Tia Noelle Pratt, PhD is a higher education professional, researcher, and inclusion & diversity specialist based in Philadelphia, PA. She received her PhD in sociology from Fordham University in 2010. A sociologist of religion by training, she is an expert in systemic racism with twenty years of experience researching and writing about how systemic racism impacts African-American Catholic identity. For 2018-19, she is the inaugural Scholar-in-Residence at the Aquinas Center in Philadelphia, PA. She is also the President and Director of Research at TNPratt & Associates, LLC.
Dr. Pratt’s research examines the intersection of race and religion and the ways systemic racism impacts the experience of religion. Using ethnography and in-depth interviews, Dr. Pratt studies the Roman Catholic Church as an institution, providing needed sociological analysis of race and religion. Dr. Pratt is currently working on a book project, Black and Catholic, Catholic and Black: Structure, Racism, and Identity in the African-American Catholic Experience. This project draws on ethnographic data investigates liturgy as a form of identity work and analyzes how systemic racism in the Catholic Church has resulted in the small number of African-American Catholics. This project will also address parish reorganizations resulting from church closings. It demonstrates that African-American Catholics have combined the dual heritages of Roman Catholicism and African-American religious traditions such as music, preaching, and commitment to social justice to form a singular identity.
Additionally, Dr. Pratt conducts research on millennial generation Catholics and their attitudes towards pro-life teachings and young adults’ engagement with society’s major institutions. Focusing on how their perspectives can serve as a bellwether for the Church’s political strategy, this research demonstrates that without a major shift, the Church risks losing an entire generation of Roman Catholics. In future work, she anticipates focusing on pertinent social justice issues that are of particular concern to the millennial generation including immigration and climate change. She anticipates that by focusing on these issues to specifically engage the millennial generation, the Church can avoid losing an entire generation of Catholics, thus ensuring its own survival.
This work contributes to a broader understanding of social institutions that is necessary as society becomes increasingly racially diverse and the millennial generation takes on expanding leadership roles.
Dr. Pratt is an active public scholar and regularly gives lectures intended for a wide audience. She has given public lectures for the American Catholic Historical Society and the Diocese of Camden among others. Dr. Pratt is also active in several professional organizations including the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion and the Association for the Sociology of Religion. She regularly presents her work at national conferences. In 2019, Dr. Pratt was elected Secretary of the Association for the Sociology of Religion’s Council. She is the first person elected to this position and will serve until 2021.
As an outgrowth of her research and a response to systemic racism in the institutions she studies, Dr. Pratt founded TNPratt & Associates in 2018. TNPratt & Associates is a research and consulting firm providing a variety of services to aid clients in developing strategic solutions to meet their inclusion & diversity needs.