The Understanding Systemic Racism (USR) curriculum was created and is led by a diverse, multidisciplinary, interprofessional team anchored within the WUSM Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, with intentional overlap with the key designers of the medical school’s Gateway Curriculum. That team has spent over a year developing and piloting an intensive curriculum requiring in-depth discussion and personal reflection, with tracks tailored by roles (managerial/leadership, clinical faculty & staff, clinical trainees, research and basic sciences, and non-clinical staff).

The Executive Faculty further pledged time and support for department-level Equity Champions (both faculty and staff) to help tailor and teach the USR curriculum, again embedding this work into each department to ensure longitudinal change.

Below are general objectives for the curriculum.

Learners will:

  • Utilize a shared language for the work of anti-racism, inclusion, equity and diversity.
  • Develop a greater understanding of individual, institutional, and structural racism.
  • Understand both historical and present-day structural racism specific to St. Louis and its impact on the healthcare system, medical education, research and institutional climate/culture.
  • Reflect on individual identity and our socialization processes and their impact on behavior.
  • Practice strategies for reducing and managing bias in education, leadership, patient care, research and interprofessional relationships.
  • Learn how to speak up when witnessing or experiencing racism and bias in the workplace.
  • Apply a racial equity lens to decision-making, policy, standards of practice.
  • Problem solve to address identified inequities at the institutional, departmental, division or team level and apply acquired knowledge to implement longitudinal change.

Common questions:

Does the Understanding Systemic Racism replace Diversity 1.0 – 4.0 training modules?

No. The Diversity 1.0 – 4.0 sequence of courses is focused on basic presentation of core concepts related to diversity, equity and inclusion across campus. That introductory sequence (or its equivalent) is considered a prerequisite for the majority of a department or division to have completed before embarking on the Understanding Systemic Racism curriculum. The Understanding Systemic Racism curriculum is a deeper dive into the origins and lasting impacts of systemic, structural, institutional, and individual anti-Black racism, and builds on those foundational concepts.

Can I participate in the USR curriculum if I am not part of the Equity Champions program?

Yes! Although the USR curriculum is a core part of the Equity Champions program, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion welcomes all individuals with a strong interest in anti-racism and equity work to participate in the USR curriculum to become vocal upstanders for change within their work environments. Open sessions of the USR curriculum (which will require registration) will be offered starting in Spring 2022 for any interested individuals.

How will campuswide implementation move forward?

The Understanding Systemic Racism curriculum will be implemented in a staged rollout over several years. The USR team will determine the scheduling of departments/divisions to participate in the first round of training based on key factors including:

  • Readiness: Where is the department/division at on their diversity, equity and inclusion journey?
  • Impact: In what specialties do the most significant/persistent health disparities exist? What departments are working to address issues of retention for students, trainees, staff and faculty?
  • Access: Willingness to roll out Understanding Systemic Racism to all areas of the department, and all tracks simultaneously, including staff, trainees, faculty, management, and research/basic sciences.

How can I ready my department or division for training?

We welcome enthusiastic department and division leadership to contact the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion staff to discuss readiness for the Understanding Systemic Racism curriculum. In addition to gauging where individual departments/divisions stand, our staff can provide recommendations and an action plan to move towards readiness for the Understanding Systemic Racism curriculum.