Ever finished the last page of a thought-provoking book and immediately thought, “I wish I could pick the author’s brain?” The Center for Africana Studies has made that possible. In partnership with Alumni Education, and co-sponsored by the Black Alumni Society and Penn Spectrum programs, the Center launched the Penn Alumni Reading Club in 2017.
“We wanted to figure out a way to connect with alumni, and, in particular, to correct the notion that our only audience is Black people—a common misconception,” says Camille Zubrinsky Charles, the Walter H. and Leonore C. Annenberg Professor in the Social Sciences, a professor of sociology, Africana studies, and education, and the director of the Center for Africana Studies. “It started out that we wanted to host faculty discussing their books, which is great in its own right, but then we realized that there were opportunities for our faculty to explore other books in their areas of expertise.”
Reading club presentations are held twice a semester and feature either a Penn faculty member or alum. The presenters select a book or article they’ve written, taught, or feel passionate about, and lead a discussion of the work. The talks are held on campus and online simultaneously, offering alumni across the globe the opportunity to pose questions, think critically, and engage intellectually with fellow Quakers.
The first talk was given by Dorothy Roberts, the George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology and the Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights, a professor of Africana studies, and the director of the Program on Race, Science, and Society. Roberts, an acclaimed scholar of race and gender, presented on her book, Fatal Invention: “How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-Create Race in the Twenty-First Century.”
“I enjoyed discussing my book with members of the alumni reading group,” says Roberts. “It was a treat to share my ideas with an engaged and astute group who had read my book and were prepared to ask great questions. There was also a chance to take questions from participants who lived too far away to participate in person.”
Read more at Omnia magazine.