The Psychology Department’s Black Scholar Series: Lisa Bowleg

Date / Time

February 16, 2023

All Day


UIC Psychology Presents: The Black Scholar Series 2022-2023

Lisa Bowleg | Thursday, Feb. 16

Speaker Bio: Lisa Bowleg, PhD, MA, a leading scholar of the application of intersectionality to social and behavioral science health research, is professor of applied social psychology in the department of psychological and brain sciences at George Washington University and a co-director of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Core of the DC Center for AIDS Research. She is also the founder and president of the Intersectionality Training Institute. Informed by intersectionality and critical race theory, her mixed methods research projects examine the effects of social-structural stressors (e.g., unemployment, incarceration, police brutality), intersectional stigma, and protective factors on the health of Black men at diverse intersections of socioeconomic status and sexuality. She has served as a principal investigator or joint PI of seven National Institutes of Health-funded projects and the WK Kellogg Foundation-funded, Intersectionality Toolkit Project. She is an associate editor at the American Journal of Public Health and the editor of AJPH’s Perspectives from the Social Sciences section. In May 2021, GW awarded her its Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Prize for Scholarship (Research). In February 2022, Health, Education and Behavior, the journal of the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE),awarded her the 2021 Lawrence W. Green Paper of the Year Award in honor of her article, “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House”: Ten Critical Lessons for Black and Other Health Equity Researchers of Color.”


Main Lecture (Registration)
9-10:30 a.m. | Lessons from HIV Prevention Research with Diverse Black Men in the U.S. (Or How my Predoctoral Work in Women’s Studies and HIV Policy Taught Me Almost Everything I Needed to Know about Becoming a Critical Psychologist)

Abstract: Demographic and societal issues affecting the Black/African community psyche include among other Intersectionality. Critical theoretical frameworks. Social-structural context. Qualitative and mixed methods research. These critical frameworks, focal areas, and methodological approaches feature prominently in my HIV prevention research with U.S. Black men at diverse intersections of sexuality (i.e., gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, heterosexual). Yet, I learned nothing about intersectionality, critical theoretical frameworks, social-structural approaches, or qualitative or mixed methods research during my doctoral studies in Applied Social Psychology. Instead, my undergraduate and graduate work in Women’s Studies and my pre-doctoral work as an HIV policy analyst deserve most of the credit for the critical theoretical and methodological approaches that characterize my work. These unconventional (at least for mainstream psychology) approaches to research have shaped virtually every aspect of my National Institutes of Health-funded HIV prevention research program. Using lessons from my HIV prevention research with diverse groups of Black men at different intersectional positions (e.g., class, sexuality) as a foundation, my presentation will address:

  • Critical psychology and why I identify as a critical psychologist;
  • Why critical frameworks (e.g., intersectionality, critical race theory, structural racism) are essential for social justice and health equity work;
  • Why qualitative approaches are so indispensable to research with people from underrepresented or historically marginalized and oppressed groups;
  • The necessity of interdisciplinary perspectives and participatory action research approaches; and
  • Why it’s so critical that research with people from historically oppressed groups, should always investigate what I call the “good stuff”: protective factors, people’s strengths and assets, joy, and the resources people draw on to get them through oppression and tough times.


Special Session (Registration)
Noon-1 p.m. | If You Had Told Me Just Two Years Ago that I Would Become an Entrepreneur, I Would Have Called You Crazy

Abstract: After years of fielding requests to speak about intersectionality, write articles about intersectionality, or collaborate on intersectionality-related grant proposals, in July 2021, I formed a company named after my beloved grandmother (MRGD Consulting LLC), and launched the Intersectionality Training Institute. The Intersectionality Training Institute is an institute dedicated to training students, researchers, and practitioners how to apply intersectionality to health equity research, policy, and practice with fidelity to core tenets of intersectionality. This session will focus on the path that led to my becoming an entrepreneur after 24 relatively contented years as a professor. In the last two years, my professional life has morphed from the academy to the world of entrepreneurship in exciting ways that I could not have fathomed just a couple of years ago. In sharing this experience, I will talk about some of the important life lessons I’ve learned from this journey about:

  • How obstacles in our way can become the way;
  • The importance of trusting your gut;
  • Not being afraid to fail;
  • Being fearful and doing it anyway;
  • Envisioning a world far beyond the one that you currently inhabit;
  • The miracles of developing a ride or die team;
  • The joys of being outside of your comfort zone; and
  • Embracing the unconventional path


Affinity Session (Registration)
1:15-2:15 p.m.

Abstract: The Affinity Session provides the opportunity for Black students, staff, and faculty to come together in community with each other and the visiting scholar to collectively reflect on their realities of being Black and in the field of psychology.

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