Department of Health Sciences Equity, Inclusion, and Anti-Racism Statement
Department Values Statement
We, members of the Boston University Health Sciences Department, affirm unequivocally that Black lives matter and stand in solidarity with Black, Brown, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)-identified individuals, and with all who have and continue to be affected by the racist structures of our society and injustice. We also affirm the rights of all individuals and communities that represent the depth and breadth of the human experience. Specifically, though not exhaustively, we stand in solidarity with LGBTQIA+ identifying individuals, disabled individuals, individuals of all body sizes, individuals of all faith traditions, individuals of all races/ethnicities, female-identifying individuals, individuals of all nationalities, citizenships and immigration statuses, and individuals of all socioeconomic statuses. Wherein each individual may experience both privilege and oppression in their individual experiences, we aim to create a culture and society where each person is empowered to enjoy a life of individual experience, free from individual or systemic oppression. We write this statement, asserting our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion because a free and just society can only be realized when all individuals are pursuing their right to life and their individual experience by equitably being able to live out their full, authentic lives.
We condemn the brutality and racist hate, violence, and murder of BIPOC-identified individuals, not only recently but across many centuries. We recognize that centuries of racism persisting in America does not equate to centuries of addressing and eradicating racism, and that significant work must be done to achieve an equitable society. While, primarily, individuals from marginalized communities have been combating oppression throughout history, larger societal movements to tackle systemic racism in this country only started less than 100 years ago. We recognize that racist, oppressive systems have persisted within many organizations, communities, and institutions for much longer.
Furthermore, we recognize that Boston has significant racist roots, including but not limited to disparities in opportunities offered to Bostonians in housing, education, access to healthcare, transportation, and other resources necessary to live and thrive. Specifically, Boston still suffers from the lasting effects of discriminatory urban development and housing practices that correlate with significantly different health outcomes between neighborhoods within the city (see here, here, and here). Our commitment to equity and justice in the classroom extends into our communities as well.
We recognize many diversity, equity, and inclusion statements are often read as performative, and are created in reaction to recent events that have received significant media attention. We recognize that these recent events merely scratch the surface of the oppressive and violent roots that this nation was founded upon. In the hopes of being proactive in our determination to achieve equity, we have concluded this statement with actions that are currently being taken and actions that we are committed to taking in order to realize our values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
We cannot remain silent. We acknowledge this statement as a starting point for our socially just, antiracist, anti-imperialist, anti-heteronormative, and anti-abelist work. We are committed to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in science and beyond, and strive to counteract the underrepresentation of many racial and ethnic, disability, economically disadvantaged, female-identifying, and LGBTQIA+ identities in the scientific community.
The healthcare, educational, and social systems where we live, learn, and work are built upon and maintained by systemically and structurally racist and oppressive systems. We recognize the violations of ethics, human rights, and crimes against humanity that have taken place within these institutions. Historically, health sciences as a field has exploited marginalized individuals and communities in the pursuit of scientific gains reserved for the privileged. The consequences of this history remain evident and influential today and the structures of discrimination are reinforced by omission of the fact that our society created the systems that allowed these events to happen. Therefore, it is especially important for us as members of the Health Sciences Department to clearly recognize and identify, and then disrupt/dismantle, these historical and perpetuated systemic barriers that oppress certain individual experiences.
The Department of Health Sciences comprises three programs: Health Science, Human Physiology, and the Programs in Nutrition. Each of these fields faces overlapping yet distinct challenges in equity and antiracist/anti-bias work. Each of these programs is actively working to address and eradicate racism and other forms of bias and discrimination. Faculty in each program have access to many college and university-wide trainings on diversity and inclusion, and individuals participate in these programs across the academic year.
In addition to these university/college initiatives, Health Sciences Department is engaging in a number of actions including but not limited to:
- Curriculum revisions and course development dedicated to antiracism and anti-bias
- Inclusive pedagogy
- Research and scholarship centering on diversity and inclusion
- Holistic review processes for graduate applications with goal to increase diversity in student population
- Requirement for all faculty and staff who are on hiring committees to attend diversity, equity, and inclusion training, with specific efforts directed at recruiting diverse applicants
- Engagement in diversity and inclusion-minded programs (e.g., Posse Foundation, Boston Alliance for Diversity in Dietetics)
Commitment to Future Actions
We recognize the actions mentioned above are simultaneously non-exhaustive and not enough. Science and practice are ever changing. We, as members of the Health Sciences Department, are committed to a process of unlearning and re-learning. Grounded in humility, we are committed to incorporating lessons learned from our mistakes to move forward in our work as individuals and as a department toward the achievement of a diverse, inclusive, and equitable community.
