My name is Melissa Nobles, and I believe in the power of ideas. Ideas are born from our educational and life experiences and from the world around us. Ideas shape our vision of the world. Every social movement begins with an idea or set of ideas. Every technological and scientific experiment is an idea put to the test. Nearly every human endeavor emerges from an idea of what is possible. As a professor and a leader, I have witnessed and am acutely aware of the power of ideas — how they connect to our past and future, and how understandings of our past inform future actions.
My passion for learning led me to Brown University where I majored in history. It was at Brown that my interest in the racial politics of Brazil was sparked. Recognizing the inextricable connection between politics and history, I pursued graduate education in political science at Yale University. My dissertation, titled “Responding with Good Sense: The Politics of Race and Censuses in Contemporary Brazil”, explored how census categories have been linked to upholding Brazil’s myth of racial democracy and obscuring racial disadvantage. My post-graduate work at Boston University's Institute for Race and Social Division and Harvard University's Radcliffe Center for Advanced Study allowed me to further examine the connections between ideas of race and the lived experiences of citizenship in countries all around the world.