Allies Welcomed to Advance Racial Equity (AWARE) Faculty Seminar Series: Program Design and Implementation

J Med Educ Curric Dev. 2021 Jul 24;8:23821205211034940. doi: 10.1177/23821205211034940. eCollection 2021 Jan-Dec.

Abstract

Introduction: In the wake of George Floyd's murder, White faculty in our department began to express the desire to gain a greater understanding of structural racism and racial inequity. To facilitate this learning, support allyship, and mitigate the emotional labor and taxation that frequently falls on faculty of color to respond to these appeals, we developed AWARE (Allies Welcomed to Advance Racial Equity), a faculty seminar series primarily designed for and led by a majority White faculty to tackle the topics of structural racism, Whiteness, and Anti-racist action.

Methods: We developed a 6-session seminar series, identifying 5 White faculty as lecturers and a cadre of Black and White volunteer facilitators, to lead 60-minute sessions comprised of lecture, facilitated small group reflection, and large group sharing, that reviewed key topics/texts on structural racism, Whiteness, and Anti-racism.

Results: Attendance ranged from 26 to 37 participants at each session. About 80% of faculty participated in at least 1 session of the program. The majority of participants (85%) felt "more empowered to influence their current environment to be more inclusive of others" and were "better equipped to advocate for themselves or others." Most (81%) felt "more connected to their colleagues following completion of the program." Ultimately, faculty thought highly of the program upon completion with 26/27 (96%) stating they would recommend the program to a colleague.

Discussion: We offer a reproducible model to improve departmental climate by engaging in the shared labor of educating our colleagues and communities about structural racism, Whiteness, and Anti-racism to create a point of entry into reflection, dialogue, and deliberate actions for change.

Keywords: Structural racism; education model; racial inequity; seminar.