At Duke Global Health Institute, we believe diversity is a catalyst for new ideas and creativity. It is the nature of global health that we derive strength from our different perspectives, disciplines and personal backgrounds. For these reasons, diversity and inclusion are among the core values of the DGHI community, and we are steadfastly committed to fostering these values within our community.
“The goal for DGHI is to be a space where everybody belongs. In that belonging people are able to bring their authentic selves into the work that’s being done here. And, it’s imperative that they feel safe doing it — psychologically, physically and emotionally safe,” says Kimberly McNeil, Diversity & Inclusion Director at DGHI, and Associate Director for the Center for Health Policy & Inequalities Research.
McNeil says that organizational equity and belonging can be achieved through four key actions: Embrace, engage, examine and embed.
Embrace… the significance and impact of diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging.
Engage… faculty, staff and students in learning opportunities, solidifying common language related to diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging.
Examine… current policies and procedures to develop an institutional culture of inclusivity, belonging and equity.
Embed… diverse practices in all aspects of daily work, yielding accountability and a sustainable culture of equity and inclusivity.
“If your community feels like they belong and the work they are doing is equitable, then you’re going to attract global health partners that will do the same,” McNeil says.
Equity and Inclusion Timeline at DGHI
As the Equity Task Force, we are posting this timeline to offer a reflection on where we started, the challenges we’ve faced, and to recognize the contributions of DGHI community members who have worked over time to address and strengthen DGHI’s diversity, inclusion, and equity.
- 2006: DGHI founded
- 2013: Committee led by Dr. Dennis Clements (Members: Tammy Sorrell, David Boyd, Heather Tunnell, and Kimberly McNeil) responded to School of Medicine’s diversity activities metrics in 2013.
- 2017: DGHI Diversity and Inclusion Committee formally created. Kimberly McNeil, one of the original members of the 2013 committee, served with Dr. Sara LeGrand as co-chairpersons.
- 2018: Under the leadership of Dr. Chris Plowe, Dr. Kate Whetten was appointed as the Associate Director for Community and Culture in concerted effort to change the institutional culture towards greater inclusivity and equity. Kimberly McNeil served initially as the coordinator of Diversity and Inclusion, and later as the director.
- 2018: Vivien Needham served as chairperson of the Community Connect committee.
- 2019: Integration of all efforts into the Community, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee which initiated efforts to address structural inequities and increase inclusivity:
- Institution wide workshops
- Listening sessions,
- Panels and speaker series
- Social integration events to decrease silos and social hierarchies, and increase a sense of belonging amongst faculty, staff, and students.
Our students and alumni have been a critical force in advocating for and energizing equity initiatives.
- 2018: a student-led Duke Decolonize Working Group was initiated and focused attention on the colonial aspects of global health and provided recommendations to the institute on ways to improve policies, practices, and curriculum. The Duke Decolonize working group was founded by three MSc-GH students Yadurshini Raveendran, Laura Mkumba, and Andrea Koris, and is currently led by Cordelia Kenney and Ali Murad Büyüm.
- 2020: Duke GH alumni and current students advocated a call to action for DGHI to look closely at its policies and practices especially in the context of the global push to address anti-Black racism. This was communicated in a letterwritten by alumna Melissa Manus and co-signed by Asma Mirza, Sreeja Kalapurakkel, Hiwot Zewdie, Paige O’Leary, and Tra Tran.
- 2020: the current Equity Task Force was formed based on a suggestion by Shashika Bandara, an alumnus and former staff member of DGHI, to combine all of the above efforts of the DGHI community members. The suggestion was made to the Interim DGHI Director Dennis Clements.