179015 Interdisciplinary approaches: A student-initiated course on Critical Race Theory

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Jennifer J. García, MPH , School of Public Health, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA
Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a branch of legal scholarship that studies the relationship between race and law in U.S. society. Last year, social science graduate students at UCLA recognized the potential that a CRT lens could bring to disciplines outside of law. Students from the fields of urban planning, public policy, social welfare, education, and public health initiated a student-led CRT class to study the causes and symptoms of institutional and structural racism and explore how CRT concepts and methodologies apply to social science disciplines. Class participants acted as both students and teachers, and produced a final collaborative report that underscores the importance of race-conscious training in graduate and professional school for researchers and practitioners working toward racial and social justice. Ongoing efforts of the student organizers include a critical race studies working group, CRT “teach-ins” and plans to offer the class again this year. A pivotal byproduct from the class is the potential of a critical race perspective in stimulating novel approaches to understanding and addressing social inequalities in health. Public health applications of CRT include the use of intersectionality as a framework for understanding health disparities, the role that implicit bias may play in health care settings, and a critical examination of how a race neutral approach to health policy and research reinforces the racist status quo. In creating and participating in this process the students have encountered many challenges, but have also found the power in reaching across disciplinary borders to achieve a shared goal.

Learning Objectives:
1. Understand the need for race-conscious, social justice-oriented graduate training. 2. Identify applications of Critical Race Theory to public health study and practice. 3. Recognize the power of interdisciplinary student collaborations.

Keywords: Social Justice, Education

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I wrote the abstract.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.