Race and Regulation Lecture Series

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A major lecture series on race and regulation will be held at the University of Pennsylvania throughout the 2021-22 academic year. Sponsored by the Penn Program on Regulation (PPR), the lecture series seeks to enhance and foster inquiry into how government regulation has contributed to racial inequities as well as how changes to regulatory policies could be used to dismantle racist structures in society.

The effects of government regulations do not fall equally across all segments of society. As a historic matter, a host of government policies in the United States—including housing policies and other forms of regulation—have benefitted white Americans to the detriment of people of color. Efforts to promote racial justice can benefit from a greater understanding of the role that regulatory systems have played, and still may be playing, in institutionalizing inequities in society.

This lecture series also seeks to contribute to the University of Pennsylvania Law School’s overarching commitment to research, teaching, and outreach on racial justice.

“By peeling back the curtain on the power of regulation to sustain or, with reform, to dismantle oppressive systems, the Penn Program on Regulation’s new lecture series can have a tremendous impact on educating and empowering our students to be agents of change,” says Arlene Rivera Finkelstein, Associate Dean for Equity and Justice, and the Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer at Penn’s Law School. The Penn Law Office of Equity and Inclusion has supported the development of the series, which will be part of the Law School’s Achieving Racial Justice events this year.

This new lecture series builds on efforts over the past year by the Penn Law students who produce PPR’s online publication, The Regulatory Review, which last year established an annual online symposium on race, regulation, and the administrative state.

PPR Director Cary Coglianese notes that “improving regulatory systems and the behavior of regulatory personnel remains an essential avenue for delivering on the promise of equal justice for Black persons, as well as for Indigenous and other minority communities facing oppression and discrimination.”

Each lecture in the series this fall will be held via Zoom on Tuesdays from 5:00-6:00 pm ET. The schedule for the Fall 2021 Term is listed below. To register and receive the dedicated Zoom link for each individual lecture, please click on the lecture titles.

The lecture series is free and open to the public. We welcome anyone with an interest in learning more about race and regulation, including students from across Penn or at other colleges and universities. Please feel free to share word of this series with others who may be interested.

Update (Jan. 23, 2022): View the announcement of the Spring 2022 schedule for the lecture series.

September 28: New Evidence on Racial Disparities in Financial Regulatory Leadership

Chris BrummerAgnes N. Williams Research Professor, Georgetown University Law Center

Professor Brummer, whose expertise includes financial inclusion and equity, financial regulation, and global governance, served previously on the National Adjudicatory Council of FINRA, a regulator of the securities industry. He also was a member of the Biden-Harris Transition team, advising on financial technology, racial equity, and systemic risk issues. His publications include What Do the Data Reveal About (the Absence of Black) Financial Regulators?

October 26: Redlined Forever: The Racist Past of Today’s Land Use Regulations

Jessica Trounstine, Foundation Board of Trustees Presidential Chair and Professor of Political Science, University of California, Merced

Professor Trounstine studies American politics and political representation, with a focus on how political institutions generate racial and socioeconomic inequalities. She is the author of the award-winning book, Segregation by Design: Local Politics and Inequality in American Cities.

November 2: Race, Political Power, and American Democracy: Rethinking Voting Rights Law and Policy for a Divided Nation

Guy-Uriel Charles, Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

Professor Charles studies election law, race and law, and constitutional law, and directs the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard. He is co-editor of Race, Reform, and Regulation of the Electoral Process: Recurring Puzzles in American Democracy, and is at work on a new book, on which this lecture is based. This lecture is part of Public Interest Week 2021. It is also the Penn Program on Regulation’s 2021 Distinguished Regulation Lecture.

November 16: Black Families Matter: How the U.S. Family Regulation System Punishes Poor People of Color

Dorothy RobertsGeorge A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology and the Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights, University of Pennsylvania

Professor Roberts is a Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor and the founding director of the Program on Race, Science & Society at the University of Pennsylvania. The author of Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare, her latest book, Torn Apart: How the Child Welfare System Destroys Black Families—And How Abolition Can Build a Safer World, will be released in 2022.

December 7: How Race and Social Inequalities Influence Healthy People’s Paid Participation in FDA-Required Clinical Trials

Jill A. Fisher, Professor of Social Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Professor Fisher’s work explores how social inequalities are produced or exploited by commercialized medicine in the United States, especially in the conduct of clinical trials. Her talk will build on insights from her award-winning book, Adverse Events: Race, Inequality, and the Testing of New Pharmaceuticals.


The Penn Program on Regulation would like to thank the Penn Law Office of Equity and Inclusion for its co-sponsorship of this series, as well as the following other programs at the University of Pennsylvania that are co-sponsoring individual lectures: The Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice & Research; Leonard Davis Institute of Health EconomicsPenn Institute for Urban Research; Penn Medicine Center for Health Equity Advancement; and Wharton Initiative on Financial Policy and RegulationThe series also is part of Penn Law’s Achieving Racial Justice colloquium.

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