About Disability Studies
Disability studies is a diverse interdisciplinary field that investigates broad questions
about the nature, meanings, and consequences of disability from interrelated social,
historical, cultural, political, and interpersonal perspectives. The undergraduate
Minor in Disability Studies examines disability issues from multiple lenses, balancing
theoretical exploration with practical application, and providing students with a
broad understanding of the lived experiences of disability—including ableism, discrimination,
and social movements for disability rights, access, and justice. As a culmination
of the program, students are placed in practicum settings where they gain unique skills
and perspectives, apply theory to real-world situations, and participate in community-based
disability research and advocacy.
These goals are conceptualized as the ultimate "ends" we hope to achieve in educating
students and trainees in disability studies.
- Promote full social integration by providing knowledge, awareness, and experience of inclusion and integration of
people with disabilities as a foundational ethical principle of disability studies.
- Position disability as a social justice issue by exposing students to historical and contemporary disability issues and providing
learning opportunities to identify, articulate, and address inequities and injustices
affecting the lives of disabled people.
- Position disability as diversity by providing theoretical and practical contexts for thinking about disability as
a component of human diversity, and providing students with tools to critically examine
social and cultural constructions of disability.
In order to assess the program and student learning, we have developed the following
list of learning outcomes, which represent key areas of expertise for all students
graduating with a minor in disability studies.
- Students will demonstrate competency in understanding the biopsychosocial implications
of disability and in producing interdisciplinary disability studies research questions
- Students will learn to examine and critique enabling and disabling ideological assumptions
that shape social institutions, professions, policies, and systems of representation.
Students will also demonstrate the ability to theoretically connect ideological assumptions
about disability to those regarding gender, race, age, class, nationality, and sexual
- Students will gain knowledge and understanding about disability history, rights, policies,
and contemporary issues, especially in terms of the way people with disabilities,
through their own agency, advocacy, and voices, have shaped conceptions of disability
in specific historical and contemporary contexts.
- Students will demonstrate improved skills in working with disabled people and increased
ability to understand individual and family concerns.
- Students will have a broader awareness of the applicability of disability studies
knowledge to a wide range of professions, and increased understanding of specific
careers related to disability equity and inclusion.