Scholarly Network Launched to Explore, Expand Disability Studies

Scholarly Network Launched to Explore, Expand Disability Studies

By La Monica Everett-HaynesUniversity Communications
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The Disability Resource Center is housed in Highland Commons.
The Disability Resource Center is housed in Highland Commons.

A network is being developed to connect University of Arizona faculty, students, staff and administrators interested in disability studies. Beyond sharing best practices, the vision for the group includes launching collaborative research efforts, additional degree programs and other projects.

The founders of the new Society for Disability Studies – Sue Kroeger, former director of the Disability Resources director and current associate professor of practice in the Department of Disability and Psychoeducational Studies, and Dev K. Bose, an assistant director in the Department of English – have already generated interest from scholars in disability studies, rhetoric and composition, gender and women's studies, law and psychoeducational studies.

With the establishment of a reading group – which meets for the first time on Feb. 3 – Kroeger and Bose expect to draw people from an even broader range of disciplines.

The session will include a reading of a piece by Phillip M. Ferguson and Emily Nusbaum titled "Disability Studies: What Is It and What Difference Does It Make?" Network members will also read from Simi Linton's book "Claiming Disability: Knowledge and Identity." With the first session focused on medical and social models of disability, subsequent meetings will focus on disability and the body, and the administration of programs designed to support individuals with disabilities.

The reading group also will meet March 3 and April 7. All meetings will be held from noon to 1:30 p.m. in Room B116 of the Disability Resource Center, 1224 E. Lowell St. Those interested should email Bose at bose@email.arizona.edu.

UA students and employees can attend any or all of the meetings. Readings will be assigned in advance, and Kroeger and Bose will facilitate discussions.

Focusing on the intersection of disability studies with the humanities, sciences and social sciences, the Society for Disability Studies aims to provide a space for students, activists, teachers, artists, practitioners and researchers to unite and collaborate. 

"We hope to promote research and scholarship among our colleagues across the University and around the Tucson community," Bose said, adding that the network's intention is to inspire new knowledge in the form of research and creative works. "We invite all campus employees interested in welcoming diversity and accessibility in their work to attend the reading group meetings and get to know about the work of our colleagues."

The group's April meeting will include disability rhetorician Amy Vidali, an associate professor at the University of Colorado Denver. During her April 6-7 visit to the UA, Vidali will co-facilitate the reading group discussion and host a faculty development workshop for members of the Writing Program on ways faculty can create more inclusive environments inside and outside the classroom. Her visit is sponsored by Disability Resources, Academic Initiatives and Student Success, the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and the Office of Instruction and Assessment.

"A major goal of disability studies is challenging the view of disability as an individual deficit or defect that can be remedied solely through medical intervention or rehabilitation by ‘experts' and other service providers," said Bose, also the assistant director of online writing and accessibility for the Writing Program.

"A program in disability studies should explore models and theories that examine social, political, cultural and economic factors that define disability and help determine personal and collective responses to difference."

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