Equity: A Pillar of Public Health
The Cornell Master of Public Health (MPH) Program trains and supports a public health workforce that will advance health equity by reducing disparities based on race, ethnicity, class and geography, including differences between rural and urban settings. The Program opposes racism and discrimination in all forms, which create health disparities for marginalized groups around the world. Our MPH Program is committed to addressing racism and discrimination within our community and profession through teaching, research, community engagement, and policies.
For more information and topics related to public health equity, see reports, fact sheets, and other information on health equity from the American Public Health Association.
Strategies to Promote Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
The first goal of the MPH Program’s guiding statements is to advance equity through public health, with specific objectives to recruit and support a diverse student body, and to recruit and support a diverse Program team. Some of the Program’s active strategies to achieve this goal include:
- Recruiting: Define, monitor and reevaluate recruiting efforts each year, to identify those that promote diverse applicant pools.
- Scholarships: Dedicate at least 10% of possible tuition revenue each year as tuition assistance.
- Reducing barriers: No longer require the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) for admissions.
- Curriculum: Deliver a curriculum that offers tools and dialogue to all students to raise awareness and agency around diversity, equity and inclusion issues.
- Feedback: Provide judgment-free opportunities for students, faculty and staff to provide feedback, both anonymously and in open fora such as Program “town hall” meetings.
- Response: Respond as a Program to feedback, with transparent action and communication.
- Continuing education: Offer and encourage training and workshops for faculty and staff to raise awareness of and dialogue around diversity, equity and inclusion issues, including cultural competence, internationalizing the curriculum, and facilitating health equity discussions.
- Student engagement: Engage students as key stakeholders to shaping, implementing, and evaluating Program culture, curriculum, research, community engagement, and continuing education and events.
- Governance: Establish and sustain a Cornell MPH Antiracism, Antidiscrimination, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ARADDEI) committee and subcommittees, comprised of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community partners.
The MPH Program curriculum is designed around the central tenets of sustainability, equity and engagement. Sustainability itself has issues of equity and cultural competency at its core: environmental sustainability can be thought of as equity across generations, and environmental issues such as climate change and loss of locally-obtained food resources typically affect disadvantaged communities (and countries) disproportionately. The curriculum offers tools and dialogue to students to raise awareness and agency around diversity, equity and inclusion issues throughout the course of study, helping to maintain a culturally competent learning environment and to advance a culturally competent public health workforce.
The College of Veterinary Medicine Summer 2018 Scopes Magazine article “Diversity Rx” featured the MPH Program’s curriculum on page 48:
“The MPH program has cultural competency and social justice baked into the curriculum through courses like the “Public Health Leadership and Ethics” course, and the Public Health Foundations courses, which focus on the social and structural determinants of health, and one health and planetary issues.”
As of Fall 2020, every MPH course instructor has committed to introducing conversations around health equity in the classroom.
Committees: Antiracism, Antidiscrimination, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ARADDEI)
The global call to action against racism has amplified the MPH Program’s commitment to review and revise our curricula, improve the accessibility of our program to people of color, partner with organizations that work toward anti-racism, and promote an environment of diversity and inclusion. Toward this aim and a commitment to meaningful, lasting and sustainable change, in 2020 Cornell MPH faculty, staff and students organized four ARADDEI subcommittees with the following missions:
- Programmatic: Review, evaluate, and advance aspects of the MPH Program including policies, culture, and strategies.
- Curriculum: Infuse anti-racism, anti-discrimination and equity instruction throughout the curriculum and have students broadly consider equity in every public health topic they encounter.
- Engagement and Research: Foster engaged partnerships, student support, and research and evaluation projects focusing on anti-racism, equity, and public health impacts.
- Continuing Education and Events: Facilitate dialogue among faculty, staff, and students, and between our Program and outside partners, to build awareness and tools for addressing structural racism in public health and in our communities.
By the Numbers
The MPH Program defines priority populations as those representing underserved populations, as well as those who are underrepresented in the public health workforce and education. The Program’s priority populations have been defined based on numerous conversations with stakeholders, knowledge of the social determinants of health, knowledge of the composition and needs of the public health workforce, and knowledge of underserved populations in central NY, the United States, and communities around the world. Cornell’s MPH Program thus places special focus for outreach, recruitment, and support for students, on the following underserved and/or underrepresented priority populations, to increase
Program diversity and promote equity in the field of public health:
- Racial and ethnic populations underserved by and underrepresented in many U.S. health systems (including but not limited to Black Americans, Native American and Hispanic/Latinx populations and other marginalized and historically excluded groups in the public health workforce)
- Persons from lower-income or economically disadvantaged households or backgrounds
- First-generation college students
- Military veterans
- Single parents
- Persons with disabilities
- Persons who self-identify as LGBTQIA+
- International students, representative of underserved global communities and including refugee populations
- Rural upstate New York residents, representative of underserved local communities, and to further Cornell’s land-grant mission to “advance the lives and livelihoods of the state’s citizens.”
Get more information on the Cornell Master of Public Health Program.