Two examples of texts the students with engage with in the course.
Left: The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together, by Heather McGhee
Right: The Racial Contract, by Charles W. Mills
Two examples of texts the students with engage with in the course.
Left: The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together, by Heather McGhee
Right: The Racial Contract, by Charles W. Mills

Let’s Talk About Race

Fall 2022
Tuesday Lecture/Thursday
Thursday discussion will take place over dinner at Zweli’s Cafe on campus each week.

Recent events have led to increasing awareness of and reckoning with race and racism in the United States and globally. To maintain this momentum and facilitate lasting change at individual, interpersonal, and institutional levels, it is important to enhance our collective understanding about past and current realities regarding race and racism, uproot dominant narratives that normalize injustice and sustain oppression, and advance narratives that promote equity and collective liberation. This course provides students with a long view of race and racism, from the origins of ideas about racial hierarchies and classifications to their historical and contemporary manifestations within and across societies. Through large and small group interactions, students will engage with faculty, graduate students, and other undergraduates to gain new knowledge, have candid conversations, build relationships, and collectively envision and devise strategies for a better future.

UNIV 101: Let’s Talk About Race will provide foundational knowledge about and explore the origins and meanings of the concept of race. Truly university-reaching, UNIV101 will feature scholars from across Duke and is open to any undergraduate student from any discipline (no pre-reqs required).

This course will examine the evolution, pervasiveness, and consequences of racial classifications, hierarchies, and bias in the U.S. and around the world.  Each Tuesday, the course will feature a different guest lecturer who will discuss race within their area of expertise, spanning a broad range of academic and professional disciplines including the natural and social sciences, humanities, arts, law, religion, medicine, and more. Each Thursday, the course will convene discussions based on the Tuesday lecture. 

In the News

In 2020, as the Black Lives Matter protests gathered strength in the wake of the police murder of George Floyd, Duke President Vince Price released a statement committing the university to “take transformative action now toward eliminating … systems of racism and inequality.” He listed expected steps: diversity in hiring and admissions, additional aid, salary equity, Juneteenth as a Duke paid holiday. More, he pledged to “incorporate anti-racism into our curricula … across the university.”

One of the first places that led was to UNIV 101: The Invention and Consequences of Race, a new universitywide [sic] course addressing the very concept of race, and how it was created and what it has wrought. That 14-week course was the first time Duke had addressed a topic like this in a universitywide [sic] course.

“series four: the race course” of the devil’s share, a podcast of duke magazine

…all the stars have aligned: A series of global, national, and local crises have aligned administration, faculty, staff and students to come together to make this happen with the resources and the support needed to bump us over a collective inertia. This course has the potential of putting this central issue [of race] on the Duke intellectual map front and center.

University Course Raises Race as a Central Element of Undergraduate Education,” Duke Today


The two co-conveners for UNIV101: Let’s Talk About Race are both part of the University Course on Race Committee and are responsible for implementation of the course and its topics, structure, and learning outcomes. In addition, there are 14 guest lecturers from within and outside Duke University who will lead weekly lectures on a variety of topics related to the study of race.

Charmaine Royal
Charmaine DM Royal, Ph.D., Robert O. Keohane Professor of African & African American Studies, Biology, Global Health, Family Medicine & Community Health, and Director of the Center on Genomics, Race, Identity, Difference and the Center for Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation
Jay Pearson, Ph.D., Associate Research Professor of Global Health, Faculty Research Scholar of DuPRI’s Population Research Center, Associate of the Duke Initiative for Science & Society