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head and shoulders image of Dr. Robert W. Livingston Dr. Robert W. Livingston of Harvard University will speak on diversity in the Woods Hole science community June 8 at MBL's Lillie Auditorium.

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May 30, 2017
Contact: Shelley Dawicki

Harvard Professor to Give Public Presentation on Diversity June 8 in Woods Hole

Panel Discussion to Follow with the Woods Hole Scientific Institutions

Defining diversity, why it matters in organizations, and how you get there is the topic of a public presentation on June 8 by Dr. Robert W. Livingston of Harvard University. The presentation will take place at MBL’s Speck Auditorium at 1:00 p.m. and will be followed by a panel discussion at 2:00 p.m. on diversity in the Woods Hole science community.

Panelists will include division chiefs, deans and department heads from the six scientific institutions represented by the Woods Hole Diversity Initiative, which is sponsoring the event. Dr. Livingston and panelists will discuss diversity in Woods Hole and consider ways the community can become more diverse, with time for questions from the audience.

Livingston is a full-time faculty member at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Prior to joining Harvard, he was an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Associate Professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and Full Professor and Head of Organizational Behavior at the University of Sussex in England, where he was also Director of the Centre for Leadership, Ethics, and Diversity.

During his presentation Livingston will give an overview of empirical research on diversity and inclusion in organizational settings, and discuss definitions of diversity and the various strategies that organizations can adopt when pursuing diversity. He will also examine the benefits of diversity as well as the challenges that diverse environments can create, including conflict, social inequality, and various forms of intergroup bias. Finally, he will address the importance of answering the question, Why do we want our organization to be diverse?

Livingston’s research in general focuses on diversity, leadership, and social justice. His work has been published in academic journals such as the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and Psychological Science, and has been featured in numerous media outlets such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, BBC, Newsweek, Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Financial Times, ABC News, The Guardian, CNN and MSNBC. He has also authored several book chapters and co-edited an award-winning book on social identity and intergroup relations.

His research has been widely cited, including his work on the “Teddy Bear Effect,” a finding that Black CEOs (but not White CEOs) uniquely benefit from “disarming mechanisms” (e.g. babyfacedness) that make them appear warmer and less threatening. He is also known for his research on “intersectionality,” which explores variability in perception and treatment of individuals within the same gender (e.g. Black women – White women) or racial categories (e.g. Black men – Black women).

Livingston has served as a management and diversity consultant to a wide range of Fortune 500 companies, as well as public-sector agencies and non-profit organizations. Recently, he was identified by Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, as a member of the team assembled to combat discrimination on the online platform—designing an implicit bias training module that was rolled out to millions of users. He has also consulted with or delivered presentations to mayors of major U.S. cities and city councils, police chiefs and commissioners, university presidents and boards of regents, and members of Congress and the U.S. Senate.

In his spare time, he enjoys jazz, wine and whiskey tasting, gastronomy, philosophy, interior design, real estate investing, hiking, and nature documentaries. He has resided in five countries and is fluent in four languages.

About the Woods Hole Diversity Initiative

In 2014, the leaders of the six Woods Hole science institutions - the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries-Northeast Fisheries Science Center), the Sea Education Association (SEA), the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS), the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), and the Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) – formed a consortium and together committed to attract and retain a more diverse workforce, one that reflected the changing demographics of the nation and the international community. The leaders also signed a Memorandum of Understanding, which they reaffirmed in 2012, to create “pathways of opportunity” for members of traditionally underrepresented groups.

One of these pathways in science and education is the Woods Hole Partnership Education Program (PEP), a 10-week summer internship program aimed at college juniors and seniors from under-represented groups who have had some course work in marine and/or environmental sciences. This year’s class, the ninth since the program began in 2009, brings the total number of students who have participated in the program to 138 from 89 public and private colleges and universities in all geographic areas of the United States. The 2017 course begins June 3 and will end with public presentations of the students research on August 12.

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