2021 Grant Recipient: Try Harder, Be Better

Try Harder, Be Better: An Anti-Oppression Program for One Health Professionals

Project Team

Michael Ziccardi, Eunah Preston, Brooke Genovese, Bridgette Smith, Amy Bond

The COVID-19 pandemic, and historic movements such as the climate crisis protests and Black Lives Matter, have ignited an urgent and long overdue call to action to address the inequities in our current global health ecosystem. Dismantling centuries of systemic racism needs integrated, decolonized, and indigenized approaches that draw from a variety of perspectives and communication styles. This project employs a daring mode of engagement that combines interactive workshops with high-level conversations centering and uplifting Black, Indigenous, and People Of Color (BIPOC) voices who are leading the charge of making intersectional global health theories standard practice. Drawing from established experiential learning frameworks, this pilot will help create a workplace that can identify, name, challenge, and ultimately transform the structures that keep white supremacy and discrimination fixed in our institutions at home and abroad.

Project Vision

Our vision is to have more funding and resources allocated to immersive DEI trainings and workshops for University faculty, staff, and students, especially in the post-COVID era. Virtual trainings and informative talks and seminars are a great way to continuing learning in the Anti-Oppression realm, but they can’t replace experiential trainings and workshops.

Background

The Black Lives Matter and #ShutdownSTEM movements coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic have forced people to think about systemic racism and oppression with a health-oriented perspective. The One Health Institute is renowned for scientific leadership in the global health arena, and has projects and programs that operate all over the world; with UCD students, faculty, and staff working directly with local communities. It’s incredibly important that the OHI sets an example for how to internally and intentionally do the work to identify, dismantle, and replace oppressive systems and behaviors in academia and development work. While there has been a surge in information available ranging from decolonizing global health work to identifying microagressions in the workplace, we wanted to create something immersive that not only mirrored the everyday experiences of BIPOC people, but left participants inspired and equipped with the skills to effectively call-out oppressive behaviors and be a better ally.

Findings

One Health is understood to be innately interdisciplinary and collaborative, focusing on issues that impact the human, animal, plant, and environmental sectors. Solutions to these complex global health problems depend on a broad range of backgrounds and expertise working together towards a common goal. Though the One Health dogma has holistic intentions, it fails to acknowledge or address the history of colonialism and systemic racism that impacts vulnerable groups and leads to large scale health inequities. The Try Harder, Be Better seminar series have provided examples of One Health research with the integration of diversity, equity and inclusion for our audience of One Health professionals. Testimonials and preliminary results from the surveys have elaborated that the topics discussed and speakers have been well received and have provided insight to how One Health professionals have been able to integrate DEI into their work. With the esteemed research scientists, projects and programs within the One Health Institute, it is our hope that these seminars will continue to encourage the integration of DEI into existing and new programs.

What's Next?

We have made connections with a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion facilitation organization experienced in working across industries to develop tailored workshops for groups in academia, NGOs, and the private sector. 

The workshop will address DEI using methods that foster critical thinking to build trust and community through role-play, guided reflection, and coming face-to-face with hard truths. With a curriculum customized for the needs of the OHI, this workshop can also be adjusted to address long-term goals of the Institute with the potential for continued partnership with SHIFT (e.g. annual refresher trainings, Institute-wide needs assessments, specialized trainings).