President and CEO's Blog

By Daniel Gentry, PhD, MHA posted 11-30-2022 15:42

Toward a More Socially Just AUPHA, Academy, Health Industry, and Society

As we approach the myriad of holidays many of us celebrate over the next few months, I have been thinking about gratitude and how fortunate I am, most of us are, with regard to our careers, our lives. That’s clearly not the case for so many of our fellow human beings, in North America and around the world. The gap between the “haves” and the continuing - and in some places growing - numbers of “have nots” is overwhelming and widening. This is unjust. Plain and simple from my personal perspective.

You may have noticed over the past two years, whenever AUPHA communicates about DEIB, we often add “& Social Justice.” But only when appropriate. Why and what does that mean for AUPHA, our field, and society? There are many frameworks to think about and operationalize social justice. Across most of the ones I’ve been reading about and utilizing are the elements of access, equity, diversity, participation, and human rights. Who among us would argue that any of these elements, values, and goals aren’t critically important both with regard to what we hope to achieve (outcomes; terminal values), how we get there (process, the “how,” instrumental values), and how we work together.

Frameworks are so very helpful. We all know that for our students, regardless of whether we are focused on the undergraduate, masters, or doctoral level. Like a good strategic plan, frameworks allow us to be more intentional, more transparent, and to communicate with each other using a common language and understanding.

We should approach social justice similarly to the way the AUPHA Board has strongly endorsed governance and management that treats DEIB plans, initiatives, and intended outcomes not as focused OR dispersed/integrated, but as both. For DEIB, an example of this is the new, soon to be released AUPHA Body of Knowledge (BOK). Yes, DEIB now appears separately as its own domain.. AND important factors and issues related to DEIB are dispersed across the entire BOK, integrated into almost half of the other 25 domains. This is only one example. DEIB has a strong emphasis in AUPHA’s new Biennial Environmental Scan & Trends Report that was released this past January; the AUPHA Art of Teaching Institute (ATI) to be launched early next year; the AUPHA Leadership Academy (LA) to be launched in late 2023; and in improvements and enhancements for AUPHA governance and management.

There is clearly overlap between DEIB and Social Justice (SJ) frameworks, concepts, and operational elements. However, there are differences too - the issues of access, participation, and human rights. Realizing true SJ isn’t possible without DEIB. AUPHA’s intentional, planned, and tactical work (by the Board, the Board’s Diversity with Inclusion Committee, the AUPHA Cultural Perspectives and Inclusive Excellence Faculty Forum, and our members) on DEIB over the past several years is paying off, getting us good results. There is so much more work to do. The work so far provides us with the foundation to also be more purposeful in our SJ work. And like DEIB, this work should be both focused AND integrated into everything AUPHA does.

I hope you’re all as enthusiastic and committed to this important work as I am, our staff is, and the AUPHA Board is. One very easy way to “charge your own engines” for the work ahead of us is to join us for one of our last webinars of the fall 2022 semester. On Wednesday, December 7, 2:00-3:00 pm Eastern, the Diversity with Inclusion Committee of the AUPHA Board (made up of both Board members and other AUPHA members) will host a webinar that provides a comprehensive overview of AUPHA’s major programs, new initiatives, and other activities focused on DEIB.

I wish all of you a very successful conclusion to the fall 2022 semester, joyful and safe holidays, and a very happy and healthy New Year.