Friday, September 19, 2008

New master's degree in Disability Studies

A new MA degreee in Disability Studies will be offered at the City University of New York (CUNY) beginning in the Spring of 2009.

Here is some information about the degree from the program's web site:

This 30-credit Master of Arts in Disability Studies is offered by the School of Professional Studies and the John F. Kennedy Jr. Institute for Worker Education. It is designed to prepare a new generation of service providers, researchers, advocates, and policy makers to be leaders in community-based or governmental agencies as they evolve in the 21st century, as well as to become more skilled and insightful administrators, advocates, educators, scholars or social service professionals.

The National Institute for Disability and Rehabilitation Research defines Disability Studies as “the holistic study of the phenomenon of disability through a multidisciplinary approach.” Disability Studies takes as its fundamental principle the definition of disability as a “social construction,” as distinct from the prevailing medical model of disability, asserting that disability is not inherent in the individual as a deficit, but rather, is a set of physical and social barriers that often constrain people. This strength-based approach supports a paradigm in which disability is regarded as a basic aspect of human experience.

Another fundamental premise of the Disability Studies approach is that the direct experience of individuals with disabilities is primary. Thus, disability scholars are re-writing history from the perspective of people with disabilities, and people with disabilities and their families are actively participating in the design, implementation and evaluation of services and supports. Disability Studies, accordingly, furthers empirical research and academic scholarship that reflects the priorities of people with disabilities.

Recent years have seen a surge in interest in Disability Studies, including the publication of several journals and the growth of the Society for Disability Studies, a national association of scholars, artists and activists interested in the phenomenon of disability, which is based at CUNY. The M. A. in Disability Studies provides a rigorous, interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary curriculum that utilizes a "person-centered” approach to the study of disability, incorporating overlapping perspectives from the social sciences, humanities, science, social policy and the law. The degree prepares students to further or begin a career working with and for people with a wide range of disabilities and their families. It is expected that graduates will be able to assume leadership roles in systems change advocacy, service provision, or government. They will also be equipped to protect and further the rights of people with disabilities and will have the knowledge and the tools to impact broader society.Students in the Master of Arts in Disability Studies will study with renowned faculty from across The City University of New York as well as with expert practitioners in the field.

More information and the application package can be downloaded at The application deadline is November 14, 2008, for the Spring 2009 semester.

Any questions about the new program can be directed to: Mariette Bates at