Advancing DEI with Intention, Commitment and Collective Action



What does it take to cultivate a community climate that is brave, welcoming, and equitable? At Bastyr, we believe that it takes intention, commitment, and collective action. Agreeing on shared values and norms, learning how to engage in inclusive discourse, and breaking down structural barriers to equity is a complex process – one that requires willingness and willpower to engage from each person in the community, and an overarching strategy founded on a vision of the community we aspire to be.

That is why Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives at Bastyr University are guided by a Strategic Framework founded on the principle that DEI work is everyone’s responsibility. The framework, adopted this spring, drives collaboration and actions across the university around four focus areas: Access and Success; Culture and Climate; Community Partnerships; and Equity Research.

Working on Access and Success for students is critical in that it involves ensuring a robust and equitable educational experience for students – especially for those from historically marginalized communities. Designing programs and policies that acknowledge the structural inequities that impact our students ensures that we provide ladders to success that work to meet their nuanced needs.

Cultivating an equitable and inclusive Culture and Climate is another essential focus of our DEI work. Achieving social justice, recognizing and dismantling inequities, and decolonizing our minds involves a process of learning and unlearning what we know and developing the skills and confidence to engage in this exercise. Understanding this, the Office of DEI launched this November a required Competency Development Program for all faculty and staff, which involves a foundational course on confronting bias; a two-part “DEI Toolkit” series on core DEI concepts and dialogue skills; and a continuing education component during the employee’s time at Bastyr. Students will also have a DEI workshop as part of their new student orientation and will have access to education opportunities through their curriculum or the Center for Social Justice and Diversity.

Building relationships with the wider community is also important for Bastyr as we look towards advancing collective health and wellbeing, especially among historically and currently marginalized groups. Focusing on Community Partnerships means that Bastyr will intentionally develop genuine and meaningful partnerships with BIPOC and LGBTQ+ groups, non-profits, and government agencies as we advance this mission.

Finally, as an academic institution, advancing research and knowledge production in the natural health arts and sciences around equity and inclusion in healthcare is a must. Through the Equity Research focus area, we will support faculty and student research within academic programs, and through the Center for Social Justice and Diversity. As we aspire to be the leading global academic center in the natural health sciences, we intend to do so with a view to addressing health inequities and achieving justice through our practice.

Capacity-building, cultural and normative shifts, and structural change all take time; and the goal is for such initiatives guided by this framework to take us to a more inclusive and equitable place as a community.