In order to ensure achievement of a truly diverse, inclusive, and equitable department, we are working to establish systems of accountability. These actions are consistent with pillars in both the College’s and the University’s strategic plans. Specifically, Boston University’s BU 2030 strategic plan pillar number 3 is “Diversity, equity, and inclusion.” The University has pledged to “be a more diverse institution with equitable access, inclusive practices, and opportunities for all faculty, staff, and students while also contributing leading research and programs on social justice”. Sargent College’s strategic plan pillar “Reimagine the Sargent Landscape” strategy O-4 reads: “Cultivate an inclusive environment that values diversity.” We plan to collaborate with the College and University Provost’s Office to be successful in achieving these goals.
- Develop and provide department and/or program-level ongoing trainings on inclusive pedagogy, antidiscrimination, and antiracism for faculty and staff.
- Add discussions during faculty and staff annual performance evaluations regarding taken actions and new goals related to diversity and inclusion in programs, classrooms, and the department.
- Add supplemental quantitative and qualitative course evaluation questions designed to assess students’ experience of inclusivity in health sciences course classroom spaces as an aggregate. The Department of Health Sciences will position itself as a leader within the university on this initiative.
- Commit to the active and ongoing pursuit of resources to sustain funding for diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in our Department
- Host events for the Health Sciences community to engage in DEI-related conversations and collaborative learning between faculty, staff, and students.
- Discuss at the college-level strategies to clarify/improve the reporting processes for instances of bias, discrimination, and harassment complaints made against BU staff or faculty members (Equal Opportunity Office), or against students (Office of Judicial Affairs) as well as instances of sexual misconduct (Title IX department of the Equal Opportunity Office).
We maintain a resource list for department members (students, faculty, and staff) to access in support of self or others who may want/need additional information on diversity, equity, and inclusion. These resources range from support/mental health services, community forums, trainings on racial identity, information on antiracist pedagogy, and sources for a more inclusive history of health sciences.
Resources to receive and give support within the Boston community and beyond.
- BU Academic Services Center
- BU Counseling Resources
- BU Complaint Procedures in Cases Discrimination or Harassment
- BU Title IX Team
- ARROWS: Advance, Recruit, Retain, and Organize Women in STEM
- GWISE: Graduate Women in Science and Engineering
- WISE: Women in Science and Engineering (For Faculty)
- The Safe Place: Minority mental health app geared towards the Black community
- Melanin & Mental Health: Podcasts, articles, and therapist search engine
- Liberate: a mindfulness app made by BIPOC for BIPOC and includes meditations on coping with racism, historical trauma, and other unique needs of the community.
- Rest for Resistance: “Strives to uplift marginalized communities,” and “seek[s] to create healing space for LGBTQIA+ individuals, namely trans & queer people of color.”
- Boston College Statement on the Surge in Anti-Asian Violence and Reading List
Learn about advocacy initiatives and how to be an advocate within the community.
- BU Sargent College: Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Resources
- Black Lives Matter Boston
- Black Lives Matter: Ways You Can Help
- An Antiracist Agenda for Medicine
- 106 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice
- How to Support the Asian-American Community in Boston
- An Ongoing List of Ways to Join the Anti-Racist Fight
- UC Davis: LGBTQIA Ally Tips
- UConn: Anti-Racism Resources for Students, Educators, and Citizens
From history to modern day, the lived experiences of people in Boston and beyond.
- BU Center for Antiracist Research
- How to Be an Antiracist: Ibram Kendi
- Project CommUNITY: Brief history of race, racism in Massachusetts
- The 1619 Project
- Harvard Implicit Bias Test
- 26 Mini Films for Exploring Race Bias and Identity with Students
- Resources for White People to Learn and Talk about Race and Racism
- TEDx Talk: I Was Almost A School Shooter
- Cite Black Women Collective Podcast
- Native Land Map
Note: This statement was developed as a collaboration between faculty, staff and student members of the Department of Health Sciences. This statement is intended to be a living document that we will update as our department learns, grows, and adapts to the needs of our students and communities.