All Alumni

Richards, Sam

Teaching Professor of  Sociology, Pennsylvania State University
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Website: https://www.soc119.org/

Dr. Samuel Richards is an award-winning teaching professor and sociologist at Penn State University who instructs the largest race and cultural relations course in the United States. With nearly 800 students each semester and a 28-year legacy, SOC 119 was the subject of an Emmy Award winning television broadcast called, “You Can’t Say That.” This course is currently live-streamed to the world (and nearly 50,000 subscribers from 160 countries) every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon (EST) at the class YouTube channel. The channel’s videos have generated over 8 million views by someone in 207 countries worldwide. Sam’s class “Stream Team” has produced numerous viral videos, including one that generated over 13 million views. Sam’s willingness to take risks and push new ideas is what led him to be named one of the “101 Most Dangerous Professors in America.” He obtained his Ph.D. from Rutgers University with a focus on socioeconomic development in Latin America. His current work focuses on developing ways to think about and discuss complex and controversial topics in a fresh way for the purpose of bridging cultural divides. Arguing that empathy is the core of Sociology, his "Radical Experiment in Empathy" is one of the most widely viewed TEDx talks online, having reached over 3.5 million people. As the Co-Founder and Director of Development at the World in Conversation Center, Sam co-directed an innovative research project sponsored by NATO’s Science for Peace and Security Programme to develop a virtual, facilitated cross-cultural dialogue tool for NATO military personnel and civilians in conflict zones. His work has been reported on in The New York Times, MSNBC, The Christian Science Monitor, and PBS, as well as numerous other national and international media outlets. Dr. Richards and his collaborator (and wife), Dr. Laurie Mulvey, have been called the “parents of radical empathy.”