IDEA Fellowship

The goal of the IDEA Fellowship is to fund service, educational or research projects that students take on at DSPH aimed at promoting and supporting inclusion, diversity, equity, and antiracism (IDEA) work. Students are paid to work either 10-hours or 20-hours per week through the Fall, Winter and Spring terms for one academic year on a particular IDEA project. When applying to the IDEA Fellowship, students are asked to rank their top choice projects from that year’s options. If selected, students are matched to a faculty or professional staff mentor who they will work with on their project. In addition, IDEA Fellows form a small cohort each year where they have the opportunity to check-in with the other Fellows and receive further support in their projects from DSPH’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

The fellowship is open to undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students enrolled at DSPH. Please note that in accordance with Drexel’s policy, full-time students may not work more than a total of 20 hours per week in Drexel positions during enrolled terms. With this in mind, for PhD students, completing the fellowship during a shorter time frame in the summer when the limit is raised to 40 hours per week, may be possible. Fellows are paid at the standard rates set by the university and DSPH for student workers depending on their degree level. IDEA Fellowship positions are typically posted in late summer, with applications open at the start of fall term, and positions begin in October.

See Academic Year 2022 projects below.

Read the 2022 IDEA fellows bios

Academic Year 2023 projects and the application will be posted in late August/early September 2023.

If you have questions, please contact Rory Schonning at

Academic Year 2022-2023 Project Descriptions

Diversity and inclusion in the faculty tenure and promotion process

Scholars argue that faculty of color and those from underrepresented backgrounds may be judged by a higher standard than their white peers in the tenure and promotion process. This may be due to the “invisible labor” done by these faculty in service-related activities, mentoring, and community outreach that is not typically rewarded in the tenure and promotion process. Given the importance of a diverse academic workforce (at all ranks), as well as training and rewarding allies for work done to advance diversity and inclusion, we need research to determine the extent to which universities and their faculty desire including diversity and inclusion as a part of the annual review and/or tenure and promotion process. This initiative may include gathering and reviewing T&P criteria from Drexel and other universities to access the extent of inclusion of diversity and inclusion elements in their review process, including whether this reporting is voluntary or mandatory. In addition, surveying the faculty about whether they approve of including these elements in the review process is important because achieving buy-in from stakeholders is key in such a democratic process. This project may lead to changes in how diversity and inclusion activities are incentivized among DSPH faculty, as well as lead to a publication or report describing how universities are handling these important issues more broadly. This information will also be used to inform NIH FIRST program grantees about strategies used at other universities to improve how diversity and inclusion activities are handled in tenure and promotion committees nationwide. Finally, IDEA Fellow candidates interested in this project will gain a greater understanding of academic governance and related tenure and promotion policies.

Point of Contact: Jan Eberth, Chair HMP

Advancing and sustaining an antiracism research

The IDEA Fellow will work closely with the Associate Dean for Research to advance and help sustain the Research theme of the Antiracism Action Plan (AAP). Specifically, the fellow will help further develop and help sustain existing strategies for supporting research and research training focused on antiracism and elimination of health inequities experienced by BIPOC.  Existing activities for faculty include supporting the development of grants focused on antiracism by collecting and disseminating antiracism focused grant funding announcements and providing resources for faculty to apply for diversity supplements, and collection and analysis of data collected as part of faculty annual reviews to determine the extent/growth of research focused on the impact of racism on health and inequities.  Existing activities focused on students include a seminar series for graduate students on antiracist research, and provision of resources for BIPOC students to write student grants (F32). New activities could include, (a) collaboration with Ubuntu Center and FIRST faculty to help develop training materials or other resources to help faculty and/or students write content for grants focused on racism/health antiracism (e.g., collection and dissemination of key research articles); (b) improve or further develop the data collection system to assess antiracism research activities, including development of metrics that can be tracked longitudinally to assess growth in this area; (c) develop a boot camp for PhD students to write student grant submissions; (d) support the development of research training grants focused on antiracism (e.g., R25). The specific activities conducted by the IDEA fellow will thus include continued support of existing activities, in addition to one or more new activity.

