Exploring Race and Racism

Race Matters Class

Race Matters: A Multidisciplinary Exploration of Race in America

  • 3 undergraduate credits available for current Lenoir-Rhyne undergraduate students. Sign up for the class through myLR (login required) like you do for any other course.
  • Course registration for Lenoir-Rhyne faculty, staff, alumni, graduate students and the general public is now closed.
  • Course syllabus
  • Course starts the week of January 17, 2022

Spurred by reaction to The New York Times’ 1619 Project, the academic approach of Critical Race Theory has recently come under fire. Much of the fervor has centered on a misunderstanding of this approach and has led to resistance to exploring the very real influence of race and racism in society at both individual and systemic levels.

Aided by a multidisciplinary lens, students in this class will navigate these tensions to gain a fuller understanding of this complex issue at the heart of our nation. Students will study, discuss and apply course content in a collaborative community.

Course Structure

Learning materials for the week's topic and an assignment will be posted every Monday morning.

The course will be taught by 14 faculty members, each exploring race through a different disciplinary lens every week. Livestreamed discussions with the guest professor of the week will take place every Thursday evening from 6-7 p.m. These discussions will also be recorded and posted online so that they are available to those unable to attend live sessions.

Weekly assignments for credit-seeking LR undergraduates will be due by Sunday evening each week. Non-credit-seeking members of the class are welcome to submit assignments, but there is no expectation to do so.

Course Faculty

Veronica McComb
Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Bryant University
Former Associate Professor of History at Lenoir-Rhyne University

Leads us through the historical context of racism in the United States.

Scott Schaefer
Associate Professor of Biology
Explores race and ancestry from a biological perspective that includes human origins and genetics.

Shameika Stokes
Assistant Professor of Human Services
Introduces an understanding of racism that is institutional, systemic, and pervasive in our society.

Michele Hewitt
Adjunct Professor of Psychology
Guides us toward understanding bias in the minds of individuals, including prejudicial beliefs, behaviors, and emotions.

Tunay Oguz
Associate Professor of Economics
Analyzes systemic racism in economic policy from historical redlining to modern tax structures that codify inequality.

Leslie McKesson
Adjunct Professor of Leadership Studies
Former Dean at Western Piedmont Community College

Discusses ways of moving toward educational equity for individuals and communities of color.

Kim Price
Associate Professor of Public Health
Parses inequity in the healthcare system, including issues of access and diversity.

Janelle Carter-Robinson
Assistant Professor of Counseling
Provides an overview of inequities in the mental health system, including stigma in treatment and the impact of race and racism on mental health.

Shahin Tasharrofi
Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice
Discusses the influence of race on the criminal justice system process and outcomes.

Ryan Luhrs
Associate Professor of Music
Director of Choral Activities

Reflects on issues of representation and appropriation in the arts and will explore the role of music in protest.

Rev. Kermit Moss
Professor of Theology
Unpacks diversity across religious traditions as well as the intersection of theology with diversity, equity, and inclusion concerns.

Laura Hope-Gill
Assistant Professor of Writing
Director of the Thomas Wolfe Center for Narrative

Teaches us about storytelling as a tool to engage with the complexity of race and racism.

Course Facilitators

Summer Carrol
Associate Professor of Education

Taylor Newton
Associate Professor of Psychology


A generous grant from the Community Relations Council of the City of Hickory provides support for the meals shared as a part of this class. Additional funding is provided through a grant from the Lenoir-Rhyne University Center for Teaching and Learning and the support of the Office of Academic Affairs.