Outstanding Sociology Opportunity Speaker Series Welcomes Dr. Melissa Wilde on March 17

March 15, 2016
Melissa WildeMelissa Wilde, Photo courtesy of University of Pennsylvania

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Media contact: Terry Goodrich, (254) 710-3321

WACO, Texas (March 15, 2016) – Baylor’s department of sociology will host Melissa Wilde, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, for the Outstanding Sociology Opportunity (OSO) Speaker Series at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, March 17, in Bennett Auditorium.

Wilde’s lecture, “Fewer and Better Children: Race, Class, Religion and Birth Control Reform in America,” is based on her recent article published in the “American Journal of Sociology,” in which she examined the viewpoints of Catholic and Protestant national-level leaders in the era before World War II. During that time, Jim Crow segregation in the South and anti-immigrant sentiment were well embedded in the nation’s institutions and laws. Meanwhile, national social movements pushing for affordable contraception and the promotion of pseudo-scientific ideas like eugenics were emerging.

“What Dr. Wilde has discovered is that highly influential Christian leaders who once stood against birth control methods suddenly had a change of heart on these issues when facing the reality that native-born and immigrant minorities were growing in number,” said Jerry Park, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology. “More than just a historical footnote, Dr. Wilde will show us how our contemporary ‘culture war’ battles in the United States are rooted in part by dynamic religious views that began well before the 1960s.”

Wilde graduated from New York University with a B.A. in sociology in 1996. She then earned her M.A. in sociology in 1998 from the University of California, Berkeley. In 2002, she earned her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.

Wilde is currently working on a book, “Birth of the Culture Wars: How Race Divided American Religion,” seeking to understand why the American religious field first began to diverge on issues of sex and gender by looking into 31 of the largest denominations’ stances on contraception from 1931.

This event is free and open to the public. Bennett Auditorium is located in Draper Academic Building, 1420 S. Seventh St.

For more information, contact Jerry Park.

by Bethany Harper, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

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