Celebrate Diversity Month: The Work We Are Doing

Illustration of diverse group of hands surrounding the word diversity

Celebrate Diversity Month is an opportunity to recognize the work yet to be done as a society and a college to promote diversity, equity and inclusion. It also gives us a chance to acknowledge the work that is happening.

The following list is by no means exhaustive, but it serves to highlight some activities happening in a couple big categories across the College of Pharmacy community. In acknowledging this work, there is also recognition of the people who have spearheaded these efforts. While each individual has a responsibility to promote diversity, equity and inclusion, there are champions who have helped support these efforts.

Education/Training(curriculum, education and training resources for our internal College of Pharmacy community)

  • Ally training has been offered to faculty, staff and students by the Office of Equity and Diversity.
  • This Canvas site offers educational resources developed by members of the College of Pharmacy Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for faculty, staff and students.
  • PEDRx: On April 9, the college held its annual PEDRx in which three speakers (Jotham Apungu, Vibuthi Arya and Nimit Jindal) spoke on “Pharmacists Addressing Structural Racism in Health Care” and students with the support of faculty, staff, alumni and employers discussed this critical topic in an effort to learn, share and identify how to take action moving forward.
  • The College of Pharmacy has created two types of pipeline programs aimed at enhancing diversity.
    • The Summer College of Pharmacy Experience (SCoPE program) which will begin summer of 2021, aims to provide pharmaceutical career exploration opportunities, and tailored research experiences for junior and senior undergraduates from underrepresented minority groups, or who are first-generation college students, or individuals facing socioeconomic social challenges to their career paths.
    • The second pipeline program focuses on partnering with key institutions to develop “Early Assurance Programs” for admission and entry into our professional program.
  • A new elective (PHAR 6272) entitled “Shaping an Antiracist Future for Healthcare” was offered fall semester, 2021.
  • A new elective on “Dr. Chauncey Ira Cooper: Racial and Social Injustice Good Reads” is under review by the Education Policy Committee for consideration as a fall elective.
  • The Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) has been used as an educational assessment in the College of Pharmacy program for a number of years, but recently efforts have broadened to have P1 and P4 students complete the assessment. Students are then debriefed on the findings, enabling the assessment of student development as well as curricular effectiveness related to intercultural intelligence.
  • Mark Your Calendars for these upcoming educational events!
    • Navigating Challenging Conversations | June 6, 2021 | 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
    • Microaggressions and Implicit Bias in the Classroom | October 14, 2021 | 12-1:30 p.m.

Community (support and engagement of our internal College of Pharmacy community - faculty, staff and students and activities that affect the communities beyond our college)

  • The Living our Values initiative was a college-wide effort to articulate college values and the associated behaviors. More work will be done to embed the values in all aspects of the college’s missions.
  • The admissions committee for the professional program has worked to revise its interview rubrics in an effort to better support a holistic admissions process.
  • The Committee on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (CEDI) worked with others to prepare a statement on our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion to be included in course syllabi, which was then approved by the Education Policy Committee. In addition, CEDI will co-sponsor a session on “Experiences and Beliefs of Muslim Women about their Head Coverings (Hijab) in US Educational Institutions” on April 21, 2021. This is cosponsored by SNPHA, and the PPPS Anti-racism Coalition. Mark your calendars and register here.
  • Ten members of the College of Pharmacy attended the AACP Institute on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Institute and are now working to further revise and further shape the college’s strategic plan as it relates to diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • The college currently offers eight different affinity groups (American Indian, Asian/Pacific Islander, Black or African American, First Generation College Students, Hispanic/Latinx, International Students, LGBTQIA, Persons Experiencing Disabilities) as well as allies for the groups which are aimed at supporting members of our community.
  • The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, with the support of CEDI and other faculty, have offered a number of listening sessions, particularly in response to the tragic events that have occurred over the past year. The next listening session will be on April 30, at 12:15-1:15 p.m. Plans are underway to have regularly scheduled listening sessions in the future.
  • The quarterly, college-wide Book and Media Club has had three sessions with many individuals throughout college participating. Watch for the announcement on our next session. Also, check out the growing list of other books and movies on diversity, equity and inclusion topics that may be of interest.
  • Many if not all departments in the college have launched a number of initiatives. Here are some of the highlights.
    • The Department of Pharmacy Practice and Pharmaceutical Sciences has created the CoP-D Antiracism Coalition. Their objective is to create an antiracist culture through vigilant self-reflection and discussion of race-related issues. Participants include CoPD faculty and staff. They have had three sessions to date.
    • The Department of Medicinal Chemistry is committed to facilitating the development and promotion of a departmental culture that values diversity, equity and inclusion. In 2020, they formed the Medicinal Chemistry Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force (MedC-DEITF) that is composed of elected representatives of constituent groups for the department, including graduate students, post-doctoral researchers, staff and faculty of all ranks. Read more about their activities to-date.
    • The Department of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology has reflected over the last year upon the many circumstances affecting elements of DEI. Its members have held listening sessions, held several meet-ups and engaged in University-wide activities related to DEI. As a Department, they have acknowledged the need to take action and support initiatives that both educate and lead to actions that address behavior of all members and procedures the department follows while addressing its mission. Read more about their work.
    • The Department of Pharmaceutical Care & Health Systems has been having DEI book club sessions. Faculty members, Amy Pittenger and Caroline Gaither, are involved in developing a race in medicine co-curricular session. In addition, read more about the DEI-related research projects occurring in the SAPh graduate program.
    • The Department of Pharmaceutics has a number of DEI activities and initiatives that involve faculty and staff. You can read more about them.
  • Students formed the Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA) Minnesota Chapter which aims to plan, organize, coordinate, and execute programs geared toward the improvement of the health, educational, and social environment of minority communities. Drs. Okoru and Gaither have worked to serve as the initial faculty advisors for this student organization.
  • A student group prepared and generated support for the Statement of Support for the Development of an Anti-Racist Curriculum: An Affirmation of College of Pharmacy Values and Petition for Change, which the college is responding to and addressing.
  • Faculty and the Curriculum Council are undertaking discussions as to how to enhance curriculum, including how to enhance cultural intelligence, how to incorporate diversity in patient cases/healthcare, address social justice and how to shift from race-based medicine to race and/or diversity conscious medicine.

Over time, the categories of the work and the types of activities will continue to evolve. It will take the whole college community to advance this work and more fully “respect, embrace and celebrate different perspectives and backgrounds to advance opportunities for all,” as the college’s values state. Individuals who want to connect to any of the above initiatives are encouraged to reach out to Dr. L’Aurelle Johnson, director of diversity, equity and inclusion, and she will connect people appropriately.

Next week, the Celebrate Diversity Month email, will highlight new initiatives that have been proposed for FY22. In the meantime, register for the Celebrate Diversity Month Capstone - April 27, 2021 | 12-1 p.m., where college community members are invited to come together to chat about the activities they’ve undertaken this month and what’s been learned.