Kim Nielsen, professor of disability studies at the University of Toledo, has a new blog post up at the Beacon Broadside (note: from Beacon Press, also my publisher) announcing their undergraduate major in disability studies. It’s the first such major in the country.
“I’ve never been this excited about my education before,” my student said as we discussed his undergraduate B.A. degree in Disability Studies. Then he laughed at himself with astonishment. Because of his commitment to the topic, he also was working harder in his college coursework than he ever had before; and he’d never imagined that academic hard work and excitement could go together. This student, like all of our students, came to the University of Toledo’s Disability Studies Program seeking a future job (for himself) and justice (for all).
This fall the University of Toledo (Ohio) launched the nation’s first undergraduate, interdisciplinary B.A. in Disability Studies. Enabled by a significant endowment from The Ability Center of Greater Toledo, and with support from our campus leadership, we’ve hired marvelous faculty. We’re drawing in marvelous students. We’re hearing from interested employers who want our students as interns and future employees. Our courses prepare students for employment by enabling them to better understand the world around them, think about the future, and solve problems. We offer courses on literature and poetry, history, public policy, law, health care systems, and sexuality through a disability analysis. Some of our students are disabled; some are not.
I met Nielsen and her colleagues last week. Nielsen attended my public writing workshop, then they hosted me for a talk on police violence and disabilities. I’m thrilled with the work they are doing there, modeling how to center disability studies in an undergraduate context. Congrats to everyone at Toledo!