Students seeking an education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine will have social justice front and center in their studies.
The College Fix reported that after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis by ex-cop Derek Chauvin, the school convened a task force to figure out how to integrate social justice into the medical school curriculum. In October 2020, the task force, led by Vice Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) E. Nate Thomas III, recommended 42 changes to the school’s curriculum in order to inject social justice into medical students’ teachings.
“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 said.
The report added that “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,” the report continued.
The report recommended that those wishing to be hired by the medical school demonstrate a “growth mindset as it relates to social justice.” This would mean, according to the report, that professors and other instructors “will be assessed regarding their contributions in the domain of social justice and incentivized for such contributions.”
Professors should “see work related to social justice or DEI as central to their work as faculty members,” the report added.
The report recommended that 50% of departments develop evaluation tools that “assess and incentivize a faculty member’s contributions to social justice” by 2022. By 2024, 100% of departments should have this tool.
Another recommendation from the report included the development of a curriculum that trained 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” in their teaching.
According to the Fix, the medical school is on track to meet every goal set in the report.
The report also listed five requirements for promotion and tenure request, with requirements such as research accomplishments and teacher evaluations last on the list. Second on the list is their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The report included examples of how a professor could demonstrate their commitment to diversity, one of which was displaying an equity sticker on their laptop.
“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,” the Fix reported. “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.’”
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