Suggests instructors put equity stickers on their laptops to promote culture of diversity
In the wake of the death of Minneapolis man George Floyd at the hands of police in May 2020, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Medicine quickly convened a “Task Force to Integrate Social Justice Into the Curriculum.”
By October, the task force, which was headed by Vice Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion E. Nate Thomas III, had issued a report recommending 42 changes to implement social justice into the medical school’s curriculum.
“To meet the needs of a growing diverse state, a curriculum embedded in social justice and anti-racist components is essential to patient care, health equity, reduction of health disparities, and most importantly, social change,” the report reads.
According to the report, “COVID 19 and the murder of George Floyd (and countless other people of color) has unveiled an ongoing reality that race has been and continues to be an extreme problem in America.”
“To navigate this problem we must continue to address the implications of race in our educational system and history. If we fail to meet this challenge, we will continue to experience and witness the disparities that disproportionately affect people of color. Ultimately these disparities, and the structures that perpetuate their growth, undermine the quality of life for all individuals and the vitality of the state.”
Foremost among the recommendations is creation of a mechanism by which instructors looking either to be hired or promoted must demonstrate a “growth mindset as it relates to social justice.”
According to this “goal” set by the report, professors and other teachers “will be assessed regarding their contributions in the domain of social justice and incentivized for such contributions.”
The new requirement aims to make faculty “see work related to social justice or DEI as central to their work as faculty members,” and their commitment to “anti-racism” would soon be a requirement for advancement through the school.
Among the factors used to determine whether an instructor is sufficiently committed to anti-racism will be anonymous evaluations submitted by students.
The goal set forth by the report recommends 50 percent of departments have evaluation tools that “assess and incentivize a faculty member’s contributions to social justice” in their teaching by 2022, increasing to 100 percent of departments by 2024. Additionally, the school’s Promotion and Tenure Guidelines would have social justice or DEI added as a domain required for promotion for all faculty by 2024.
Further, the medical school has been directed to develop curriculum to train instructors on “implicit bias, the history of discrimination and racism in the US and their relationship to health and health care, and skills to effectively incorporate issues of discrimination based on race/ethnicity, gender, sex, sexuality, nationality, religion, veteran status, socioeconomic status, body size, and other factors” related to teaching.
Vice Dean Thomas declined a request by The College Fix to comment for this story, as did the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
The task force’s website, which keeps track of which recommendations are being met, reports that every goal it set in the report is “on time” for implementation.
This is evident in a new “Guidelines for Appointment, Reappointment, and Promotion” document produced by the school that adds a DEI requirement for instructors looking to advance in the school.
The document lists five required elements that will be evaluated as part of promotion and tenure requests. The second requirement is the applicant’s “Positive contribution to DEI efforts,” which evaluates “participation in predoctoral student programs or mentoring, participation in departmental DEI committee work, participation in health equity work either through clinical or research activities, completion and application of DEI training (e.g., Safe Zone, Unconscious Bias), working with underrepresented minority (URM) youth to increase interest in STEM careers, leading journal or book clubs on DEI topics, promoting social justice (e.g., create curricular content that uses inclusive concepts, imagery, and terminology regarding protected status).”
Further down the list of requirements for promotion or tenure is a measure of a faculty member’s research accomplishments. Last on the list is evaluation of their teaching statements.
To make it easier for faculty members to fill out their diversity statements, the school has provided a document with four examples of how to demonstrate one’s commitment to diversity. In one example, the fictional tenure-seeker notes they “proudly display an equity sign on my laptop.”
“On two occasions while using my laptop at a coffee shop, I have been approached by a complete stranger who said ‘thank you for your support,’” the sample reads.
The report also recommends providing positive rewards for faculty who “demonstrate excellence in their teaching in the domain of social justice above and beyond the typical incentive plans.” The report suggests, for example, rotating endowed chairs within the medical school.
Task force members also sought to dictate what was taught in the classroom, including adding requirements that all lectures addressing known health disparities “will attend to those disparities and WHY they exist,” and suggesting each lecture have a “structural context” section, in addition to basic science and clinical material.
Instructors would also be required to “explain the difference between sex and gender and how specific organs and cells do not belong to specific genders.”
A spokesman for UNC-Chapel Hill did not immediately respond to a request by The College Fix for comment.
Among the other recommendations made by the task force’s report are:
-Provide/develop workshops by content experts for phase leadership and departments on how to incorporate outlined core concepts of anti-racism, with a plan for ongoing use.
-Develop and start relationship-based training for faculty and students on team-work, conflict resolution and inclusivity including evidence-based concepts of the relationship between belonging, trust, wellness and anti-racist curricula.
-More visibly display our commitment to social justice and the concrete action steps we’re taking to move toward that goal to learners, faculty, staff, and the wider community. Examples might include but are not limited to multimedia public relations campaigns, inclusive signage, and architectural and design changes in the physical space.
“While social issues will continue to exist, each generation has a chance to create social change and make this world better for marginalized and oppressed groups,” the report concludes. “Our goal is to one day eliminate the oppression and marginalization of diverse people and groups in our state and society. To do so, would allow everyone to lead a healthy and high-quality life.”
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