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Experts: Immigration, Race, Religion and Political Movements

Carol Swain: Immigration, voting rights law, African American representation in politics

Professor of Political Science; Professor of Law

Swain is an authority on immigration, voting rights law and African American representation in politics. Swain is the editor and contributor to a published book of essays titled Debating Immigration. In the book, Swain talks about the impact of immigration on African Americans. She is also the author of the highly acclaimed book Black Faces, Black Interests: The Representation of African Americans in Congress, which won the 1994 Woodrow Wilson prize for the best book on government published in the United States, and The New White Nationalism in America: Its Challenge to Integration. Her most recent book is Be The People: A Call to Reclaim America’s Faith and Promise. Swain discusses her belief that America’s departure from the founding fathers’ Judeo-Christian roots has come at a cost politically, socially and morally. Swain also serves on the National Council on the Humanities. Swain has extensive print, TV and radio experience.

Contact: 615-322-6222 · 24/7 News & Communications: 615-322-2706 · Email · Website



Efrén O. Pérez: Race, ethnicity and politics, public opinion, immigration

Pérez studies the public opposition to immigration and other aspects of political psychology involving race and ethnicity. He is a former media relations expert for political consulting firms and now an assistant professor of political science. His upcoming book is titled In the Blink of an Eye: How Race Colors the Politics of Immigration.

Contact: 615-322-6222 · 24/7 News & Communications: 615-322-2706 · Email · Website


Gary Gerstle: Immigration, Occupy Wall Street, race and diversity, multiculturalism

James G. Stahlman Professor of American History.

Gerstle is a 20th century American historian with interests in immigration, ethnicity, nationality and the American experience. He follows the history of liberalism and conservatism and can speak about the Occupy Wall Street movement. He has written or edited books including a study of past and current immigration to the United States, E Pluribus Unum?, the textbook Liberty, Equality, Power: A History of the American People (now in its 6th edition), The Rise and Fall of the New Deal Order, 1930-1980 and American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century.

Contact: (615) 322-1001 · 24/7 News and Communications: (615) 322-2706 · Email · Website


Stella Flores
Stella Flores: Immigrant students, college access for immigrant students, Latino students, in-state tuition, Texas higher education

Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Higher Education; Assistant Professor of Sociology

Flores can discuss the impact admissions and financial aid policies have on immigrant students, demographic changes in higher education, Latino students and community colleges, and how current immigrant migration patterns are affecting the education system. An expert on in-state tuition and specifically Texas higher education, Flores has done numerous interviews on her latest research which finds ideology and partisanship do not play a significant role in whether a state considers extending in-state college tuition to undocumented immigrants. She is the author of numerous papers on Latino educational opportunity and racial shifts in higher education. Her work was cited in the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court Gratz v. Bollinger decision (dissenting opinion) on affirmative action in higher education admissions.

Contact: 24/7 News & Communications: 615-322-2706 · Email · Website


Katharine M. Donato: Immigration, population and society, immigration and public health

Professor of Sociology

Donato studies the various effects of immigration in contemporary American society. Her projects have included the school involvement of immigrant parents, adolescent health and immigration and undocumented migration. She is also an expert on contemporary Mexican society.

Contact: 24/7 News & Communications: 615-322-2706 · Email · Website


Dan Cornfield: Immigration, communities and public policy, artistic careers, labor movements, Civil Rights Movement, economy and society

Professor of Sociology

Cornfield’s current areas of research are immigration, artistic careers and the Civil Rights Movement. He studies how “new destination cities” in the interior states deal with integrating documented and undocumented immigrants into their communities. He led a city-funded assessment of the social well-being of various immigrant groups in Nashville during which researchers surveyed immigrants and service providers in Atlanta, Memphis and Charlotte, N.C. Cornfield, who serves as editor of the journal Work and Occupations, is also researching freelance artistic careers in the new creative economy and how and why music professionals combine occupational roles, trade unionism and entrepreneurialism as they pursue their careers. In addition, he is looking at the development and long-term impact of the non-violent 1960s-era Nashville Civil Rights Movement on race relations and social activism. Cornfield has affiliate appointments in the College of Arts and Science’s Department of Political Science, Program in American and Southern Studies, and the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions. He is a Faculty Fellow at Vanderbilt’s Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy.

