Author, journalist to conclude Forum lecture series


The 2016 University Forum series will conclude at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Bennett Auditorium. The forum will feature journalist Barbara Ehrenreich, author of “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By In America and Living With a Wild God.”

Ehrenreich pursued a degree in chemistry and earned a doctorate in cellular immunology from Rockefeller University. However, after completing her graduate studies, she ended her career in science as her focus shifted.

According to her website, Ehrenreich went through a personal and political change after the birth of her daughter in 1970.

“I got involved with what we then called the ‘women’s health movement,’” Ehrenreich said.

She began advocating for better healthcare for women and access to better information than what was available at the time.

“I have never seen a conflict between journalism and activism,” she said. “As a journalist, I search for the truth. But as a moral person, I am also obliged to do something about it.”

Her writing has appeared in various national publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Time, Mother Jones and Harper’s Weekly. Though she mostly freelanced, she wrote book-length projects, which often focused on social and economic injustice.

In 2000, she received the Sidney Hillman Award for journalism for the article that would eventually become a chapter in the book “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America,” which detailed her experiment living on minimum wage while taking the cheapest lodgings possible. She worked as a waitress, hotel maid and a Wal-Mart salesperson across three states.

Ehrenreich served as an adjunct associate professor at New York University from 1979 to 1981, during which she shared the National Magazine Award for excellence in reporting with her colleagues at Mother Jones for “The Corporate Crime of the Century,” about a process called “dumping.”

According to the story, after the U.S. government forces a drug off the domestic market, the manufacturer can then sell
the product to the rest of the world, often with the help of the state department.

She currently serves as an honorary co-chair of the Democratic Socialists of America, serves on the Board of Directors for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and has served on the editorial board of Mother Jones.

After finishing “Nickel and Dimed,” Ehrenreich was diagnosed with breast cancer, which led to her writing the award-winning article “Welcome to Cancerland,” published in Harper’s Magazine. She wrote about what she called the “breast cancer cult.”

The article inspired the 2011 documentary “Pink Ribbons, Inc.”