Posted on December 2, 2021

UNC School of Medicine’s Quiet “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” Revolution

John Sailer, James G. Martin Center, November 22, 2021

In May, the UNC School of Medicine revised its Guidelines for Appointment, Reappointment, and Promotion. Now, faculty seeking promotion must tout their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. One sample DEI statement, posted on the School of Medicine website, shows what that requirement might entail, concluding with a nod to the concept of intersectionality.

As I move forward in my career, I intend to continue to include issues of equity and inclusion in my bedside teaching. I commit to annually attending a seminar offered by the University Office of Diversity and Inclusion to learn more about the intersectionality of race, gender, and sexual orientation in clinical care and medical education, and to confront my own biases and the biases of our medical culture to improve inclusivity in my environment.

These revisions mark an innovation in DEI policy—a step beyond the now-common DEI statements for admissions and hiring. But they make up only one small part of a much larger overhaul taking place at the UNC School of Medicine.

In June of 2020, the School of Medicine created a “Task Force to Integrate Social Justice into the Curriculum.” As the title suggests, its purpose is to make social justice an omnipresent feature of the School of Medicine. It was charged with making recommendations regarding faculty development, curricula, and the general learning environment. The Task Force delivered its Final Report in October of 2020. The report lists and elaborates on 42 recommendations. These include requiring students to engage in political advocacy, integrating a list of social justice concepts into teaching, creating a mandatory social justice curriculum, and overhauling the school’s approach to assessment.

Faculty must go along or imperil their careers.


Hence the new promotion and tenure guidelines. One recommendation reads: “Revise Promotion and Tenure Guidelines to include a social justice domain required for promotion.” Now, two of the five requirements for promotion and tenure are “Positive contribution to DEI efforts” and “Teaching, Research, and DEI statements.” An appendix suggests over a dozen examples of DEI activities that would constitute a positive contribution. These include:

Application of material learned in DEI trainings (e.g. Safe Zone, Unconscious Bias, Implicit Bias, etc.) to promote an environment of cultural awareness, knowledge, and sensitivity.

Performing DEI or social justice-focused lectures to students, residents, or peers.

Leading a discussion or professional development activity on DEI topics.

Participating in local postgraduate or continuing medical education DEI courses.

Preparing DEI or social justice curriculum materials.


The Task Force also mandates injecting politicized concepts directly into courses. The report calls for all “block directors and course directors” to change their curricula to adhere to certain “core concepts.” It goes on to name those concepts, many of which bear no relation to medicine:

all lectures addressing known health disparities will attend to those disparities and WHY they exist

each lecture should have a “structural context” section, in addition to basic science and clinical material

explain the difference between sex and gender and how specific organs and cells do not belong to specific genders

explicitly include anti-racism content during lectures and small group discussions

use inclusive LGBTQI+ language


The Task Force exerts similar pressure on students—calling for mandatory social justice advocacy. {snip}