A perspective on the Baltimore freddie gray riots: Turning tragedy into civic engagement and culture change in an academic department of medicine

Sherita Hill Golden, Thomas K.M. Cudjoe, Panagis Galiatsatos, Darren Brownlee, Eleni Flanagan, Deidra C. Crews, Nisa Maruthur, Megan Brown, Anthony Ashby, David B. Hellmann, Tamala Knox, Mark E. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Problem The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Department of Medicine (DOM) sought ways of enhancing community engagement after the death of Freddie Gray and consequent unrest in Baltimore City. Approach The DOM launched a five-part noon lecture series in May 2015—“Journeys in Medicine”—to facilitate discussion among DOM faculty, staff, trainees, and community residents regarding the city’s unrest. This evolved into a department-wide civic engagement initiative in July 2016 to enhance employee and community engagement. The civic engagement committee is composed of two collaborative steering committees: Staff Engagement and Community Engagement. Outcomes The DOM has sponsored and/or participated in programs to address major concerns raised during the Journeys in Medicine series—improving the strained relationship between police and the community, mentoring young people, involving more DOM employees in community activities, sharing research results with the community, and addressing cultural differences to enhance relationships and communication. To enhance staff engagement, a Nursing Diversity Council, complementing the Faculty Diversity Council, has been established. DOM faculty and staff have participated in and championed several disease-focused physical activity endeavors (e.g., walks) that, collectively, have raised over $40,000. Community service projects include supporting registration and screenings at a local health fair, a professional clothing drive, and DOM Days of Service. Next Steps The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine DOM is developing an administrator leadership program and continuing to participate in meaningful activities, leading to tangible outcomes designed to strengthen connections to the surrounding neighborhood and enhance engagement among all DOM employees.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1808-1813
Number of pages6
JournalAcademic Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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