Thirty-six students have enrolled in the new disability studies minor, an interdisciplinary program that is the first of its kind in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE).
According to minor director and sociology professor Allison Carey, SU is the first PASSHE school to offer a program “geared specifically toward preparing students to work with people with disabilities.”
The minor requires two core classes, Introduction to Disability Studies, and Capstone in Disability Studies. In addition to these courses, students choose four electives from a list of 33 courses that span across all three colleges.
“The disabilities studies minor is flexible enough for students to feel like they are really having their majors and career plans augmented and enhanced,” Carey said.
In addition to aiding students viewing those with disabilities as a client base, disability studies is relevant to anyone entering the professional world.
“The world is changing and people with disabilities are not just clients. They are our colleagues, they are our bosses and so understanding human variation and how to interact across abilities is really important,” Carey said.
According to Carey, she developed the minor with three additional core faculty members: Marita Flager, associate professor of psychology; Cheryl Zaccagnini, professor of special education and Suzanne Morin, professor of psychology. These professors developed the idea along with a steering committee, which has representation from all three colleges.
“We started meeting across these disciplines and colleges” and “spent time connecting to other departments,” Carey said.
This minor is beneficial because it gives students a base to “examine the ways in which our understandings of disability shape the fundamental aspects of our lives, our relationships and the societies in which we live,” according to the minor’s webpage.
“We need to rethink disability and the abilities that people have across the spectrum,” Carey said.