Contact: 615-322-7535, 24/7 News & Communications: 615-322-2706 · Email · Website


Kathleen Flake: Modern American religion, separation of church and state, religious history

Associate professor of American religious history and attorney

As a divinity professor and attorney, Flake has a unique perspective on the issues surrounding the separation of church and state. She teaches courses on American religious history and the interaction between American religion and law. She is the author of The Politics of Religious Identity: the Seating of Senator Reed Smoot, Mormon Apostle. Flake has been interviewed by several national news networks about Mormonism in conjunction with Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman running for president. She also can discuss controversial church-state issues such as disputes over the posting of Ten Commandments monuments in public places. Prior to her appointment at Vanderbilt, she was a litigation attorney in Washington, D.C.

Contact: 615-343-3978, 24/7 News & Communications: 615-322-2706 · Email · Website


Amy-Jill Levine: Jesus, Judaism, gender issues, Jewish-Christian relations, New Testament

E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies
Levine, who has done numerous national media interviews, examines the literary, historical and cultural implications of Scripture to explain how, when and why various interpretations arise, With a frequent dash of humor, she exposes anti-Jewish, sexist, homophobic theologies and other forms of prejudice that directly impact people’s lives. Her many books and articles address such topics as Christian origins, formative Judaism and the “Historical Jesus.” She wrote the highly acclaimed The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus. She co-authored The Meaning of the Bible: What the Jewish Scriptures and the Christian Old Testament Can Teach Us. She is the editor of A Feminist Companion to the New Testament and Early Christian Literature, a 14-volume series, and co-editor of The Jewish Annotated New Testament and The Historical Jesus in Context. Levine faculty appointments include professor of Jewish Studies and an affiliated professor at the Woolf Institute’s Centre for the Study of Jewish-Christian Relations (Cambridge, UK).

Contact: 615-343-3967, 24/7 News & Communications: 615-322-2706 · Email · Website



Tracy Denean Sharpley-Whiting: Racial issues, hip-hop culture, feminism

Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Distinguished Professor of French and African American and Diaspora Studies

Sharpley-Whiting teaches and writes about such topics as cultural politics, black popular culture, feminist studies, critical theory and race, Black Europe and Jazz Age Paris. She has written, edited or co-edited 12 books, including Pimps Up, Ho’s Down: Hip Hop’s Hold on Young Black Women. She has been interviewed by numerous news outlets on a variety of race-related issues and testified before Congress on the subject of degrading images of women in the media and popular culture in the wake of the Don Imus controversy. She also wrote a series of articles for the online ‘zine’ NewsOne during the 2008 Democratic primary. The former print and runway model served as an editor on The Black Feminist Reader and The Speech: Race and Barack Obama’s ‘A More Perfect Union.’ Sharpley-Whiting is currently working on Bricktop’s Paris, a study of black women in Paris during the Jazz Age. She was the 2006 winner of the Horace Mann Medal for Distinguished Graduate School Alumni from Brown University. Sharpley-Whiting directs the Program in African American and Diaspora Studies and the W.T. Bandy Center for Baudelaire and Modern French Studies. She is in France for the fall semester 2011.

Contact: 615-322-4007, 24/7 News & Communications: 615-322-2706 · Email · Website


Steven Tepper

Steven Tepper: The Tea Party

Associate Director of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy, Associate Professor of Sociology

Tepper has studied the Tea Party movement and come to the conclusion that it will not change American politics in any drastic way. Surveys indicate that Tea Party members combine some sometimes contradictory traits, such as being both authoritarian and libertarian. They are also significantly afraid of change and anti-immigrant, according to Tepper’s survey.

He published Not Here, Not Now, Not That!: Protesting Art and Media in America in 2011 and co-edited (with Bill Ivey) Engaging Art: The Next Great Transformation of America’s Cultural Life.

Contact: 24/7 News & Communications: 615-322-2706 · Email · Website