Public health prides itself – and justifiably so – as among the most diverse professions in the world. Throughout our history, we have sought to engage members of diverse communities in our work, our research, and our policy making initiatives. As one of the nation’s top-ranked schools of public health, the Mailman School has worked diligently to recruit a student body, faculty, and staff that reflect the racial, ethnic, social, economic, and cultural diversity of the United States and of the international communities that have been the focus of much of our scholarship and service. We include in our ranks students, staff, and faculty from every walk of life, from more than 35 nations, from able and disabled backgrounds, and from diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities. We are committed to creating an environment that supports success for people of all backgrounds.

The Mailman School of Public Health has also been in the forefront of research and programming to examine and resolve disparities in health and in healthcare wherever they exist. Our efforts to serve underrepresented minority groups in the U.S. have led us to create a number of programs that have gained national and international prominence. We have been especially dedicated to building a pipeline that leads students from the undergraduate years to careers at the doctoral and post-doctoral levels of study. We recognize that our students are endowed with particular intellectual and cultural abilities that we are committed to recognize, strengthen and expand. 

Programs Across the Educational Pipeline

The educational pipeline in the U.S. extends from the earliest years of schooling to the completion of a terminal graduate degrees and postdoctoral training. Since the 1960s, leading institutions of higher education in the nation have been committed to assuring that this pipeline is as inclusive as possible. The Mailman School has been at the forefront of such efforts, with programs and initiatives directed at undergraduates, master’s and doctoral students, and junior faculty. Included in these efforts are the following, which are currently receiving applications:

  • The Summer Public Health Scholars Program is administered through a partnership between Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health, College of Physicians and Surgeons, School of Nursing, and College of Dental Medicine. The program aims to increase student interest and knowledge of public health and the biomedical sciences. It is designed for undergraduates in their sophomore or junior year and recent baccalaureate degree students who are undecided about their career goals and who have a minimum GPA of 2.7. This is a rigorous program that includes public health course work at Columbia University; hands-on field experience and immersion in a diverse, economically disadvantaged urban environment; seminars and lectures with public health leaders; and mentoring by faculty members, ensuring students' exposure to the breadth and importance of public health as a career option.

  • The Biostatistics Enrichment Summer Training Diversity Program (BEST) seeks to expand and diversify the behavioral and biomedical sciences’ workforce by introducing to undergraduates from under-represented populations the value of biostatistics and critical thinking to public health and medicine, with a focus on cardiovascular and pulmonary disease. Through BEST, students representing racial and ethnic minority groups, disadvantaged backgrounds, and students with disabilities join the Department of Biostatistics for eight weeks of research, training, academic and career planning, and social activities around New York City.

  • The Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) is an education project for doctoral students that is funded by the National Institutes of Health and is aimed at increasing the number of underrepresented students who enter research careers in public health. The program supports eight doctoral students by providing partial tuition funding, one to two years of research mentoring, and additional funding to attend one scientific conference per year. IMSD students participate in a bi-weekly seminar course that provides workshops on research methods, statistical analyses, scientific writing, professional development, and techniques and coping strategies for success in graduate school and a research career. In 2012, the program's work with the Department of Sociomedical Sciences was recognized by the national organization Excelencia in Education for improving educational achievement for Latino students in higher education. For more information on the IMSD program, contact the program director Dr. Ana Abraído-Lanza.

  • The Program to Inspire Minority Undergraduates in Environmental Health Research is an opportunity for minority undergraduate students to conduct research with faculty, doctoral students, and postdoctoral fellows at Columbia University, earn credits for any required research internships, earn money for working in a lab, and explore the possibility of a career in science. Students are paired with a Columbia University faculty mentor who will provide guidance on a research project. Faculty will also serve as a resource for students as they embark upon the graduate school application process.

Our Commitment to Promoting Diversity

A commitment to diversity requires more than offering a variety of programs; it means bringing a “lifecourse lens” to this essential issue. From pipeline programs for both students and faculty, to strong mentoring and collaboration efforts, and focused promotion and tenure plans. As an institution, we are particularly proud of the place we occupy in one of the most diverse urban settings in the nation. We are located in Washington Heights, a community that is animated by residents from diverse backgrounds, including the Dominican Republic and a variety of Central and South American nations. We are within a 10-minute drive of Harlem, one of the nation’s most illustrious centers of African American culture and arts in the nation.

As a center of higher learning in a city that boasts of a population that is characterized as a majority minority urban center, we see ourselves institutionally as practicing the kind of public health that we preach and promote in our classrooms, our research, and our programmatic interventions. We are surrounded by an enormous range of public health challenges in this city, and we are committed to connecting our work to the needs of our community.

We do more than talk about diversity, we live it.