BRIDGE One Health: Boosting Representation and Inclusion of Diverse Groups and Experiences in One Health

On April 5, 2021, the One Health Institute announced the four winning projects from the 2021 One Health Integration in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion/Black Lives Matter (BLM) Competitive Grant. Here we take a closer look at the BRIDGE One Health project.

Who is on the Project Team?

David Rizzo, Jonina Balabis, Sara Cisneros, Crystal Diaz, Benjamin Freck, Miriam Garfinkel, Hana Minsky, Amanda Nguyen, Julia Nguyen, Prachi Verma, Kupiri Ackerman-Barger

What is a brief summary of your project?

The Global Perspectives Initiative (GPI) is a student and alumnus collective that aims to uplift the voices of Black, Indigenous, and People Of Color (BIPOC) in One Health courses. From student discussions and preliminary survey results, we identified three under-addressed themes: lived experiences, cultural humility, and community engagement. Through implementing surveys and focus groups and building partnerships with community leaders, this project will bridge gaps between One Health curricula and BIPOC and other minoritized communities’ needs, which will prepare the next generation of anti-racist One Health practitioners.

What motivated you to create this particular project?

Our unique positionalities as a collective, including our identities as One Health scholars, community organizers, and BIPOC, empowered us to recognize gaps in curricula relating to lived experiences, cultural humility, and community-led practices. In undergraduate courses, these topics are often presented as supplemental, but we recognize that having these challenging discussions is integral to achieving equity in One Health interventions. We are inspired by the work of anti-racism, anti-colonialism, trauma-informed and harm reduction practices, ethnic studies, and disability justice scholarship. Drawing upon these frameworks, we seek to create equitable partnerships between students, alumni, faculty, and BIPOC community members to ensure community perspectives are centered in One Health courses.

What is your vision for the future after your pilot project?

Following this funding period, our initiative will continue to serve as a space for students and alumni to share their perspectives on One Health curricula and learning environments. We envision a future where the self-determined needs of BIPOC and other marginalized communities are centered by all One Health initiatives. This vision along with sustainable improvements to inclusivity within our campus culture requires that faculty value and actively pursue equitable partnerships with BIPOC students and community members. The future of equity in One Health also relies on continuous institutional support and engagement.

What is one thing a person can do today to educate themselves and be a strong ally?

We recognize that there is no one task that characterizes strong allyship. Allyship is a continuous and empowering process of learning from and taking actions in solidarity with marginalized communities. As a team, we are continuously critiquing and reflecting on our own practices and allyship. Through these efforts, we have come to recognize the importance of understanding our positionalities. This involves analyzing our identities, privileges, and roles in the context of larger systems and institutions. Only by acknowledging legacies of racism and other forms of oppression within our respective fields can we empower ourselves to take action and pave a way forward. Though there is no prescriptive method for becoming a strong ally, we challenge fellow members of academia to start by listening to the needs of the community.

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