World in Conversation

Sam Richards
Sam Richards at Konkuk

Sam Richards


Dr. Sam Richards is an award-winning teaching professor and sociologist at Penn State University who instructs the largest race and culture course in the United States. With nearly 800 students each semester and a 30-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 (with over 300,000 subscribers from over 170 countries) every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon (EST) at the class YouTube channel. The SOC 119 “Stream Team” videos have generated over 160 million views in over 200 countries.

As our “co-founder and catalyst extraordinaire,” Sam has been involved in building every aspect of World in Conversation over the past twenty years. The center simply would not exist without his enthusiasm, vision, and ability to solve problems at every scale.

Sam earned his Ph.D. at Rutgers University with a research focus on the socioeconomic development of Africa and Latin America. His pedagogical work focuses on developing ways to discuss complex and controversial topics in a fresh way for the purpose of bridging cultural divides.

Arguing that empathy is the core of Sociology, Sam’s Radical Experiment in Empathy is one of the most widely viewed TEDx talks online, having reached over 3.5 million people. His willingness to take risks and explore ideas in a public forum is what led him to be named one of the “101 Most Dangerous Professors in America.”

Sam’s 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.