Nine research projects aim to study, increase diversity
Projects include creating an oral history about Philadelphia's seventh ward
September 22, 2013, 11:56 pm·
In February 2013, the University began accepting applications for its inaugural Excellence through Diversity Fund. Created solely for Penn faculty, those who were interested submitted a proposal for a project they felt would address equity, inclusion and diversity in a specific arena of the Penn community.
Earlier this month, the University announced the winners. There are now nine projects funded by Penn that will tackle a number of issues related to diversity, covering everything from LGBT affairs to the Wharton School.
Of the nine programs, four are directly related to diversity in the medical field and two involve student exposure to business practices. The other projects address LGBT health, careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields and the cultural history of West Philadelphia.
The Daily Pennsylvanian takes a look at four of these projects.
Imagining the African American Nurse: Created by Jean Whelan, a Nursing professor, this program will record the trials and triumphs of African-American registered nurses when Philadelphia was segregated. Whelan and her team are already working with the Mercy-Douglass Hospital and School of Nursing, a historically black institution, to select photographs and other documents for preservation.
They are choosing these documents based on what would be culturally relevant today and what is most in need of preservation. Aiming to eventually create a website from the collected media, Whelan wants to “focus on the role of African American nurses and their contributions to the field today.”
“It is an important collection of photographs because they shed light on how healthcare was distributed to the black population,” Whelan added.
The Alliance of Minority Physicians: Through mentoring programs between individuals in The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Underrepresented Minority Committee of the Division of Gastroenterology, this program aims to create a community between underrepresented medical students and existing faculty. Iris Reyes, professor of clinical emergency medicine, created this project in hopes that the mentoring groups would become “an invaluable resource for junior trainees and students.” This program was included in the Dean of the Medical School’s strategic plan update, released Tuesday as “a program integral to improving diversity at UPHS.”
The Penn Program for LGBT Health: According to Instructor of Medicine Baligh Yehia, “There is a national need for leaders in LGBT health.” This program, created by Yehia, aims to further health education, patient care, research and community outreach and to promote “institutional climate visibility” within the LGBT community at Penn.
Yehia is also organizing a retreat this November with LGBT leaders from several medical institutions, the undergraduate community, faculty members and unaffiliated community leaders to start laying the groundwork for the year ahead. Their tasks include gathering data within the school and the community about specific health concerns for the LGBT community. “Our ultimate goal is to become a local and national leader in LGBT health,” Yehia said.
The Ward — Race and Class in Du Bois’ Seventh Ward: Amy Hillier, professor of city and regional planning, has been working on this project for about five years with different donors. Through the Excellence for Diversity Fund, this program can now use University dollars to hire undergraduate and graduate student assistants. Partnering with Du Bois College House, this program is currently creating an oral history project through student interviews of elderly black members of local churches. As part of this project, Hillier helped develop a board game to teach local high schoolers about what it would have been like to live in the Seventh Ward — an area that is now part of Center City.