The goal of Disability Studies is to provide students with a unique set of competency- and value-based educational experiences designed to enhance their awareness, knowledge, and skills relative to advocating for, working with, and supporting individuals with disabilities and their families.

Similar to African-American Studies and Women’s Studies, the Disability Studies Program is grounded in the civil rights movement. It is based on the idea that, as members of the largest minority group in the US, and one which has historically been marginalized and oppressed, people with disabilities share a history, a culture, and desire for social, political, and economic self-determination. Disability is viewed as a natural part of human existence and is therefore a representation of the diversity which exists amongst human beings.

Disability Studies conceptualizes the construct of disability as an interaction between an individual and the environment rather than simply a defect in the individual. Disability Studies reframes disability through the use of a minority group model to define it as a social construct rather than an individual characteristic. It maintains that it is our social attitudes and public policy that are in need of “fixing” and our students are the future leaders who can best bring about such change.

The content of Disability Studies includes history, literature, political science, sociology, law, and economics. As a discipline, Disability Studies is interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary. Potential students include those from the educational, medical, and social sciences, but also include students from virtually every discipline including history, the arts, and humanities.