Dr. Robert holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Systems and Finance from Fairfield University (Connecticut). She earned a Master of Divinity degree in Systematic Theology and Social Ethics from Union Theological Seminary (New York). Dr. Robert earned a Master of Arts and completed a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Religion at Claremont School of Theology (California) with a focus on Ethics and Public Policy. She earned a certificate in Diversity, Equity and Incusion in the Workplace from University of South Florida Muma College of Business. She is a clinically trained healthcare chaplain and completed four units of Clinical Pastoral Education. Additionally, Dr. Robert completed five-years of denominational training and is an ordained Itinerant Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
As an interdisciplinary scholar, Dr. Robert’s research is situated within the fields of religion, ethics and public policy. More particularly, Dr. Robert examines the intersections of race, gender and class to explore religious and sociopolitical responses to the criminalization of impoverished Black motherhood. In addition, she has served on the Board of Directors for the Society of Christian Ethics for four Annual Meetings and currently serves as a steering committee member for the Liberation Theologies group at the American Academy of Religion.
Dr. Robert has published two peer-review journal articles. In Horizontes Decoloniales (Decolonial Horizons), the article titled, “A Lingual Politic: Power and Resistance in Sacred, Secular and Subaltern Narratives in an Age of Mass Incarceration,” is translated in Spanish and received international readership on at least five continents. In the Harvard Graduate Journal, the second article titled, “Penitence, Plantation and the Penitentiary: A Liberation Theology for Lockdown America,” has received several citations and readership at seminaries, colleges and universities in the U.S. and abroad.
Dr Robert’s research fills a lacuna in religious scholarship by giving primacy to black women’s experience with criminality using mixed methods in theology, ethics and public policy. The scholarly threads that interlace Dr. Robert’s research are threefold: (1) to center black women by examining the interstices of race, gender/sexuality and class, (2) to critique Christian interpretations of punitive philosophies, and (3) to construct liberating paradigms using abolitionist ideals of human flourishing beyond prisons, policing and punishment.
Dr. Robert’s dissertation is titled, “Breaking the Law When the Law Breaks Us: A Womanist Theo-Ethical Approach to Public Policy and Criminal Justice Advocacy for the Black Church. As an interdisciplinary scholar, this study engages ethics, theology and public policy to uncover the crisis of mass criminalization that disproportionately impacts impoverished Black mothers. I argue that there is a peculiar overlap between churches and the carceral state whereby Christianity generally, and Black churches specifically, have contributed to extreme and unnecessary suffering by embracing punitive theologies that justify the criminalization of poor Black mothers who break the law to survive and secure quality of life. A framing question that guides this study is: How can socially justice-oriented Black churches connect liberatory ecclesial teachings with transformative justice strategies and public policy designs to undermine the carceral state and advocate for impoverished Black mothers?
Future research will explore tensions between law and morality in the context of Black mothers’ survival strategies and the ways in which churches can respond by adapting teachings and practices aligned with the goals of becoming an Abolitionist Sanctuary.
The pedagogical approach that guides Dr. Robert’s teaching is directly informed by her research, which is situated at the intersection of critical race theory and Black feminist/womanist religious thought. Black literary novelist Toni Morrison and Womanist ethicist emilie townes use a metaphor of the “dancing mind” as an invitation to include varied voices in a mutual learning process that is dialogical, reflective and transformative. Dr. Robert applies these principles by creating a learning environment that is inclusive, encourages participation and promotes robust conversation.
In the classroom, Dr. Robert uses integrative and creative didactics that rely on a range of approaches to meet various styles of learning. A significant learning outcome that Dr. Robert aspires to achieve is to use course material, instructional design and discussion to help students to critically challenge their fundamental beliefs by exploring new perspectives and to connect theory to praxis in ways that are relevant for real-life contexts. In accordance with Dr. Robert’s experience, dialogical learning helps students to persuasively articulate their arguments, defend their ideas and communicate their understanding using intellectual breadth and high emotional aptitude.
These pedagogical foci form the core of Dr. Robert’s teaching philosophy, which aims to cultivate the “dancing mind” through a commitment to diverse scholarship, critical conversation and mutual learning that inspires social change.