Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity, Justice, and Anti-Racism

In the Programs in Occupational Therapy at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, we believe that training occupational therapists who are future agents of change in the profession requires the highest commitment to diversity, equity, inclusivity, justice, and anti-racism. 

We believe that striving for diversity, equity, inclusivity, justice, and anti-racism is a lifelong and continuous process. Therefore, we commit to:

On-Going Professional Development

  • CU OT faculty, staff, and students are participating in continuous professional development training.

Aligning Our Mission and Vision With DEI and Anti-Racism Principles and Threading This in Our Curriculum, Courses, and Pedagogy

  • We are revising our Mission and Vision statements and added a curriculum thread on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
  • Courses are being revised to be more inclusive and informed by the key principle of race as a social construct and a social determinant of health.
  • We are training faculty that Anti-Racism is not an add-on to a course.  Anti-Racism is a pedagogy - a manner of teaching, designing courses, and measuring learning outcomes.
  • We make sure that the classroom is an inclusive space.  We acknowledge that “classroom ruptures” may occur – a disorienting dilemma or situation when an implicit bias or microagression may occur. We are committed to providing space for respectful conversation and ensuring that we address these classroom ruptures and provide opportunities for professional development, learning, and growth. Racist actions and remarks are never tolerated at Columbia University and will be dealt with following confidential reporting and established protocols.

Valuing and Celebrating Intersectionality and Diversity

  • We are constantly revising and evaluating our admissions process to recruit, retain, and celebrate diversity in our student body. A part of this initiative is launching our CU OT Student Diversity Scholarship in 2020.
  • It is imperative for us to recruit, mentor, promote, and celebrate diversity in our faculty and staff.
  • We are providing opportunities for students and staff to let us know how they would like to be addressed by pronouns and how to properly pronounce their names.  We also however acknowledge that explicit pronoun use may also be triggering and difficult for some faculty, staff, and students.

We believe that being part of a community and taking leadership roles and collective action are important steps in creating a more inclusive and anti-racist culture.  Therefore, we are committed in sustaining and strengthening DEI and anti-racism efforts through our involvement and leadership in the following:

  • CUOT Programs Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity Committee.
  • A student-led chapter of the Coalition for Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity (COTAD).
  • The Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA)
  • Faculty leadership role in the DEI Task force and sub-committee of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)
  • Faculty leadership role in the Anti-Racist Education Institute and community of practice at CUIMC,  as well as the Anti-Racism Coalition and the grant-funded VP&S Anti-Racist Transformation in Medical Education program in the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.
  • Faculty leading initiatives and co-authorships of AOTA official documents related to DEI and cultural humility.

Our commitment to DEI and Anti-Racism are guided by important strategies and aligned with our national professional association and Columbia University efforts: