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The Department of Allied Health Sciences Community Conversations, designed to facilitate conversations with the goal of intentionally and mindfully respecting diversity in our community, has drawn in its largest-ever group of attendees in light of recent activism efforts across the country.

The DAHS Community Conversations were launched by faculty Brenda Mitchell and Melissa Culp more than a year ago as an extension of a University-wide diversity and inclusion initiative. These conversations are held monthly and are designed to promote empathy, understanding, and to listen and learn in a safe environment.

The most recent conversation, titled “I Can’t Breathe,” was held in late June in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It drew faculty, staff, and students from the department, which encompasses seven health sciences professions.

Dozens of attendees completed a follow-up survey following the session. Attendees credited small breakout sessions, guided questions, and listening to co-workers and peers among the most valuable aspects of the exercise.

Previously covered topics include the Confederate monument known as Silent Sam, white privilege, and faculty, staff and student wellness, among others.

The department hopes to hold a Community Conversation in July 2020 to continue this conversation by defining actionable steps community members can take to support diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.

The Department of Allied Health Sciences enrolls more than 400 students annually and is part of the UNC School of Medicine. Brenda Mitchell, PhD, is an associate professor in the Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences.