Changing the World 101: Social Policy and Management through the Lens of Equity

Brielle Ruscitti, MS GHPM/MA SID '24

October 19, 2023

Brielle RuscittiDuring my first year at Heller, I was part of the first Social Policy and Management through the Lens of Equity course, taught by Alexandra Pineros Shields. This discussion-based course covered a range of topics related to equity, inclusion, and the history of critical topics such as racial justice. This course was a great way to get to know students from other programs and have a break from the more data heavy M.S. program courses. Unlike some of the other M.S. courses, students are often up and moving around the classroom, sharing ideas, and engaged in varying group discussions. This course is now considered a requirement of the M.S. program and one I would take again.

The course also focuses in on materials and subjects I would not otherwise get to interact with. One of my favorite readings from the class was the Canary in the Coal Mine. This piece draws on the metaphor of a canary in the mine acting as a signal for miners to leave when the mine becomes dangerous. The canary is representative of people in society that are from diverse backgrounds, have less access to resources and face inequities. However, the canary can be extrapolated to think about other situations where inequalities are faced. This help me see connections between some of the traditional examples of injustices and how I could connect to my own working experiences in healthcare. I highly suggest reading this text if you are looking for your next read.

As one of the inaugural courses, my course final project was to reflect on the course itself and provide suggestions for how the course could improve for future semesters. This was a great opportunity to think critically about what I had learned in the course, what I would have liked to see and hopefully improve the course for future students as well.

One recommendation I will share from my time in the course, is that the materials are often very U.S. based or rely on U.S. context, so as part of a global program, there are some students who may have less experience on these topics. However, there were a number of international students in my class who brought in their own experiences related to these issues and uniquely contributed to the conversation with diverse contributions. If you are a current or prospective student, I highly recommend checking out this course, it does not disappoint!