The inaugural survey will collect baseline data on diversity, equity, and inclusion to assist institutions with measuring perceptions of campus climate. 

The American Dental Education Association (ADEA) will survey U.S. and Canadian dental schools and allied dental programs to collect baseline data on diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

“This project underscores ADEA’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and its responsibility and pledge to help all dental schools and dental education programs develop a better understanding of today’s landscape,” said ADEA President and CEO Karen P. West, DMD, MPH. “With the data we will collect, dental schools and programs will have valuable insights on the steps they can take to further promote inclusion, diversity and a strong sense of belonging for everyone.”

The inaugural climate assessment also will include questions on well-being and engagement among specific demographic groups. In collecting baseline data, the ADEA hopes the data will allow dental schools and allied dental programs to evaluate their strengths and identify areas for improvement related to inclusion and diversity efforts and creating and sustaining a humanistic environment. Additionally, the climate assessment data is intended to serve as a tool in guiding new and enhanced strategic initiatives related to diversity, equity and inclusion in dental education.

According to the ADEA, some dental schools and allied dental programs have already participated in climate studies at the campus level. However, one of the ADEA climate assessment’s major benefits reportedly will be the availability of comparative aggregated data specific to dental schools and allied dental programs, which has been unavailable for schools and programs participating solely in university/campus assessments. Individualized confidential customized reports and data tables will be available to assist in diversity and strategic planning at the school and program level.

ADEA is partnering with Nonprofit HR, a consulting group with offices in Washington, DC, and San Francisco, to conduct the survey, which will include all 78 dental schools and 800+ allied dental programs in the United States and Canada. ADEA and Nonprofit HR will also work with the ADEA Collaborative on Dental Education Climate Assessment (ADEA CDECA) and other key stakeholders to develop the survey instrument during the summer and fall 2021. Tentative plans for survey implementation are early spring 2022 and final climate assessment results will be available in fall 2022.

“For many decades, we have heard first- and secondhand accounts of microaggressions, macroaggressions, and lack of cultural sensitivities within work environments in general, and dental education specifically,” said Keith A. Mays, PhD, DDS, MS, chair of the ADEA Board of Directors and dean of the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. “As a faculty member and administrator, I experience too many off-the-record conversations about racial discrimination, sexual harassment or discrimination based on sexual orientation. This makes me believe we may not fully understand how many individuals within our institutions are impacted. Therefore, the ADEA climate assessment survey is an important step to further support healing and well-being in dental institutions.”