November 7, 2019 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

Congratulations to Dr. Pamela Cushing, Disability Studies Founder and Coordinator, and Director of the Jean Vanier Research Centre, who received a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Connection Grant, entitled “Mobilizing the Radical Insights of Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche,” in the amount of $46,000.

The goal of the grant is to “leverage the power of research to reduce barriers and improve society’s responses to the difference of disability,” explains Dr. Cushing. She is connecting a team of scholars, self-advocates and practitioners to discuss, critique and improve on Dr. Vanier’s original insights to create new strategies to achieve inclusion and reduce ableism.

“This international team is working on putting his ideas into conversation with great new insights coming out of related research by other scholars,” says Dr. Cushing. She notes that, during the 1970s, Dr. Vanier wrote on how acknowledging and accepting the universality of human vulnerability might better address the underlying causes of marginalization.

Dr. Cushing reports that renowned researcher Dr. Brené Brown (the University of Houston) is currently taking up these themes in interesting new ways as are several scholars on this SSHRC team including: John Swinton, (University of Aberdeen & Co-Applicant), Gilles leCardinal, (Université de Technologie de Compiègne)  and Benjamin Wall (Houston University). Dr. Cushing uses Vanier’s insights as a corrective to the limits of a rights model for improving inclusion.

The grant augments the team’s efforts to bring this network of thinkers and practitioners together to disseminate insights learned during the Inaugural Symposium on Jean Vanier’s Insights and Works, held at King’s on June 25-27, 2019 . It will also facilitate a crucial element of the project which aims to more fully involve disabled and other marginalized people in these conversations. The team will tap into existing efforts as they build their tools. A best practice example of full integration of self-advocates was L’Arche’s Celebrate the Gift symposium.

The grant will facilitate Dr. Cushing, Dr. Swinton, and Lori Vaanholt (L’Arche Canada) to extend mentoring and training of university students, junior scholars, and self-advocates with opportunities for employment and research capacity development which SSHRC prioritizes.

The projects will involve students and instructors from King’s Disability Studies program helping us to “grow in our innovative capacity in classes where our graduates are learning to become change agents for a more inclusive world,” Dr. Cushing said.

 “The SSHRC Connection grant provides support to connect diverse people using Vanier’s insights as a starting point for creating best practices towards genuine belonging. We are sharing examples of how marginalized people’s non-traditional gifts are recognized so they can flourish and contribute to their communities,” says Dr. Cushing. The grant supports them to extend the research archive with King’s Cardinal Carter Library Chief Librarian, Adrienne Co-Dyre; curate a second, more inclusive conference, and execute a knowledge dissemination plan.  

For more information on SSHRC Connection Grants, please visit

For more information on the Jean Vanier Research Centre at King’s, please visit

For more on King’s Disability Studies, please visit