Penn appoints new 'Penn Integrates Knowledge' professor
As part of a push for interdisciplinary studies, Penn hired Dorothy Roberts to teach in the College and Law School
April 17, 2012, 10:07 pm · Updated April 18, 2012, 11:42 pm·
Penn’s mission for interdisciplinary scholarship will continue to advance as the University welcomes a new scholar to its faculty.
Dorothy Roberts has been appointed as the newest Penn Integrates Knowledge professor and will join Penn this fall as a joint faculty member of the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Law.
The PIK professor program — which recruits faculty whose work spans across multiple disciplines — was originally conceived by Penn President Amy Gutmann. Communication and anthropology professor John Jackson became the first PIK professor in 2006.
The ideal PIK candidate is “a professor of great distinction whose teaching and research crosses disciplinary boundaries, and whose work has an impact on the world at large,” SAS Dean Rebecca Bushnell wrote in an email.
Roberts has been a professor of law and social policy, among other things, at Northwestern University for the past 14 years. She said she is “absolutely thrilled to be joining the Penn community.”
“I feel that the PIK appointment was designed just for me and my work and fits me perfectly,” Roberts said. “I really look forward to a new, even more productive stage in my career.”
Roberts’ research has focused on the interplay of race, gender and class in legal issues, primarily involving motherhood, family and child welfare bioethics. She believes that she was appointed to the position because of the interdisciplinary nature of her work, as well as her engagement with scholars across many fields.
“I have tried to be a scholar-teacher who takes advantage of and engages in a number of bodies of knowledge, and I think it makes my scholarship and teaching better because of that broader perspective,” Roberts said.
Roberts has a number of plans, projects and objectives for when she arrives at Penn.
“I want to use my professorship to participate with students and faculty around the University, bridging disciplines to be able to better bring together people who share common interests but are in different parts of the University,” Roberts said.
Roberts plans on spearheading initiatives such as a program on race law and social policy as well as various collaborative research projects. She intends to continue encouraging the Penn community to get involved with public interest organizations.
According to College of Arts and Sciences Dean Dennis DeTurck, Roberts is the first PIK appointment of her kind between SAS and the Law School, among the 13 PIK professors currently at Penn.
Gutmann believes the link between the schools will play to Penn’s strengths in interdisciplinary learning. She added that Roberts “will join a set of colleagues at Penn who avidly welcome her and will collaborate with her moving forward.”
“She is going to be a great appointment and we are excited to have her here,” DeTurck added. “We know she has a strong interest in engaging with students and can particularly bring beneficial insight on the legal and law school processes to pre-law students. This appointment is only going to be a good thing.”