Visiting Scholars

Sexual Citizens: Dr. Jennifer Hirsch on Sex, Power, and Assault on Campus

Dr. Jennifer Hirsch is a professor of sociomedical science at Columbia University and co-author of the forthcoming book “Sexual Citizens: A Landmark Study of Sex, Power, and Assault on Campus”.  The book is co-authored with sociologist Shamus Khan, and came from a co-directed study supported by Columbia University called the Sexual Health Initiative to Foster Transformation (SHIFT).  This study examined the myriad factors that impact sexual health and sexual violence experiences among undergraduates at Columbia University and Barnard College.  Dr. Hirsch’s other research expertise includes the anthropology of love; gender, sexuality, and migration; sexual, reproductive and HIV risk practices; social scientific research on sexual assault and undergraduate well-being; and the intersections between anthropology and public health.  She has been published in a wide array of journals, including the American Journal of Public Health, Studies in Family Planning, AIDS, and Culture, Health & Sexuality.

Dr. Hirsch is visiting WashU’s campus to discuss the ways in which college campuses have come to the forefront of nationwide conversations around sexual assault and harassment.  Her topics of interest include the stigma survivors face when they report and the consequences (or lack thereof) perpetrators face if exposed.  Dr. Hirsch will be discussing the following questions and their multilayered answers, all of which are of critical interest on this campus:

  • How can we make college campuses safer so that sexual assault isn’t such a prevalent danger?
  • How can external social pressures even before college predispose kids to commit assault?
  • How can parents start dialogues with their children to teach them what constitutes healthy sexual behavior?
  • And how can we change high school sex education in ways that make assaults less likely, and people’s sexual lives more fulfilling?

This lecture is a part of the ongoing Assembly Series, which has been programming lectures on campus since 1953.  The Assembly Series aims to “present more than one thousand of the most important voices of our time,” with events that are always free and open to the public.  Though some events provide limited seating, the series is intended as an open invitation to engage members of the WashU and greater St. Louis communities to be inspired, challenged, and entertained in conversation with one another as well as the speakers themselves.

The original iterations of the Assembly Series always occurred at 11 AM on Wednesdays in Graham Chapel; classes across the university were not scheduled during this time so that the entire campus community could assemble for dialogue.  The series has adapted over the years according to the prevailing interests of students and faculty members, and has featured First Ladies Eleanor Roosevelt and Rosalyn Carter; scientific pioneers James Watson and Francis Crick; public intellectuals Noam Chomsky and Bill Moyers; literary stars Toni Morrison and Ralph Ellison; creative ground breakers Aaron Copeland and Harold Ramis; Supreme Court justices Harry Blackmun and Antonin Scalia; and courageous activists Ralph Nader and Bella Abzug, among many others.

Dr. Jennifer Hirsch, the latest speaker in this line of influential minds, will talk about her research at 4:00 PM in the Bryan Moot Courtroom (Room 310) at the Anheuser-Busch Law School on February 10, 2020.

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