Assembly Series closes season with talks on tolerance, love

Poussaint speaks on tolerance and diversity

An expert on race relations, prejudice and diversity issues in a multicultural society, Alvin Poussaint, M.D., will present the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Lecture for the Assembly Series. The talk will be held at 4 p.m., Tuesday, April 15, in the Laboratory Sciences Auditorium.


Poussaint, professor of psychiatry and faculty associate dean for student affairs at Harvard Medical School, is director of the Media Center of the Judge Baker Children’s Center in Boston. He also is an advocate for reducing the influence of advertising in children’s lives.

Poussaint believes that extreme (violent) racists suffer from a delusional mental illness. He lectures widely on college campuses and serves as a consultant to government agencies and private corporations. In addition, he is active as a media consultant on a wide range of social issues. He is concerned with media images and issues regarding the needs of children and the changing family; he has been active in the national TV rating and V-chip discussions. He is a strong proponent of nonviolent parenting and parenting education.

Poussaint co-wrote “Come on People: On the Path from Victims to Victors” with activist comedian Bill Cosby. He also worked as a script consultant on Cosby’s popular sitcom, “The Cosby Show.” It was Poussaint’s job to review scripts and consult on psychological and educational issues to avoid inappropriate humor or stereotypes.

He is the author of “Why Blacks Kill Blacks” and co-authored “Raising Black Children,” as well as “Lay My Burden Down: Suicide and the Mental Health Crisis Among African Americans.”

Born in East Harlem, he attended Columbia University and earned a medical degree from Cornell University in 1960. He completed his postgraduate training at the University of California, Los Angeles, Neuropsychiatric Institute. At UCLA, he pursued research in psychopharmacology.

Fisher explains crazy little thing called love

If, like millions of people, you scratch your head in amazement when an Eliot Spitzer-type scandal becomes public, perhaps Helen Fisher, Ph.D., can enlighten you. The Rutgers University anthropologist will give the Assembly Series/Women’s Society of Washington University talk at 11 a.m. Wednesday, April 16, in Graham Chapel. Her address, “The Drive to Love: The Biology, Evolution and Future of Romantic Love,” is free and open to the public. This is the final lecture of the 2007-08 Assembly Series.


Her research draws on both evolutionary behavior and brain chemistry to explain that love, sex, romance and marriage are hard-wired into human beings. Fisher believes that romantic love is not just a feeling; it is, rather, a drive so powerful it overtakes all others and causes irrational behavior akin to addiction.

Fisher is widely considered to be the foremost expert on the science and evolution of romantic love and has written four books: “Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love”; “Anatomy of Love: The Natural History of Monogamy, Adultery, and Divorce,” selected as a “Notable Book of 1992” by The New York Times Book Review; “The Sex Contract: The Evolution of Human Behavior”; and “The First Sex: The Natural Talents of Women and How They Are Changing the World,” which was named a “Notable Book of 1999” by The New York Times Book Review.

She also is the chief scientific advisor to and is working on the development of its “chemistry profile” — a personality assessment and matching system for online dating.

Fisher earned a bachelor’s degree from New York University and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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