Celebrate Diversity!

Illustration of diverse hands pointing to the word diversityOn Tuesday, April 27, members of the College of Pharmacy community got together to share what they had done as part of “Celebrate Diversity Month.” The approaches people used were wide-ranging and included: 

  • Having conversations with individuals around current events and learning about their perspectives
  • Getting to know new people, being vulnerable both in terms of reaching out but also in terms of conversations
  • Expanding their own diversity, equity and inclusion tool kit by participating in EDI training which fostered conversations about topics often not discussed in higher education such as spirituality and religion. This also provided a foundation to have exploratory conversations about various topics (both during the educational sessions and beyond.)
  • Sharing diversity, equity and inclusion resources and ideas with individuals from diverse backgrounds and in different fields.
  • Reviewing old photos to remind themselves of communities they have connected with over the years and reaching out to friends across the world.
  • Cooking new and/or favorite dishes from different cultures. Cuisines included Ethiapoian, Thai, Greek, Pueblo and others.
  • Watching movies or reading books and reflecting on the messages and discussing the topics with family and friends.
  • Working with a guest speaker to develop a program for our students on “Experiences and Beliefs with Muslim Women about their Head Coverings (Hijab) in the U.S. Educational Institutions”. which will be held on Friday, April 30, 2021 at 12:15 p.m. Zoom registration link. The event is open to UMN College of Pharmacy students, staff and faculty only.
  • Having conversations with students, faculty, and staff regarding diversity topics to learn their perspective and to begin our journey to enhance diversity and inclusion together.

Like all of the history recognition months acknowledged throughout the year, the importance of celebrating diversity should be a focus 365 days a year. Keeping diversity, equity and inclusion top of mind can begin with seeking to understand and listen. From there, it takes all of us moving to individual and collective action. If you haven’t yet, take time to reach out and learn about similarities and differences amongst individuals. The ideas listed by colleagues above are great for sparking interest and generating other ideas. 

Last week’s Celebrate Diversity Month email outlined a number of initiatives underway within the College of Pharmacy and its departments. There is much more to do and it will take collective work to identify additional initiatives and actions.  Some preliminary directions for FY22 not mentioned in last week’s email include: 

  • expanding our pipeline programs to enhance diversity
  • continuing investments in assessments, educational programs, resource kits and professional development
  • inviting and supporting guest speakers to facilitate critical conversations
  • developing new initiatives to promote student success and thriving
  • enhancing our culture so that we become a welcoming and respectful workplace for all
  • investing in awards connected to diversity, equity and inclusion
  • updating policies and procedures to ensure inclusivity within the college, and if possible, exploring how we can approach salary equity overtime. 

There are many other ideas and initiatives departments, individual faculty and staff, and students have under development. Please share your ideas with each other and with Dr. L’Aurelle Johnson whose Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will be helping to support or coordinate these efforts. As always, you can also reach out to Dean Lynda Welage at any time. We must all continue this journey together.