Online Program

Anti-Racism in Public Health Education: A Student-Driven Model for Change in a Master's of Public Health Program

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 9:20 a.m. - 9:35 a.m.

Ariel Hart, MPH, Health Services- Community Oriented Public Health Practice, University of Washington- School of Public Health, Seattle, WA
Jennifer Hagedorn, MPH, Health Services- Community Oriented Public Health Practice, University of Washington- School of Public Health, Woodinville, WA

Research suggests racial health inequities are created and maintained by systemic racism. White people will disproportionately benefit from public health interventions until systemic racism is dismantled. Thus, graduate-level public health programs should be grounded in anti-racism principles to equip students with the skills to eliminate racial inequities. Students of the University of Washington’s Community-Oriented Public Health Practice Program (COPHP) advocated their program adopt principles developed by the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond related to undoing institutional racism (UIR).



Using the People’s Institute definition of racism, we analyzed our program’s policies and practices to develop recommendations for more equitable classroom culture and curriculum. We collaborated with faculty and students to provide anti-racist workshops, culminating in a planning meeting. We consulted with community-based organizations to maintain accountability to the communities we will serve.



A large majority of COPHP students and about half the faculty have completed UIR workshops. Based on this student-driven work, faculty members established the goal of becoming the first anti-racist public health program. We incorporated an anti-racism commitment statement for all syllabi, and our course evaluations now include questions pertaining to classroom climate and inclusivity. Students have continued to facilitate this process by attending faculty meetings, leading discussions, and serving on the admissions committee.



Undoing racism within an MPH program is an iterative process with many institutional barriers. However, this work shows a graduate MPH program can produce an anti-racist workforce dedicated to eradicating disparities and moving our society towards health equity.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Diversity and culture
Public health or related education
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines

Learning Objectives:
Demonstrate the necessity of integrating anti-racist principles into an MPH competencies. Discuss steps students, faculty and staff can take to move an MPH program toward becoming anti-racist. Describe institutional barriers to anti-racism work within the academic setting.

Keyword(s): Social Justice, Public Health Curricula & Competencies

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been a student co-director on the Committee of Oppression, Racism and Education (CORE) which has lead the efforts for our program to become anti-racist.
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.