Mission, Philosophy, and Solidarity Statement
Our mission is, first, to produce outstanding occupational therapists and occupational scientists, and second, to develop and expand knowledge about occupation and translate that knowledge to various therapeutic arenas. We accomplish this mission through enactment of our core values:
- the fundamental worth of occupation and its exploration
- critical engagement with ideas and the world
- embracing diversity and community
These values perpetuate an evolution of creative and committed pedagogy focused on occupation.
This mission is also consistent with the UNC School of Medicine’s focus on excellence in the education of health care professionals. Through an innovative curriculum, as well as research and its translation to applied settings, graduates from our program are prepared to lead and assist citizens of North Carolina and beyond.
Our philosophy emphasizes the complex and holistic nature of human experience as a fundamental way to understand occupation. Occupation is the way in which people and their environments interact. Meaning, values, and emotional experience are also part of occupation and come from the ways in which the activity creates new relationships or sustains existing ones. In addition, occupations may become “patterned;” that is, become habits, routines, or rituals that are part of everyday life. These patterns of occupation are often linked to personal, cultural, social, and other contextual aspects of one’s life.
The mission of the UNC Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy is to produce outstanding occupational therapists and occupational scientists, and to develop and expand knowledge about occupation as an enactment of our core values, including embracing diversity and community. Similarly, our philosophical perspective highlights human experience as complex and inseparable from participation in occupations in real-world contexts. With these core values and philosophies, we recognize that there exist significant inequities and injustices that characterize the life experiences and participation of many who identify as members of marginalized, stigmatized, and/or disenfranchised groups. Therefore, we must respond in both words and action.
As our country struggles with the tragedies and trauma that stem from centuries of racism and discrimination and continue into the present, we cannot and will not stay silent. The countless deaths, violence, and forms of oppression experienced by racially minoritized individuals and groups, immigrants, the LGBTQ community, disabled people, religious minorities, and others are unjust and unacceptable. We express our deepest sorrow and frustration with both recent and historical incidents of violence and stand firm in our belief that those responsible should be held accountable for their actions.
As occupational therapists and occupational scientists, we stand for justice, equity, and the right of all humans to participate in their choice of life and health affirming occupations. It is our ethical obligation to uphold and enact the seven Core Values of the OT profession: Altruism, Equality, Freedom, Justice, Dignity, Truth, and Prudence (AOTA, 1993). We believe a person’s skin color, age, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background, citizenship status, religious views, abilities, and other aspects of diversity should never limit their ability to engage in the everyday routines and occupations they find meaningful in the context of associated living, and which are enacted with respect for the rights and well-being of others. Rather, this diversity should be respected, valued, and celebrated to promote meaningful engagement in occupation.
We recognize that statements of solidarity are insufficient. We also must do the work. Therefore, we commit first and foremost to holding ourselves accountable by examining our own biases and contributions to systemic racism and inequities within our Division, our university, and our profession. We commit to ongoing anti-racist and anti-discrimination work among our faculty, in our classrooms, locally, nationally, and globally through the content and processes of our curricula, social and societal engagement, and provision of learning opportunities for faculty, students, and our professional colleagues. We also commit to ongoing action and reflection to prepare faculty, students, and our colleagues to catalyze change in response to injustice.
We invite other occupational scientists, practitioners, academic programs, and organizations to join us in this endeavor. We can ignite change by standing together in solidarity with those who experience racism, injustices, and inequities, and work collaboratively to move forward.