Point of Contact: Brisa Sanchez, Associate Dean for Research

Dornsife Initiative to Transform Academia for Equity: IDEA DITAE

Work with Drs. Bellamy and Moore on Dornsife Initiative to Transform Academia for Equity (DITAE) project. This project was recently funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) whose overarching goal is to create and sustain the structures, policies and culture changes needed to ensure both the academic success of diverse scholars and the production of scientific knowledge relevant to eliminating health inequities in our society at the Dornsife School of Public Health (DSPH). DITAE builds on a long DSPH tradition of a commitment to equity, diversity and social justice as critical to improving population health reflected in the foundational principles of the School twenty-five years ago and manifested today in the School’s diverse faculty and in its rich work on policy and community-engaged health equity research. The program will also leverage the School’s strategic plan which espouses inclusion and diversity as fundamental values critical to its public health mission as well as the Dornsife Antiracism Action Plan (AAP) launched in the summer of 2020 and the work of the Antiracism Implementation Task force described below. Responsibilities will include assisting with revising the 2020 DSPH Climate Survey; summarizing and contrasting key findings from 2020 and 2022 Climate Surveys; and assisting in preparation for facilitating focus group activities for DITAE.

Points of Contact: Scarlett Bellamy, Associate Dean for Diversity & Inclusion and Renee Moore, Director of the Biostatistics Scientific Collaboration Center

Translating Dr. Ruth Shim’s Structural Racism Self-Learning Course to a DSPH Community Experience

The following describes the objectives of the learning objectives of Dr. Shim’s self-directed learning course. You will assist in translating this content to a community experience that we can engage in as a school community.

The Aspen Institute defines structural racism as “a system in which public policies, institutional practices, cultural representations, and other norms work in various, often reinforcing ways to perpetuate racial group inequity. It identifies dimensions of our history and culture that have allowed privileges associated with ‘whiteness’ and disadvantages associated with ‘color’ to endure and adapt over time.” However, these systems are populated by people, and thus, individuals need to commit to a practice of education and self-reflection to become anti-racist and to begin to dismantle structural racism in the systems in which we all interact.

This self-directed learning course is designed to be engaging and entertaining to develop a life-long practice of self-reflection. For 20 days, as a community, we will commit to read, watch, and listen to the provided educational content and answer self-reflection questions to deepen our understanding of structural racism.

Points of Contact: Scarlett Bellamy, Associate Dean for Diversity & Inclusion and Renee Moore, Director of the Biostatistics Scientific Collaboration Center

Building an online resource of racial segregation and spatial polarization measures for research and practice

Need for Shared Resources on Neighborhood Measurement: Data on social determinants of health are often derived from the American Communities Survey and the US Census. These data, derived from resident and household characteristics, are used to understand the social determinants (e.g., racial/ethnic, economic, education, employment) across neighborhoods. Other data sources provide information on the physical determinants of health within neighborhoods including supportive resources (e.g., healthy food sources, recreational and healthcare facilities) and adverse influences (e.g., redlining, air pollution). As attention to unequal opportunities to be healthy depending on where one lives is growing, the plethora of data sources and ways to construct measures is challenging to navigate. Those new to working with neighborhood measures can benefit from a curated guide to the options, facilitating selection of available approaches to meet their current data needs, or creation of new approaches to fill a key niche.

What is Spatial Polarization: One complex but important type of neighborhood measurement that is particularly relevant to studying health disparities is spatial social polarization (SSP). The Index of Concentration at the Extremes (ICE) is a commonly used indicator of spatial social polarization which measures the extent to which a population is distributed at the extremes of deprivation and privilege of socioeconomic characteristics within a geographic area. This is highly relevant to studying not just the intensity but also the unequal health effects of population distribution patterns such as racial residential segregation. SSP indices are critical for understanding the role of racial and socioeconomic segregation in shaping health disparities because they are predictive of neighborhood differences in residents’ health, outperforming commonly used area-level socioeconomic indices.  Established SSP indices can be meaningfully expanded to measure area-level structural SSP, allowing researchers to address policy-relevant questions about how place affects health.

