Perspectives on Diversity and Inclusion

Perspectives on Diversity and Inclusion

Ragsdale HeadshotSpeaker: Steven K. Ragsdale

America was founded on economic principles based in simultaneous and overlapping forms of inequality. Located on prime water ways, Baltimore and the state’s business apparatus would become the clearinghouse for American trade and macroeconomics that exist on the complex and dynamic socioecology of race, ethnicity, and gender sentiments for more than two centuries. 

Join Steven K. Ragsdale for a three-part series of presentations and discussions to discover the role that Baltimore plays in shaping the world’s concepts on race,  gender,  and health care politics that are still evident today.

Register for individual sessions using the links below.

This event is open to faculty, staff, and students.

Series Calendar:

TopicPresentationsDebrief/Follow-Up Sessions
Part 1:  
The Unknown, Untold Truth: The Roots of Inequity and Racism in Health Care and Nursing

Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020 

This event has concluded.

Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020  

This event has concluded.

Part II:  
Deconstruction of Systems and Historical Group Think 

Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020  

This event has concluded.

Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020 

This event has concluded.

Part III:
Moving from Understanding to Collective Action at UMSON

Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021

Morning Session
9 - 11 a.m.
Register Now

Afternoon Session
2 - 4 p.m.
Register Now



  • Develop a general understanding of the history of local health-related social determinants in Baltimore to discover some unknown and seldom discussed cultural habits and customs. 
  • Discover the relationship that social determining factors have with the culture of education and care delivery nationally and locally in health care and nursing; to contextualize current conditions by understanding past pathways. 
  • Ponder the following discussion questions: 
    • What potential beneficial/adverse professional habits have been broadly inculcated into nursing and health care over the years? What has been the net effect professionally, socially, and clinically?
    • Has there been a human toll of the historically based socially determining factors that were intentionally driven toward derision and if so, does the phenomenon travel through time?

Part I: The Unknown, Untold Truth: The Roots of Inequity and Racism in Health Care and Nursing

  • Tale of Two Systems: How Maryland built intentional, durable bifurcated systems in the social determinants of health that are steeply entrenched systematically
  • Segregated environment, housing stock, education systems, job distribution, commercial lending, etc. 
  • Understanding the local separate and unequal systems: How perfectly designed!
  • Unpack the history of local health care and the cross section of racial inequity in policy, research, and patient care internationally 
  • Research Academy History: Subject matter experts on all things race yesterday and today … 
  • Flexner Report: Western culture, health education, and the ramifications 
  • Brief history of American nursing and the African-American community
  • Are the current  nursing  teaching/research models  promoting technical and social culture  shifts in the pedagogy? If no, what more can be done? 

Part II: Deconstruction of Systems and Historical Group Think

  • Addressing the elephant in the room … systemic racism and barriers to a better nursing practice model: educating future generations successfully
  • Journal article review: Relationship flaws and related outcomes in the current day systems 
  • Given history, is the current social systems approach useful in addressing diversity and health care inequity useful given the current value of African-American humanity? 
  • If health care is a local phenomenon, are the current day systems set up to address disparities in a systemically meaningful way? 
  • Better understand implicit (unconscious) bias and address personally mediated bias and their relationship to systems dynamics 
  • Addressing white preferences: Roughly 68% of respondents have automatic preference to white people while only 14% have an automatic preference to Black people 
  • 75% of Implicit Association Test (IAT) respondents have correlated men more strongly with work roles and women more strongly with family roles 
  • What are better ways to deconstruct current day nursing policies, practices, and education going forward? 

Part III: Moving from Understanding to Collective Action at UMSON

For the final session of the three-part series on Perspectives on Diversity and Inclusion presented by Steven K. Ragsdale, MSL, we focus on identifying ways the School of Nursing can come together to create collective change. Ragsdale provided a foundation in the first two sessions to understand the historical components and individual factors, including implicit bias, that have brought us to our present day.

In this highly interactive session, participants will work in small groups with an assigned facilitator to identify actionable steps to increase racial justice and enhance inclusion and equity in the School of Nursing.

Attendance at prior sessions is not required. We want to hear a chorus of voices on how to create a more equitable UMSON.

About the Speaker

Steven K. Ragsdale is a senior consultant and former administrator with more than 25 years building and managing hospital operations, developing health care innovations, and advancing pathways to better and safer care. His work in diversity, equity, and inclusion is guided by his steep understanding and desire to appreciate concepts that drive difference as a normal part of society and how it animates behavior and performance over time. His interpretation of systems is often paired with historical analysis that helps shape innovative models aimed at improving outcomes and efficiencies in disparate treatment. His strategic efforts have led to measurable cost saving improvements for many across the United States health care arena. He joined the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health as associate faculty in 2020.

Nationally, Ragsdale developed and piloted a patient safety program in several states to determine the safety and consumer benefits to the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program effecting more than a half million American government employees. In 2002, Ragsdale shifted his interest to investigating and understanding how the historic social culture of the medical community impacts individual and systemic behaviors in education, research, and care efforts. Ragsdale received Lean Six Sigma for Healthcare training at the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute learning to identify systemic defects in health care. In 2008, he received training in systems theory and design at the Ackoff Center for Advancement of Systems Approaches at the University of Pennsylvania-School of Organizational Dynamics. Ragsdale combined his understanding of history and systems dynamics to become a recognized leader in understanding how individual decision-making becomes systematized behaviors that concretize over time.

Today, Ragsdale provides expertise on standards of diversity, equity, and inclusion across medicine, education, environmental justice and the law. As a lecturer, he provides guidance to students and professionals seeking to understand the value of socio-ecological modeling in developing culturally competent systems. In graduate education crossing medicine, public health, nursing, education, engineering, social work, and the law, Ragsdale provides guidance on the intersection of social history, social determining factors, U.S. policy, and the professional cultures that often inhibit optimal outcomes.

Ragsdale has helped expand research, policy, and community efforts that help expand services to underrepresented and vulnerable populations since 1997. In 2011, he served on the Maryland Health Quality and Cost Council’s Health Disparities Workgroup that developed legislation helping to expand the focus on health disparities while reducing barriers to equitable care. More recently, he served a Maryland legislative workgroup focused on a creating a Health in All Policy framework that can preemptively mitigate disparate health outcomes.

Ragsdale has a degree in history and cultural studies in Latin America and a Master of Science in Law from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. He serves on the board of directors of the Baltimore City Historical Society, where he is chairman of the Education Subcommittee, and of Blue Water Baltimore, where he is a member of the Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Subcommittee. Ragsdale was born in Baltimore and continues to enjoy living in Maryland.