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Dr. Dexter R. Voisin

Dean and Professor, University of Toronto's Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work

Carl A. Scott Memorial Lecture—Monday, November 16

America the Beautiful and Violent: The Role of Social Work in Addressing Anti-Black Racism

America is one of the wealthiest and most powerful countries in the world. Its cultural artifacts penetrate and inhabit the imaginations and lives of people worldwide in the form of Hollywood films, pop music, social media, and sports. Many of these contributions have been made by African Americans. But racism is America’s birth defect, and America has continued to struggle and falter with her sparring realities and separate and unequal existences based on race. A racial caste system has been modernized but never really dismantled, with millions of African American families growing up in the shadow of the stars and stripes. The social work profession has also struggled with its dueling legacies of social control and social change. This lecture will highlight what it means for social work to more fully adopt an anti-Black racism framework, especially within the context of COVID-19 health disparities and the growing global conversations concerning racial reckoning.

About Dexter R. Voisin, PhD

Professor Voisin is the Dean of the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, and the Sandra Rotman Chair in Social Work. Prior to his appointment at U of T, he was Professor at the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago for two decades. During this time, he was a Faculty affiliate at both the Center for the Study of Race, Culture, and Politics and the Center for Health and the Social Sciences. He was also the Director of the STI/HIV Intervention Network (SHINE) and Co-Director of the Chicago Center for HIV Elimination (CCHE). 

Voisin’s scholarship examines the impact of structural, neighborhood and police violence on the life chances and behavioral trajectories of urban youth and the protective factors that protect youth in the presence of such adversities. His research demonstrates that exposure to structural and neighborhood violence is correlated with youth mental health problems, school failure, negative peer networks, and high rates of HIV-related risk behaviors. His latest project is a book entitled America the Beautiful and Violent: Black Youth and Neighborhood Trauma in Chicago, which was published by Columbia University Press in August 2019. 

Recognized as one of the most influential and cited Black scholars in top tier schools of social work in North America, Voisin has published more than 145-peer reviewed publications and secured more than 10 million dollars in research funding. 

Voisin has more than 28 years of post-M.S.W. clinical experience in the areas of substance abuse, adult psychopathology, and adolescent and family therapy. He earned his B.A. (psychology, cum laude) from St. Andrews College, M.S.W. (practice) from the University of Michigan, and Ph.D. (advanced practice) from Columbia University School of Social Work.