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Race and Bias Conversations

Addressing systemic racism in our country, communities, and institutions is complicated and difficult. It is something that Duke, like many other institutions of higher learning, has often struggled with. To contribute to the university's ongoing efforts to grapple with these issues, The Graduate School is launching a series of conversations on race and bias.

Throughout the academic year, we will host a series of discussions and talks aimed at helping the Graduate School community better understand the many facets of systemic racism and bias, and keeping these issues at the forefront of our consciousness as we work together to make Duke a more inclusive and supportive environment. These conversations will also highlight the important work that members of our community are doing on issues of race and bias, be it research, advocacy, support, or policy-making.

List of Scheduled Conversations

Recordings of Past Conversations


Help Us Plan Future Conversations

Events will be added to the list below as they are confirmed. We welcome suggestions from members of the Duke Graduate School community for future conversation topics in this series. We also welcome volunteers who may want to share their relevant work or lead a discussion at a future session. Please send us your ideas, and we will follow up if we decide to pursue a suggestion.

Submit A Suggestion

2020-2021 Series

Click on each event to learn more and register. You can also view recordings of past events.

Race and Bias Conversations

  • Tuesday, October 13, 2020
    6:00 pm to 7:00 pm

    Race and Bias Conversations: Desegregating Private Higher Education in the South

    A Discussion of Melissa Kean’s Book on Desegregation at Duke, Emory, Rice, Tulane and Vanderbilt  

    After World War II, elite private universities in the American South faced growing calls for desegregation. In this discussion, Dr. Paula D. McClain explores Duke’s history of fighting desegregation, how Duke’s approach differed from its Southern peers, and what those efforts tell us about where Duke is today.  Participants should read the book, if possible, so that the discussion can be interactive, and not a lecture.

  • Thursday, November 5, 2020
    5:30 pm to 6:30 pm

    Race and Bias Conversations: Researching the Police

    How Heavily Policed Communities Judge Police, and the Political Effects of Police Violence

    Policing and its sometimes deadly effects on individuals and communities of color have frequently been at the heart of debates and protests about racism in the United States and around the world. In this discussion, Ph.D. students Ajenai Clemmons and Arvind Krishnamurthy will share their research and offer a deeper exploration of the relationship between the police and the policed.

  • Monday, February 15, 2021
    5:00 pm to 6:30 pm

    Race and Bias Conversations: Discussing Structural Inequality and Systemic Racism Closer to Home

    Join graduate student group Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) as they engage Dr. Jay A. Pearson, Assistant Professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy, Assistant Research Professor of Global Health, and Associate of the Duke Initiative for Science and Society, and Abdullah Antepli, Associate Professor of the Practice of Interfaith Relations and Associate Professor of the Practice of Sanford School of Public Policy, in a discussion about structural inequality and systemic racism, and bringing the conversation closer to home by finding creative ways to look into the policies and principles at Duke.

  • Tuesday, March 9, 2021
    3:00 pm to 4:00 pm

    Senior Leaders in Higher Education Address Racism and Bias: A Conversation with Distinguished Duke Alumni

    The death of George Floyd and the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated widening racial disparities in higher education, challenging senior leaders to respond in innovative ways to address these issues on their campuses. In this conversation, distinguished Duke Graduate School alumni Drs. Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman, Senior Advisor to the President and Provost for Diversity and Inclusion at the University of South Florida, and George Wright, Presidential Senior Advisor and Interim Vice President for Institutional Diversity at the University of Kentucky, will discuss their institutions’ efforts in addressing racism, bias, and inclusion. Participants can join in an interactive Q&A during the final 15 minutes.