For Immediate Release—Thursday, March 22, 2007


Mary E. McCrank

Media Relations Officer

(585) 245-5516

Pre-eminent sociologist Troy Duster to deliver SUNY Geneseo President's Lecture on Diversity April 3

GENESEO, N.Y.—Troy Duster, one of the nation's pre-eminent sociologists with an interest in science policy and race, will deliver the fourth annual President's Lecture on Diversity at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 3, in the MacVittie College Union Ballroom at the State University of New York at Geneseo. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Duster serves as Chancellor's Professor of Sociology at University of California at Berkeley, as well as professor of sociology and director of the Institute for the History of the Production of Knowledge at New York University.

The title of his talk is "The Emergence vs. Reductionism in Scientific Thought, Funding and Reward Structures—Contrasting Explanations for Alcoholism, Diabetes, and Violence."

With his research interests in the areas of sociology of science, public policy, race and ethnicity and deviance, Duster has been in the forefront of connecting advances in molecular biology, such as DNA markers, to implications for the social significance of race. His lecture at Geneseo will be an exemplar for students in the use of solid evidence to support insightful and groundbreaking conclusions.

Duster has expressed concern that the nation is rushing into the emerging science of human genomics and applied technologies of human genetic screening, gene therapy and genetic enhancement. He has cautioned against a return of the biological determinism he fears might resurrect old race mythologies.

Duster, who served as president of the American Sociological Association from 2004-05, is the author of several books, including "Backdoor to Eugenics" and "The Legislation of Morality," as well as numerous articles on theory and methods.

He is the former director of the American Cultures Center and founding director of the Institute for the Study of Social Change, both housed at the University of California at Berkeley. He has been a visiting professor or visiting scholar at Stockholm University, the University of British Columbia, the London School of Economics, Williams College, the University of Melbourne and Columbia University.

His awards and fellowships include the Hatfield Scholars Award in 2002; the American Sociological Association's DuBois-Johnson-Frazier Award in 2001; serving as social scientist to the National Advisory Commission for The Decade of Behavior from 2000-01; and serving as a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Ethical; Social Issues Panel, Genetic Therapy Germline Intervention.

Duster's grandmother, Ida B. Wells, was born a slave in Mississippi in 1862 and went on to become a prominent writer and speaker who illustrated the challenges facing African-Americans and exposed cases of lynchings in the south.

Duster was born five years after Wells died. Raised in poverty by Wells' daughter, Alfreda Duster, he and his three older siblings were raised in the heart of the ghetto on the south side of Chicago. After graduating first in his class, Duster went to Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., on an academic scholarship. He was one of three African-Americans in his class. After earning his bachelor's degree in journalism, he briefly worked as a reporter and then went on to earn his master's degree in sociology from the University of California at Los Angeles and his doctorate in sociology from Northwestern University.

Raised not to put on airs, Duster only recently acknowledged Wells as his grandmother. He and his siblings have established the Ida B. Wells Foundation to give awards to journalists and researchers working in Wells' tradition of writing and speaking out for civil rights, civil liberties and social justice.