Roberts is an associate professor of history in the School of Arts and Sciences and also an associate professor of sociomedical sciences in the Mailman School of Public Health. He is the former director of Columbia University’s Institute for Research
in African American Studies. In his teaching, research, writing, and public speaking, Roberts specializes in the history of African-Americans, medical and public health, urban societies, and social movements, as well as in issues of policing and criminal
justice. He is the author of Infectious Fear: Politics, Disease,
and the Health Effects of Segregation (UNC Press, 2009), which examines tuberculosis among urban African American communities in the early twentieth century, drawing links among public health policies, segregation practices, and poor health outcomes.
In 2013–14, Roberts served as the policy director of Columbia University’s Justice Initiative, where he worked with various partnering organizations to shed light on the growing incarcerated elderly population. This work led to the landmark 2015 report,
Aging in Prison: Reducing Elder Incarceration and Promoting Public Safety.”
Roberts is currently conducting research for a book on the history of drug addiction policy and politics from the 1950s to the 1990s. The book will explore the heroin epidemics of that period and the development of therapeutic communities, radical recovery
movements, methadone maintenance treatment, and harm reduction approaches.
Roberts serves on a number of organizational advisory and executive boards and is a founding member of the Black Harm Reduction Working Group. He is also the host of the public health and social justice podcast PDIS: People Doing Interesting
Roberts's visit is co-sponsored by the Pan-African Studies Program; the Public
Health Program; the School of Graduate Studies and Research; the College of
Health and Human Services; the College of Humanities and Social Sciences; and by the departments of Anthropology, History, Sociology, Psychology, Political Science, and Criminology and Criminal Justice.
Questions may be sent to Marveta Ryan-Sams, the coordinator of the Pan-African Studies Program.