Sam and Laurie Bios

Dr. Samuel Richards is an award winning teacher and sociologist at Penn State University and the instructor of the largest race, gender and cultural relations course in the United States. With over 760 students each semester and a twenty-year legacy, that course was the subject of an Emmy Award winning television broadcast called, “You Can’t Say That.” The course is currently streamed live to the world every Tuesday and Thursday from 4:35-5:50pm (EST) at 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.” Sam obtained his Ph.D. from Rutgers University with a focus on socioeconomic development of Africa and Latin America. His current work focuses on inequality stemming from racial and gender differences and he works to develop programs that bridge 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 million people. In that talk, he walks the audience through how an average Iraqi citizen might experience U.S. military policies in their country. As the Director of Development at the World in Conversation Center, Sam is currently co-director of a 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. The primary goal of the project is to offer people in conflict regions opportunities to humanize their enemies. His work has been reported on in The New York Times, MSNBC, The Christian Science Monitor, and PBS, as well as many other national and international media outlets. Dr. Richards and his wife, Laurie Mulvey, have been called the “parents of radical empathy.”


Dr. Laurie Mulvey is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the World in Conversation Center for Public Diplomacy at Penn State University. Under her leadership, World in Conversation has built the largest cross-cultural dialogue program in the United States, hosting more than 3,000 peer-facilitated dialogues per academic year. The Center works with the United Nations Development Programme, UNESCO, and NATO, along with organizations and universities in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Palestinian Territories, Israel, Kuwait, Qatar, China, Haiti, Saudi Arabia, and twelve nations in the NATO Alliance to host virtual cross-cultural dialogues between people separated by vast distances and borders. Dr. Mulvey’s work revolves around post-conflict transformation through peer-facilitated dialogue, most recently in Colombia where she is helping to launch a facilitator-training program to support the peace process there. Through her ongoing research and development of a methodology for cross-cultural dialogues, Dr. Mulvey is making it possible for average citizens all around the globe to disrupt legacies of conflict through the humanizing element of empathy. Dr. Mulvey is the author of Making Peace Between Our Colors: The Inner Work and is currently writing a book about inequality and facilitated dialogue.