2 OR public universities award $500,000 to advance social justice in medicine through poetry, community outreach

The OHSU-PSU School of Public Health announced a $500,000 fellowship program to fund five proposals relating to antiracism, social justice, and healthcare.

Funded proposals include community outreach projects for 'gender minority health' and a critical theory-based art portfolio promoting health equity.

The School of Public Health (SPH), a shared school between Portland State and Oregon Health and Science University, recently announced five proposals to receive funding under its new $500,000 Anti-Racism Faculty Fellowship program

The fellowship program is part of the SPH’s broader anti-racism focus, which has included the creation of an Associate Dean for Social Justice position and monthly forums on topics from climate change to racism. Fellowships are funded by the SPH’s Philanthropic Advisory Board and will be awarded over the next three years.

As outlined in the June 3 announcement, funded proposals include community outreach for “gender minority health” by a transgender faculty, research on an “antiracist and inclusive biostatistics curriculum,” exploring new methods of analyzing ethnic inequity in childbirth, and expanding Asian-American & Pacific Islander Studies. 

One proposal doesn’t center on health at all, but instead on art. Drawing on Critical Race Theory and black feminist theory, Dr. Ryan Petteway will be awarded funds to develop a portfolio of three projects—using Youth-led Participatory Action Research, visual art, music, and poetry—that create “counternarratives to traditional health equity.” 

Petteway’s proposal includes a Public Health Poetry project, which will feature “a series of youth poetry competitions related, broadly, to health equity and community health.”

[RELATED: New course will teach UNH students about ‘racism in science’]

In a Facebook post for its April webinar featuring Dr. Ryan Petteway, Oregon Health & Science University wrote that poetry is “a necessary format of scholarly discourse of health equity and social justice” because “public health is built upon the bodies of the oppressed.” 

“The Faculty Fellowship program is one of several ways in which we can advance public health with our antiracism initiative,” SPH Dean David Bangsberg said, per the press release. “By providing these resources we will enable faculty to develop, implement, and extend antiracism efforts within the school of public health and beyond, with their scholarship, pedagogy, and service.”

Dawn Richardson, the Dean of Social Justice for SPH, noted that the burden of social justice often falls on “historically marginalized and oppressed groups.” She sees the new fellowship as a way to “re-distribute resources” and fix the “inequity in labor.”

[RELATED: Tulane hosts anti-racism teach-in with profs divided by race]

On top of the new fellowship program, a current job listing reveals SPH is seeking a faculty member for the Fall 2021 term who can teach on “community organizing, intersectionality and social justice.” The new instructor will be provided a salary of up to $58,599. 

Campus Reform reached out to the OSHU-PSU School of Public Health, but it declined to provide additional comment.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @katesrichardson