Creating a more inclusive department
Promoting the highest standards of diversity, equity and inclusion has long been at the forefront of the Department of Biobehavioral Health’s mission.
In 2019, the department released a new Diversity Statement that confirms its commitment to creating a space where all are welcome and can develop and thrive in their education, research and service pursuits. The need for this commitment has only been reified by recent civil unrest against the acts of racism and violence towards people of color that persist across the country, regarding which the Department has also spoken.
Racism is a public health crisis and, in recognition of such, this year the department’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee is expanding its efforts to foster student, staff and faculty engagement with issues of race and diversity. Some proposed activities that are being explored include:
- Inviting faculty to include voices from authors of diverse backgrounds in their syllabi and to make their reading recommendations available to others. In anthropology terms, we will encourage faculty to “decolonize their syllabus.” The committee will then create a “resource library” of published literature that features diverse authors and focuses on issues around diversity, racism and health. This resource library will be organized by course, and made available to all BBH faculty so as to support a greater emphasis on diversity issues in course materials presented to students.
- Facilitating of a shift in the undergraduate curriculum such that learning around issues of diversity and health becomes integral to the BBH program. For example, in coordination with the Undergraduate Program committee, discussions have begun regarding the identification of a course on health disparities, race and bias which will serve as a mandatory requirement for all undergraduate majors. There is also conversation of the development of a standalone learning module on diversity, which can be integrated into a range of BBH courses, including those offered at the commonwealth campuses.
- In order to provide ongoing opportunities for education and self-awareness within the department regarding issues such as antiracism, implicit bias, and microagressions, an evaluation of available diversity trainings will be undertaken with recommendations to follow.
- Promoting a range of diversity-related programs, including the Dean’s Lecture Series, which is produced by the College of Health and Human Development and offers a series of virtual public lectures from leading national and international scholars on the Impact of Structural Racism and Racial Discrimination on Health, Wellness, and Well-Being. All of the Dean’s Lectures are being recorded for later viewing.
In conjunction with the college of HHD Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Organizational Practices Strategy, the committee plans to continue to evaluate recruiting and hiring practices regarding diversity. As noted in the HHD plan, this will address issues such as search committee training, assessing pools for diversity, and acknowledgement of bias in the recruitment and hiring process.
In conjunction with the College of Health and Human Development Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Organizational Practices Strategy, the committee plans to continue to evaluate recruiting and hiring practices regarding diversity. As noted in the HHD plan, this will address issues such as search committee training, assessing pools for diversity, and acknowledgement of bias in the recruitment and hiring process.