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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives - Gold

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World's First Indigenous Health Ph.D. Program
University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences

Sooyong Kim (left) with Don Warne, MD, MPH, Director of UND’s Public Health and Indians Into Medicine programs
Sooyong Kim (left) with Don Warne, MD, MPH, Director of UND’s Public Health and Indians Into Medicine programs

This entry for the “Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives” category of the GIA Awards for Excellence 2021 summarizes the multimedia campaign around the world’s first doctoral program in Indigenous Health, housed within the public health program at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine & Health Sciences. The submission included original documents and hyperlinks to materials directly related to the 2020 campaign: news releases, website, recruitment video, house-built advertisements and photography, social media posts, and international media coverage of our first-ever program. Beyond documenting that the campaign was a “success” in terms of media coverage, applicant outreach, and social media traffic – which it was, and now includes an article in Health Affairs – we argued that the announcement and promotions surrounding it helped advance diversity/inclusion efforts both on and off campus. In June 2020, for example, UND adopted a “Land Acknowledgement Statement” recognizing the Ojibwe and Dakota Oyate people of the Dakotas and Minnesota. Shortly after UND’s announcement, Grand Forks Public Schools replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day on its school calendar. These events are noted as examples of the broader “halo effect” that diversity and inclusion efforts at a major university in a growing community can have.

Top row: Laura Stutrud, Shawna Schill, David Dodds; Second row: Jan Orvik, Brian Schill, Lisa Martinez; Third row: Zauna Synott, Alexander Kroke, John Lee; Bottom row: Melanie Nadeau, Ashley Evenson, Don Warne (not pictured: Matthew Schill)
Top row: Laura Stutrud, Shawna Schill, David Dodds; Second row: Jan Orvik, Brian Schill, Lisa Martinez; Third row: Zauna Synott, Alexander Kroke, John Lee; Bottom row: Melanie Nadeau, Ashley Evenson, Don Warne (not pictured: Matthew Schill)

What was the most impactful part of your award-winning entry?
Assembling submission materials, and putting them in the context of regional efforts by affinity groups starting or already working on Indigenous issues, helped us recognize just how historic and culturally significant this new program is already – on a global scale.

What is one thing you learned from this experience?
We learned that not only is this type of program – which combines health and history with culture and science – much needed in the West, but that such programs can be sustainable, even influential for institutions daring enough to build them.

What challenge did you overcome?
Resources and COVID-19. The former we lacked; the latter we had in spades. But once the program was approved by the State (surprisingly quickly), our scrappy, literal “in-house” PR team (we were all working from home in 2020) got to work.

Contact

Brian Schill, brian.schill@und.edu

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