Brown Lecture: Lori Patton Davis on Educational Equity

Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed/
a nation that isn’t broken,/
but simply unfinished.

Those words, penned by National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman, for Joseph Biden’s inauguration as U.S. president, set the stage for the 18th Annual Brown Lecture in Education Research sponsored by the American Educational Research Association. Gorman’s poem, “The Hill We Climb,” inspires the central question from lecturer Lori Patton Davis of The Ohio State University: Why are we still climbing the hill of educational equity 67 years after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education?

Davis’s lecture, “Still Climbing the Hill: Intersectional Reflections on Brown and Beyond,” will take place virtually on Thursday, October 21, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. ET. This free lecture is open to the public. ASL interpretation and captioning will be provided.

Patton Davis, professor of higher education and student affairs, is known for her cross-cutting scholarship on African Americans in higher education, critical race theory, diversity initiatives on college campuses, Black girls and women in educational and social contexts, and college student development.

Lori Patton Davis
Lori Patton Davis

In her lecture, Patton Davis will challenges dominant narratives surrounding Brown and introduces perspectives that might help account for our lack of progress—perspectives that typically are overlooked or erased in wider Brown discourses. Her scholarly analysis contributes a robust understanding of Brown and its historical and contemporary meanings in the sociopolitical contexts of racism and White supremacy.

Patton Davis considers pressing questions: How can study of the circumstances that have intensified the COVID-19 pandemic fuel collective understanding of racial inequities and intersectional injustices in education? How might a critical race lens guide educators, policymakers, and researchers toward a more progressive realization of the promises of Brown? What would it take for education researchers, the majority of whom are situated in postsecondary settings, to engage in activism modeled after the work of communities still fighting for the racial and educational equity envisioned in Brown?

Patton Davis is the co-author and co-editor of several important books on college student development and the author of numerous peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and other academic publications. Her research has been cited in multiple publications and funded by grants from the Spencer Foundation, the Lumina Foundation, the American Psychological Foundation, and numerous other organizations.

Davis, who chairs the educational studies department at Ohio State, is past president of the Association for the Study of Higher Education and was elected the inaugural director of equity and inclusion on the American College Personnel Association’s (ACPA) governing board.

The Brown Lecture, now in its 18th year, was inaugurated by American Educational Research Association in 2004 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, in which the U.S. Supreme Court took scientific research into account in issuing its landmark ruling.

“Dr. Davis has greatly advanced our understanding of social justice in higher education contexts through her rigorous and substantive scholarship,” said AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine. “Her work ties in seamlessly with the purpose of the Brown Lecture as a venue for spotlighting the crucial role of research in understanding and addressing equity and equality in education.”

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American Educational Research Association

The American Educational Research Association (AERA) is the largest national professional organization devoted to the scientific study of education. Founded in 1916, AERA advances knowledge about education, encourages scholarly inquiry related to education, and promotes the use of research to improve education and serve the public good.

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