Proposed Project: We propose to collaboratively create an online resource to guide the selection of measures of racial segregation and spatial social polarization for research and implementation. Providing annually updated online resources for these measurements will support observation, mapping, and action planning in urban communities. Making this information available to health researcher and practice audiences has the potential to support efficient and cohesive efforts toward addressing inequities by providing new knowledge on the role of spatial social polarization in health disparities while clarifying and identifying the distinct area-level characteristics that perpetuate the unequal burden of adverse health outcomes. The aspiration is to create an online resource that serves as a quick-start guide that we wished we had earlier in our own learning, that we and those with related interests can use to onboard new team members, and that others can use to get oriented to the point where they can themselves question common practice and thus elevate standards rigor and relevance to action.

Student role and support: The student would actively engage in the creation of draft online materials, gather input and feedback from experts and potential users of the online resource, and plan for an annual update process. The student would be supported by a team that meets weekly, including faculty, staff, and students. The selected student would have opportunities to contribute to envisioning and implementing creation of an online resource, actively participate in presentations and discussions, and use feedback as an inspiration for revisions and future planning.

Student selection and main point of contact: Gina Lovasi will be the main point of contact, working closely with Jody Bayer, Edwin McCulley, and Hoda Abdel Magid of Stanford. Dr. Lovasi (or her delegate within this team if needed to facilitate scheduling) will work with the selection committee and participate in the selection process for Fellows. Dr. Abdel Magid will provide substantive expertise on SSP literature and measurement.

Deliverables (with flexibility to be shaped by the selected student):
1. Website mock-up
Envision and prototype an online resource of racial segregation and spatial polarization measures (building on a resource for food environment measurement developed by Edwin McCulley, who will provide guidance)
2. Work plan for an annual refresh
Literature search guide (databases and search terms for both peer-reviewed and grey literature)
Student engagement models or expansion strategies
3. Audience outreach plan
Webinar, conference abstract, manuscript, and/or blog post sharing to academic and practice audiences

Point of Contact: Gina S. Lovasi, Ph.D., MPH, Dornsife Associate Professor of Urban Health

Ubuntu Center IDEA Fellow

The Ubuntu Center on Racism, Global Movements & Population Health Equity, Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University unites diverse partners to generate and translate evidence, accelerate antiracism solutions, and transform the health of communities locally, nationally, and globally. The Ubuntu Center addresses ways in which structural racism and inequities impact health. The meaning of the center, Ubuntu “I am…because we are” truly embraces the essence of what we stand for. Working collectively, we will achieve a just future, free from systems of oppression, full of new possibilities through bold, collective action, and an equitable world in which all individuals and communities are healthy and thrive.

The Ubuntu Center is rooted in the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic; the state-sanctioned violence by law enforcement in 2020, most notably the killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd; the resulting protests that were sparked globally; and the renewed sense of urgency around racism as a public health crisis.

Partnering with faculty, staff, movement fellows, global constituents, and community members, we will work together to connect antiracism and population health scholarship and action locally and nationally to ongoing work happening in other parts of the world. We will provide dedicated spaces for rigorous, transdisciplinary research and bold collective action designed to address racism and eliminate racial health inequities. Here’s how:
1. Advance transdisciplinary, anti-racist population health research training and scholarship.
2. Bridge relationships to build critical consciousness and power for health equity and racial justice.
3. Expand collective action for population health aligned with the principles and practices of community organizing and social movements.
4.Strengthen capacity and sustainability to maximize our impact.

There are many ways to help move the mission and vision of The Ubuntu Center forward. We invite IDEA Fellows to work alongside the center staff and faculty to address how structural racism, power, and community solutions manifest on topics such as climate change/adaptation, land and dispossession, housing and affordability, and more.
Projects could include creating summary reports of the Ubuntu Spring Teach-in series or the COVID in Context project. Additional research and programming support is possible as the work of the center progresses.
We look forward to working in partnership with an IDEA Fellow to transform the health of communities locally, nationally, and globally.

Point of Contact: Jennifer Ware, Deputy Director Ubuntu Center