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McCourt School professor joins Georgetown’s Racial Justice Institute

As a founding co-director, Dr. Evelyn Patterson will help lead the Institute’s interdisciplinary work at the intersection of race, equity and action.

Evelyn Patterson

Georgetown has appointed McCourt School Professor Evelyn Patterson as the fourth faculty director and leading public policy expert of its Racial Justice Institute (RJI), a multidisciplinary research hub focused on race, equity and action. 

Patterson, who has a joint Ph.D. in demography and criminology from the University of Pennsylvania, will continue her research on the intergenerational transfer of racial and social inequalities in the U.S. and how they impact the function of social systems, organizations and institutions. She will begin teaching in the McCourt School of Public Policy in spring 2024.

“I am delighted to be joining such a vibrant community of scholars addressing some of the most pressing issues of our time,” she said. “I also look forward to the exciting work that lies ahead in my role as co-director of Georgetown’s Racial Justice Institute.”

Patterson will contribute to the interdisciplinary work already underway at the Racial Justice Institute, a research hub and incubator focused on empowering the next generation of scholars and leaders addressing the vestiges of enslavement and well-being of Black, Indigenous and people of color. 

Georgetown University established the RJI in 2021 to push the frontiers of knowledge about race, equity and action, helping to fulfill one of several major commitments made by Georgetown President John J. DeGioia to inform the university’s work to address racial injustice.

A five-year, .5 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation also assisted in the hiring of faculty experts in African American studies and related fields, supported postdoctoral and graduate fellowships for scholars from underrepresented communities, and funded a series of visiting lecturers who have explored the legacies of slavery, racism and discrimination. 

In her new role, Patterson will work alongside fellow founding co-directors Dr. Robin Lenhardt , Dr. Derek Griffith and Dr. Anita Gonzalez , whose areas of expertise are in law, health and the arts, respectively.

“Evelyn will be a fantastic addition to our team as we realize our mission of creating a world where skin color and other immutable characteristics do not limit or impede meaningful access to opportunities to thrive, live well and be healthy,” said Gonzalez, who is also a professor of performing arts and African American studies at Georgetown.

Throughout her career, Patterson engaged with several policy and government organizations, including the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, on measures related to the criminal justice system and population health. Her work has become foundational in the consideration of how states handle the resentencing of people who were sentenced to life without parole in their youth.

Learn more about Georgetown’s Racial Justice Institute here.

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