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Disability Studies - University of Oregon

  • Synopsis: Published: 2015-11-10 - University of Oregon students can now pursue a Minor or a Graduate Specialization in disability studies as part of their degree programs. For further information pertaining to this article contact: University of Oregon at
Disability Studies

Disability studies is defined as an academic discipline that examines the meaning, nature, and consequences of disability, as a social construct. In 1993, an official definition of disability studies was adopted by the Society for Disability Studies, a professional organization of scholars from around the world. The definition states that Disability Studies, among other things: ...examines the policies and practices of all societies to understand the social, rather than the physical or psychological determinants of the experience of disability. Disability Studies has been developed to dis-entangle impairments from the myths, ideology and stigma that influence social interaction and social policy. The scholarship challenges the idea that the economic and social statuses and the assigned roles of people with disabilities are the inevitable outcomes of their condition.

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Quote: "Students will engage with the disability community both on and off campus and explore how disability intersects with race, class, and gender."

The UO Disability Studies Initiative is excited to announce this new interdisciplinary program, which includes courses from across the university in fields like architecture, literature, law, education, gender studies, anthropology, geography, international studies, and arts administration.

The program gives students the opportunity to develop a deep understanding of the social, cultural, historical, and political framing of disability.

Students will engage with the disability community both on and off campus and explore how disability intersects with race, class, and gender.

The new Disability Studies minor and graduate specialization will operate out of the College of Arts and Sciences and the English Department.

Associate Dean of Humanities and Professor of English Karen Ford shared that "the dean's office is glad to foster the study of disability as a central human experience with worldwide legacies in the arts, culture, and traditions of thought and belief."

Wider Worlds Seminars

To help kick off the UO Disability Studies program, the Department of English, with funding by the Williams Council, will pilot an exciting new community-based course, "Life Stories: A Wider Worlds Seminar." Slated for spring 2016, this first Wider Worlds Seminar brings together college students and members of the local disability community to learn with and from each other as peers. Life Stories will provide a model of disability-inclusive education at the University of Oregon and form a key part of the new Disability Studies Minor and Graduate Specialization program.

Disability Studies Faculty Development Seminar

Faculty from across the University of Oregon will join national leaders in disability studies for a Faculty Development Seminar June 14-17, 2016, to develop new courses and a common core for the Disability Studies Minor and Graduate Specialization.

The seminar, organized by the UO Disability Studies Initiative, will be led by Mel Y. Chen, Associate Professor of Gender and Women's Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and Philip Ferguson, Professor of Educational Studies at Chapman University.

This seminar is sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences, the Office of Academic Affairs, the Vice President for Equity and Inclusion, the Provost, the Department of English, the School of Architecture and Allied Arts, the Graduate School, and the Accessible Education Center.

For more information, please contact:

  • Professor Elizabeth Wheeler: or 541-346-3929
  • Heidi von Ravensberg:
  • UO Disability Studies Initiative website:
  • Facebook and Twitter: University of Oregon Disability Studies

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