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Meet our Speakers


Keynote Lecturer: Joe W. Trotter

trotter headshotJoe William Trotter, Jr. is the Giant Eagle Professor of History and Social Justice and past History Department Chair at Carnegie Mellon University. He is also the Director and Founder of Carnegie Mellon’s  Center for African American Urban Studies and the Economy (CAUSE), President Elect of the Urban History Association and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His latest publications are African American Workers and the Appalachian Coal Industry (WVU Press, 2022) and  Workers on Arrival: Black Labor in the Making of America (University of California Press, 2019). 

Professor Trotter received his BA degree from Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Minnesota. He is currently working on a study of African American urban life since the Atlantic slave trade. Dr. Trotter has deep family and intellectual roots in southern West Virginia, where he grew up.

Relevant Publications:

African American Workers and the Appalachian Coal Industry (WVU: 2022)



Featured Speaker: Courtney Thomas Tobin

tobin headshot

Tobin is an Assistant Professor for the Department of Community Health Sciences and a Faculty Associate in the Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA. A central focus of Tobins's research is the conceptualization and assessment of race-based stress and coping experiences among the U.S. Black population. In one study, Tobin found that experiencing subtle or ambiguous discrimination increases Blacks’ risk of poor psychological and physiological functioning and may be more detrimental than more blatant discriminatory treatment. This work motivated the development “Racial Self-Awareness Framework of Race-Based Stress, Coping, and Health,” which clarifies environmental, sociocultural, and behavioral health processes by spotlighting “racial self-awareness” (RSA), the heightened sense of awareness of one’s racial minority status within a majority context.

Results from a recent qualitative study suggest that (1) RSA represents additional cognitive effort that is physically and emotionally taxing, (2) RSA shapes Blacks’ perceptions of and responses to general and race-based stressors, and (3) Blacks employ a range of behavioral coping strategies to reduce the strain of RSA. Tobin is currently developing new survey measures to assess the health consequences of RSA and other race-based stress and coping experiences within nationally-representative samples of Black Americans.

Areas of Interest: 

Psychosocial Stress and Coping; African Americans; racial and SES health disparities; aging and the life course; mental-physical health comorbidities; maternal and child health; psychobiology of stress; biomarkers. I'm trained as a medical sociologist and use mixed-method and transdisciplinary approaches to examine psychosocial sources of risk and resilience and their impact on the psychophysiological health of Black Americans across the life course.

Relevant Publications:

“Health Risk or Resource? The Relationship Between John Henryism and Physical and Mental Health among Black Americans.”


Featured Speaker: Qrescent Mali Mason

Mason headshotQrescent Mali Mason is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Haverford College and currently serves as the President of the International Simone de Beauvoir Society. She earned a Ph.D. in Philosophy, with a Certificate in Women’s Studies, from Temple University in 2014. From 2014-2018, she taught in the Women’s and Gender Studies department at Berea College where she solidified a commitment to the value of interdisciplinarity and intersectional theorizing through teaching and researching in Gender and Sexuality Studies and African American Studies. Her most recent writings include “The Uses of Death: Toward a Black Feminist Phenomenology in Audre Lorde’s The Cancer Journals,” and “Intersectional Ambiguity and the Phenomenology of #BlackGirlJoy,” and she is working on a book manuscript titled, Intersectional Ambiguity: Simone de Beauvoir, Women of Color Feminisms, and The Difference Difference Makes.


Relevant Publications:

“Silenced Silences: Conducting Oral History Interviews with Members of Historically Marginalized Communities”; “Teaching the Real bell hooks”



Featured Speaker: Judah Schept

Schept headshotJudah Schept, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the School of Justice Studies at Eastern Kentucky University. He holds a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from Indiana University and a BA in Sociology from Vassar College. Judah’s work examines the political economy, historical geography, and cultural politics of the prison industrial complex. He is the author of Progressive Punishment: Job Loss, Jail Growth, and the Neoliberal Politics of Carceral Expansion (New York University Press, 2015). In addition, Judah’s writing can be found in journals such as Radical Criminology, Theoretical Criminology, Punishment and Society, Social Justice, and Crime, Media, Culture, as well as in blogs and opinion pieces for academic and activist websites. Judah’s current research examines the historical, spatial and political relationships between extractive and prison economies in Central Appalachia.

Relevant Publications:

He has a new book on this topic: Coal, Cages, Crisis: The Rise of the Prison Economy in Central Appalachia (2022).