a picture of Zelaika Hepworth Clarke smiling Zelaika Hepworth Clarke

Core Faculty
Human Sexuality
School of Consciousness and Transformation

PhD, Widener University, Chester, PA

MA, Widener University, Chester, PA; BA, New York University, New York, NY

Dr. Zelaika Hepworth Clarke received their PhD in Human Sexuality from Widener University and co-founded a sexuality studies concentration program that is committed to social justice at Goddard College in Vermont. Dr. Hepworth Clarke also holds a Master's in Education of Human Sexuality and Master's in Social Work from Widener University and received their Bachelor of Arts degree from New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Studies in Sexuality, Culture and Oppression. They are also a graduate of the International School of Transnational Decolonial Black Feminism in Cachoeira, Brazil, from the Decolonizing Knowledge and Power Summer School in Barcelona, Catalonia (Spain), and hold a certificate in Advocacy in Reproductive Health and HIV/AIDS from the Center for African Family Studies in Nairobi, Kenya. They also serve on the board of Relationship Equality Foundation (REF) and were recently mentioned in Psychology Today as an emergent African American thought leader for polyamorous communities.

Dr. Hepworth Clarke is a licensed social worker Pennsylvania, New York and Washington DC. They have expertise in sex therapy, sexual reproduction, reproductive health including HIV/AIDS and pelvic pain issues as well as trauma-informed therapeutic services supporting sexual and gender diversity, kink, ethical non-monogamy and other non-traditional relationship configurations. As a clinical sexologist, they specialize in treating sexual challenges, affirming pleasure and diversity, and working with diverse populations including but not limited to individuals, couples and polycules (any system of connected non-monogamous relationships), groups/families, people of color, two-spirit, people with disabilities, women with ethnic genital modifications, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, non-binary, transgender, demigender, asexual, polyamorous, etc..

As a sexuality educator, Dr. Hepworth Clarke borrows from African-centered pedagogies, especially the concept of the inner genius that recognizes every student as having something special to contribute to society with the teacher as facilitator to develop student recognition of their talents. Dr. Hepworth Clarke deploys the concept of Brave Spaces (popularize by Arao and Clemens, 2013) that encourage students to have conversations that allow for varying opinions to be accepted through controversy with civility and respect while owning their intentions and impacts. Their passion is to foster multi-epistemic literacy among students and professionals. Dr. Hepworth Clarke's approach to teaching is deeply informed by this notion, so they connect their teaching fundamentally to social justice, intersectionality, and kyriarchy (the theory of interconnected, interacting and self-extending systems of domination and submission in which a single individual might be oppressed and privileged). Putting this into practice in the classroom means that Dr. Hepworth Clarke integrates epistemic coyotismo to introduce theories and perspectives generally excluded from academia. They also utilize decolonial perspectives to include non-Western scholarship from the global south and Indigenous perspectives.

Dr. Hepworth Clarke's research interests include exploring non-hegemonic narratives and perspectives on sexuality. Dr. Hepworth Clarke is committed to the decolonial project and contributing to sexual multiepistemic literacy and non-patriarchal perspectives. Dr. Hepworth Clarke's cross-cultural doctoral dissertation focused on Ò̩ṣunality, a post-colonial paradigm that affirms sexual pleasures and African eroticism. A recent project titled "Operation Decolonial Sexualities" won the National Sexuality Education Conference's "Sex Ed Tank-Audience Favorite" Award in 2016. This project seeks to develop decolonial sexualities curriculum and education that affirms sexual pluralism without hierarchy while supporting sexual and erotic justice.


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