Our Commitment to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

The Brown School holds social justice and equity as guiding principles in our work, and these values direct our community’s efforts around diversity and inclusion. Leading in this area is a central feature of the Brown School’s history and mission, and we have achieved significant gains in cultivating a more diverse and inclusive environment.

  • The Brown School is led by a diverse administrative team of assistant and associate deans, including 31 percent people of color, 19 percent LGBTQ people, and 75 percent women.
  • Among our faculty, 30 percent belong to underrepresented minority groups.
  • 25 percent of our students, including masters and PhD candidates, belong to underrepresented minority groups.
  • Yearly staff evaluations now include reflections on each employee’s individual efforts to create a diverse and inclusive environment.
  • In partnership with Crossroads Antiracism Organizing and Training and the city of St. Louis, we have trained more than 50 of our staff and faculty in a deeper analysis of institutional racism and what we can do to address it within our School.
  • We formally recognize the second Monday in October as
    Indigenous Peoples’ Day and we promote spoken Native Land Acknowledgement at the beginning of Brown School events.
  • Vetta L. Sanders Thompson, E. Desmond Lee Professor of Racial and Ethnic Diversity, leads efforts to:
    • Provide communications and resources that raise awareness of the complex equity, diversity and inclusion issues that confront the School and its community partners.
    • Promote education and trainings that build the Brown School capacity to achieve social justice and equity goals.

Yet our work is ongoing. We know there is more to be done. Led by the faculty, staff and students elected to the Brown School Committee for Equity, Diversity & Inclusion, we are pursuing a number of goals and initiatives to make our School a model for effective diversity and inclusion policies and practices.

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 and oppressing others. As a community, we work to address the detrimental effects of this history through our teaching, practice, research and service. Moreover, we are vigilant to advance the voices and needs of the marginalized, given the existing power differentials within our community and in the larger society.

To learn more about the many diversity-related programs, events and resources at Washington University, please visit diversity.wustl.edu.

We are dedicated to creating a more inclusive and dynamic community.


The Brown School offers many opportunities for students to engage and connect through affinity groups.

Students benefit from School-led resources such as Ujamaa, Nuestra Familia, and Global Table, our initiatives that serve our African-American, Latinx, and global students, respectively, by offering mentorship and support

Some of our identity-based student-led groups include the Black Student Union, International Student Association, Sexuality & Gender Alliance, and American Indian Student Association. Students are also welcome to create new groups with the support of our Student Services team. See a full list of groups now active on campus.


Throughout the year we host events, lectures, panels and discussions related to diversity and racial justice. Some annual campus events include:

Brown School Cultural Showcase: Each spring this student-led event highlights the diversity, cultures and talent of the Brown School student body through presentations, song, dance and food.

Day of Discovery & Dialogue: This annual university-wide event brings the WashU community together to further the conversation on diversity and inclusion. The day features a keynote address; moderated panels; student, faculty and staff stories; and other thought-provoking events.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration: This university-wide annual event honors the legacy of Dr. King and the impact he has made on those who carry the torch for humanity. The Brown School also offers complementary programming on issues of oppression and racial equity.

Professional Development: Our Professional Development program, which offers trainings for graduate students and practitioners in the community, includes sessions each semester on culturally competent social work practice, strategies to mitigate bias in hiring, and more.

The Brown School Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion also sends out regular communications to students, staff and faculty about events and opportunities in the St. Louis area to engage on a variety of issues of importance. On campus and off, the Brown School community regularly raises our voice to participate in rallies, marches, lectures and community forums on key issues of social justice and racial equity.



Cultural Competence for Students

During the annual first-year orientation, students participate in a series of workshops called “Building a Safe and Inclusive Community,” which highlight issues such as microaggressions and implicit bias, and provide training for allyship and bystander intervention. Many students also enroll in “Social Justice and Human Diversity,” which is a required course for all MSW students.


100 Employees Safe-Zone Trained

You will see the rainbow logo of Washington University Safe Zones displayed outside of many Brown School offices and workspaces. These prominent placards indicate that the employee has been through Safe Zone training, meaning that they are open to talking to and being supportive of any LGBTQ person who works at, learns at, or visits our campus.


Ujamaa: Strengthening Community Ties

As the Brown School prepares its graduate students to take on challenging professional careers in social work and public health, we also strive to cultivate their personal growth and well-being. Ujamaa, the Kiswahili word for familyhood, is a new program to help facilitate a successful experience in a supportive environment for students who identify as African American.