In the Disability Studies (DS) department, we walk with students through rethinking and reimagining disability. We share cases of successful inclusion and supports that broaden the role of disabled people and the upside potential of welcoming this diversity. We use stimulating social science and humanities’ lenses to critique the common perception that it is the disability that needs to be fixed or cured, or even that there is any “hard line” of “who is disabled.” We show instead how systemic ableism winds up making curriculum, policy and laws exclusionary – and why that is a collective loss for us all.
We use inquiry-based learning to teach students how to think through and analyze complex social and economic issues. Students can apply those theories to analysis of everyday cases from social media, news, business, and schools, and are prepared to confront and transform those kinds of real-world challenges when they walk out the door.
Topics covered in the program
There are three core pathways in DS, and each covers different topics:
Changing Imaginations & Representations
- How the meanings of disability are not “natural” but socially constructed
- How disability is perceived differently cross-culturally
- Media representations of disability – the good, the bad, the inaccurate
- The impact of our society’s systemic negative bias against disability
- How narrative sheds light on people’s experiences of disability and disablement
Changing Systems & Structures
- Historical perception, care and control / institutionalization of disabled people
- Changes in education policy, curriculum and accessibility for rights
- Health and social care systems developments, and evolving bioethical debates
- Employment innovations: business, government and policy change
- Sports, recreation and camps: ranges of inclusion and accessibility
Changing Opportunities for People with Intellectual Disability
This pathway uses an active, integrated, collaborative learning model, where students learn with and alongside community members with intellectual disabilities.
- Social inclusion and relationships across difference in the home, schools and workplace
- Historical perception, care and control of disabled people
- Education policy, rights, accessibility and innovation
- Bioethics and public discourse