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American Philosophical Society Election

May 18, 2023

Dorothy Roberts
Dorothy Roberts

The esteemed American Philosophical Society, founded in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin, has elected Prof. Dorothy E. Roberts to join its prestigious membership.

Members of the prestigious American Philosophical Society (APS) voted to elect Dorothy E. Roberts, George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology and the Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights, as a new member. Founded in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin for the purpose of “promoting useful knowledge,” the APS is the oldest learned society in the United States.

With fewer than 30 new members elected annually, the APS honors and engages distinguished scientists, civic and cultural leaders, and preeminent scholars across a range of academic disciplines.

“I’m very honored by the American Philosophical Society’s recognition of my scholarship, which I hope provides useful knowledge for building a more just and humane world,” said Roberts. “Penn has been a wonderful academic home, and it’s especially gratifying to join my distinguished Penn Carey Law colleague Anita Allen as an APS member.”

Roberts, an acclaimed scholar of race, gender and the law, is the University of Pennsylvania’s 14th Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor with joint appointments in the Departments of Africana Studies and Sociology and the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School. She is also founding director of the Penn Program on Race, Science & Society in the Center for Africana Studies.

Her pathbreaking work in law and public policy focuses on urgent social justice issues in policing, family regulation, science, medicine, and bioethics. Her major books include Torn Apart: How the Child Welfare System Destroys Black Families — And How Abolition Can Build a Safer World​ (2022), Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century (2011); Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare (2002), and Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty (1997). She is the author of more than 100 scholarly articles and book chapters, as well as a co-editor of six books on such topics as constitutional law and women and the law.

Her work has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, National Science Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Harvard Program on Ethics & the Professions, and Stanford Center for the Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity. 

Roberts joins Anita Allen, Henry R. Silverman Professor of Law, who was elected to the APS membership in 2022. The Society’s membership currently includes 982 elected members, 824 resident members, and 158 international members from more than two dozen foreign countries. Only 5,819 members have been elected since 1743, and over 270 members have received the Nobel Prize.

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