Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot's Headshot

Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot

- Panelist Blurb

Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot is one of the nation's leading educators, whose most recent book, The Third Chapter: Passion, Risk, and Adventure in the 25 Years after 50, envisions a cultural shift in our attitudes toward the nearly 76 million Americans who are in "the third chapter" of their lives. She argues that this is a time for new experiences, adventures and outlooks.

A sociologist, professor of education at Harvard University, and the author of numerous books, Lawrence-Lightfoot's work has focused on race, class, culture, American schools, the education of minorities, and most recently, our cultural attitudes toward aging.

Lawrence-Lightfoot is the first African-American woman in Harvard's history to have an endowed professorship named in her honor.

In 1984, Lawrence-Lightfoot was awarded the prestigious MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, better known as the "genius award," and in 1993 she received Harvard's George Ledlie prize for research that makes the "most valuable contribution to science and the benefit of mankind." She has received 26 honorary degrees from universities and colleges in the United States and Canada.

Lawrence-Lightfoot has written nine books, including I've Known Rivers, which explores the development of creativity and wisdom using the lens of "human archaeology," The Art and Science of Portraiture, which documents her pioneering approach to social science methodology, and Respect: An Exploration, which reaches deep into human experience to find the essence of this powerful quality.

Lawrence-Lightfoot did her undergraduate work in psychology at Swarthmore College and received her doctorate in the sociology of education at Harvard in 1972. She enjoys long distance swimming, tennis, dance, the theater and symphony, playing the piano and traveling abroad.

NOTE: Bio is as it appeared in the Forum program from October 2, 2009.