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Social Work Lectures Explore New Challenges, Feb. 9
Esther Duflo's tal k will cover research by the Poverty Action Lab, a center devoted to the randomized evaluation of set-asides for women and minorities in India.

The Columbia University School of Social Work continues its successful Wednesday Lectures Series beginning this week, Feb. 9. This spring's lectures focus on emerging social issues in resource-poor countries and new challenges facing the United States and the international community. The series also will explore poverty and social development questions in South Asia and Africa.

Dean Jeanette C. Takamura initiated the series in 2002 to bring renowned scholars to the School of Social Work to explore interdisciplinary scholarship, policy and practice. Featuring presentations by visiting scholars, alumni, students, community organizations and artists, the series invites scholars to speak on a topic that could have implications for the social work profession worldwide. The 2004-2005 academic year addresses diversity and ethnic variations across four general themes: social justice and human rights; brain research; genetic research; and developing countries.

Esther Duflo, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology, will open the series with a discussion titled "Should There Be Affirmative Action for Politicians? Evidence from India." The talk will explore anti-poverty programs on political reservations (set-asides) for women and minorities in India. Using evidence from an unusual, nationwide, randomized evaluation, Duflo will demonstrate the role and impact of these set-asides as a redistribution tool.

The audience at Vence Bonham's lecture will learn about the current debates concerning using race and ethnicity as a proxy for human genetic variation.

Later this spring, speakers will tackle contemporary social concerns, including diversity in doctoral education and the complex relationship between genomics, race and ethnicity. Vence L. Bonham Jr., senior adviser to the director on Societal Implications of Genomics at the National Institutes of Health, will discuss "Understanding Race and Ethnicity in the Genome Era." Genomic research has the potential to advance our understanding of human genetic variation and its role in human health and disease. Bonham, who is also an associate investigator in the social and behavioral research branch of the Division of Intramural Research at the National Human Genome Research Institute, will talk about the challenge scientists face in their effort to understand the relationships between genomics, race and ethnicity.

The Wednesday Speakers Series is open to Columbia School of Social Work faculty, students, alumni, the University community and the general public. A ll events are free and will be held at the School of Social Work, located at 1255 Amsterdam Ave., between 121 St. and Morningside Drive. For more information, visit the series Web page or contact the Events Office at swevents@columbia.edu or at (212) 851-2203.

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Published: Feb 07, 2005
Last modified: Feb 07, 2005

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