Dr. Laurel D. Abbruzzese presents at CSM 2022

Headshot of Dr. Laurel Abbruzzese

Dr. Laurel D. Abbruzzese, PT, EdD, FNAP

"Interrogate Your Postionally and (Un)Conscious Biases - Effective Teaching is Antiracist Teaching" 

Dr. Laurel Abbruzzese has been one of our leaders at the forefront in addressing Social Justice at Columbia in the Programs in Physical Therapy. Below you'll hear more about her presentation along with how this journey of self-reflection and personal development began.

In 2020, following the tragic killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd, and the protests that followed, America experienced a racial awakening. Within the Programs in Physical Therapy, we were confronting the impact of systemic racism on healthcare, society, and education and made a more deliberate commitment to address Social Justice. The faculty started a Social Justice Committee and the students started a Social Justice Coalition.  We have each embraced a personal responsibility to work collaboratively to confront injustice, and transform our curriculum and culture in ways that promote inclusion and equitable outcomes. We developed FIERCE (Fostering Inclusive Excellence - addressing Racism & Culture in PT Education) to build capacity within the faculty and students of the Programs in Physical Therapy (PT) to increase our understanding of structural racism and inclusive excellence. We started the FAN Club, FIERCE Alumni Network, in order to engage alums that want to support social justice initiatives and to begin to develop a potential pipeline of diverse PT faculty. A Columbia University Provost seed grant has helped us to consolidate our social justice efforts in order to make them more sustainable.

As a part of this journey of self-reflection and personal development, I have taken a deep dive into Anti-racist pedagogy. I have participated in Anti-racist reading groups and the CUIMC Antiracist Educator Institute. Now I am sharing what I’ve learned with colleagues and peers. At the APTA Combined Sections Meeting (CSM) 2022 in San Antonio, I facilitated a workshop, “Interrogate Your Positionally and (Un)Conscious Biases: Effective Teaching Is Antiracist Teaching.” At the heart of antiracist pedagogy is the understanding that race-based power structures impact all institutions in America, including academic institutions. In order to effectively confront inequities imbedded in our practices and culture, we must reflect on our own identities, privilege and power. Antiracist pedagogy is more than just ensuring that you have diverse representation in your case studies and slide images (although that is important too.) Antiracist pedagogy requires us, as educators, to acknowledge our own biases and challenge students to do the same. It is time to challenge the norms, patterns, structures that hold racism in place.

- Dr. Laurel D. Abbruzzese


Please click the following link to view or download the entire CSM Presentation: