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Brown School Commitment To Diversity

The Brown School recognizes the complexity of diversity and inclusion and affirms the many perspectives that are held by our community.  In line with the stated values of social work and public health professions, we hold social justice and equity as guiding principles in our quest for diversity and inclusion at the Brown School. At a minimum, we believe that any definition of diversity must include the following considerations:
  1. Diversity as a fact.  One need only consider the tremendous biodiversity of the natural world to appreciate the vast variety of life, including human beings.  Diversity is not something that we humans manufacture, but it is something that we must work to appreciate, foster and safeguard.

  2. Diversity and inclusion as verbs.  Because diversity must be appreciated and fostered, we consider inclusion to be a conscious activity that must inform all of the work that we do.  We also appreciate what diversity and inclusion allow us to do, as it enriches our teaching, research, and service to the world.

  3. Diversity and inclusion as historically situated.  We recognize that our work to respect diversity and to include all in our community has roots in a history that has privileged certain groups while excluding others.  We also recognize the present-day legacy of this history and work to address its detrimental effects through our teaching, practice, research, and service.

  4. Diversity and inclusion as a reflection of power.  The relative power afforded to individuals and groups within our community and in the larger society makes us vigilant to advance the voices and needs of the marginalized.  We seek to use our power wisely to ensure that our School takes full advantage of all its members' talents and perspectives.

Definition crafted and approved by the Brown School Diversity Committee, 2013.

Brown School Diversity Committee:
Leading in diversity and inclusion is a central feature of the Brown School’s history, mission, and role on the Washington University campus, in the St. Louis community, and around the world. The Brown School created a standing committee charged with serving as a means for improving the School’s culture and climate for diversity and making diversity and inclusion on-going commitments at the Brown School. Goals and initiatives include:

  • Inclusive recruitment, hiring, retention, and advancement practices
  • Increased diversity among faculty, administrators and staff, and the student body at the Brown School
  • Institutionalized diversity training and resources for Brown School leadership
  • Connection of diversity and inclusion commitment to the St. Louis community
  • Development as a model for effective diversity and inclusion policies and practices
The Brown School Diversity Committee is comprised of faculty, staff, and students elected to serve this important role. 
​​​Jason Purnell​, Assistant Professor
Vanessa Fabbre​, Assistant Professor
Molly Metzger​, Assistant Professor
Anna Shabsin​, Senior Lecturer
David Patterson​, Assistant Professor
Sarah Gehlert​, E. Desmond Lee Professor of Racial and Ethnic Diversity
Li Zou​, International Director, Center for Social Development 
Samuel Taylor, Project Manager
Danielle Bristow, Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs
Ericka Lewis – Doctoral Student
MPH Vacancy
Rachel Sacks - MSW
Mary M. McKay​, Dean and Professor 
Tonya Edmond​, Associate Dean for Diversity
Paige Riegel, Manager of Human Resources
Liz Valli-Hall, Coordinator of Administration
Cultural Competence Requirements for Brown School Students:
The Brown School nurtures a spirit of diversity upon students’ first arrival to the graduate program. During the annual first-year orientation, students participate in a required Cultural Competence workshop that allows them to share mutual understanding of the values and principles of diversity, engage in activities and scenarios that strengthen their perspectives and responses amongst diverse communities, and foster dialogue upon diversity and social justice topics. This orientation is followed up with the course, Human Diversity and Social Justice, which all students are required to take prior to graduation. 

Culture and Diversity in Student Groups:
The list below includes a sampling of the many student groups at the Brown School that allow students to share an affinity with peers based on their interests in various cultures.
  • American Indian Student Association (AISA)
  • International Student Association (ISA)
  • Brown School African Students Association (BSASA)
  • Committee for Immigrant and Refugee Issues (CIRI)
  • Society of Black Students for Social Welfare (SBSSW)
  • Aging in Graduate Education (AGE)
  • Women in Leadership (WIL)
The MOSAIC Project:
The Mosaic Project supports Washington University’s ongoing commitment to strengthen diversity, foster inclusion and promote social justice in all aspects of the student experience. It seeks to facilitate dialogue, support the ongoing work of existing campus diversity efforts and develop new initiatives to cultivate a community that furthers our goal of making all Washington University members feel welcome and supported. Learn more:
WUSTL Diversity Resources:
“Enhancing diversity and inclusiveness for faculty, staff and students at Washington University in St. Louis is a top priority.”  — Chancellor Mark Wrighton. To learn more about additional diversity-related programs, events and resources at Washington University in St. Louis, visit


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