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Honorary Doctorate from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

June 17, 2024

Dorothy Roberts at the graduation ceremony of RCSI 2024
Dorothy Roberts at RCSI

Prof. Dorothy E. Roberts has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate from RCSI for her work illuminating how racism underpins healthcare inequities.

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, has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI).

“I am extremely honored to receive an honorary doctorate in science from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in recognition of my scholarship contesting racism in science and medicine,” said Roberts.

Roberts accepted the award at RCSI’s 2024 graduation ceremony, where she also delivered the commencement address to the class of 342 students. She was introduced by Professor Hannah McGee, RCSI Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, who called Roberts “an internationally acclaimed scholar and a leader in transforming thinking on reproductive justice, child welfare, and bioethics.”

Last year, as part of RCSI’s focus on race equality and understanding how racism underpins healthcare inequities, a group of students volunteered to participate in a reading project focused on anti-racism literature related to medical practice, including Roberts’s book Fatal Invention (New Press, 2012). This pathbreaking work examines how the myth of the biological concept of race continues to undermine a just society and reproduce inequality, with emerging trends in medicine and technology threatening to resolidify ideas of eugenics and scientific racism.

Following completion of the project, according to RCSI, the participants reported feeling more informed about the history of racism in modern society and medicine, and better able to discuss and challenge racism in their daily lives. The school’s anti-racism reading initiative that is now embedded in the medical education program.

“I am especially grateful that my book Fatal Invention helped to inspire and guide RCSI’s innovative racial equality initiatives,” said Roberts. “It’s thrilling to know that I have had a positive impact on medical education across the Atlantic!”

Since its establishment in 1784 as the national training body for surgery in Ireland, RCSI has been at the forefront of healthcare education in the United Kingdom as an innovative, international health sciences university and research institution. Since 2011, RCSI has recognized excellence and inspiration through its Honorary Doctorate Award, celebrating “exceptional people who have made a difference to the world through education, research, or service.”

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