Howard Harrod Lecture

Event Details

Vanderbilt University Divinity School announces the 2023 Harrod Lecture   


Karilyn Crockett

Assistant Professor of Urban History, Public Policy & Planning

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Monday, November 6, 2023

7:00 p.m. CT

The Space

 Crossing Highways, Byways and Mountains: A Quest to Recover Sacred Visions”

This talk will trace twentieth century social movements and migration stories in Boston, Massachusetts and Excelsior, West Virginia to examine how odds-defying, cross-racial coalitions confronted their built and natural environments to create something no one thought was possible.

Dr. Karilyn Crockett’s research focuses on large-scale land use changes in twentieth century American cities and examines the social and geographic implications of structural poverty and racial formations. Karilyn’s book "People before Highways: Boston Activists, Urban Planners, and a New Movement for City Making" (UMASS Press 2018) investigates a 1960s era grassroots movement to halt urban extension of the U.S. interstate highway system and the geographic and political changes in Boston that resulted. In 2019 this book was named one of the “ten best books of the decade” by the Boston Public Library Association of Librarians. Previously Karilyn co-founded Multicultural Youth Tour of What's Now (MYTOWN), an award winning, Boston-based, educational non-profit organization. MYTOWN hired public high school students to research their local and family histories to produce youth-led walking tours for sale to public audiences. During its nearly 15 years of operation, MYTOWN created jobs for more than 300 low and moderate-income teenagers, who in turn led public walking tours for more than 14,000 visitors and residents. In a White House ceremony, the National Endowment for the Humanities cited MYTOWN as “One of ten best Youth Humanities Programs in America.”

Karilyn holds a PhD from the American Studies program at Yale University, a Master of Science in Geography from the London School of Economics, and a Master of Arts and Religion from Yale Divinity School. Karilyn served for four years with the Mayor's Office of Economic Development as the Director of Economic Policy & Research and the Director of Small Business Development for the City of Boston. She recently completed her service as the City of Boston's first Chief of Equity, a Cabinet-level position Mayor Walsh established to embed equity and racial justice into all City planning, operations, and work moving forward. She holds a faculty appointment as professor of urban history, public policy and planning in MIT's Department of Urban Studies & Planning. She is currently leading the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce in a partnership with the Boston Federal Reserve Bank to revisit the 2015 “Color of Wealth” report on closing the racial wealth gap. Karilyn’s career mission is to continue to work at the nexus of education, economic development policy and urban revitalization. In 2022 Yale Divinity School awarded Karilyn the William Sloane Coffin ‘56 Award for Peace & Justice for making a  “notable contribution to the work of peace and reconciliation.”

About the Harrod Lectures

The Howard L. Harrod Lecture was established to honor Harrod, the Oberlin Alumni Professor of Social Ethics and Sociology of Religion, who taught for more than 30 years at Vanderbilt. Harrod worked extensively in environmental ethics and activism and was an advocate for new ways of understanding the relationships of humans with the animal and natural worlds. Past Harrod Lectures have been delivered by Catherine Keller, Ray Suarez, David Loy, Tom Dillehay, Mark D. Jordan, and Norman K. Gottwald, Melissa Snarr, and Dennis Dickerson.