Eye on Education

First of its Kind Special Board Workshop on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Well Attended

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First of its Kind Special Board Workshop on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Well Attended

On Thursday, March 5th the ASCO Board of Directors, chief academic officers and staff attended a workshop by Drs. Gary Chu and Ruth Shoge on the merits of diversity, equity, and inclusion in an optometric academic setting. 

The workshop began with a visualization exercise, asking participants to close their eyes and image a scene described by Dr. Shoge. They were asked to consider who they saw in their visualization, which began a discussion on how our brains subconsciously construct our world and how this can lead to bias. 

Dr. Chu presented data that represented the changing demographics of the country and the profession of optometry. Participants were then asked to reflect on their own identity – how they view themselves, how they think others view them, and what part(s) of their identity has worked to their advantage or disadvantage.

Through these exercises, participants were able to define diversity, equity, and inclusion, discuss current recruitment and hiring practices, and examine how the missions of their institutions and curricula were providing this information to their students, faculty, staff, and administrators. 

Participants had the opportunity to work through some cases; real-life scenarios shared by the presenters about a variety of topics they or their students have encountered – feeling different or “othered” by students or faculty, being discriminated against by patients in clinic, accessibility issues following an injury, and sensitivity to gender expression. Participants discussed their take on the scenarios and ways these situations could be effectively managed. Finally, the presenters discussed strategies for inclusive teaching as outlined by Columbia University’s Guide to Inclusive Teaching that included establishing a teaching environment that fosters belonging, selecting course content that recognizes diversity, and designing all course content for accessibility.  

Through the workshop participants took what should be considered a first step in enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusion at their institutions. Next steps include continuing the conversation and identifying champions at their institutions to carry out the vision of having a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable campus community. The upcoming DEI symposium at Academy 2020 was introduced to the participants and they were encouraged to tell their faculty and support their attendance at the event.


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