Academic Ableism and Alternatives

Conference/Symposium | September 30 | 10 a.m.-5 p.m. |  Alumni House

 Margaret Price, Associate Professor of English, The Ohio State University; Wanda J. Blanchett, Distinguished Professor and Dean, Graduate School of Education, Rutgers; Stephanie Kerschbaum, Associate Professor of English, University of Delaware; Jay Dolmage, Associate Professor of English, University of Waterloo

 Disability Studies Research Cluster, HIFIS, Equity and Inclusion, Vice Chancellor, Graduate School of Education, College of Environmental Design, Department of Ethnic Studies, Department of Gender and Women's Studies, Department of Rhetoric, Department of Sociology

The symposium takes its name from the title of Jay Dolmage’s forthcoming book, Academic Ableism. “For too long,” Dolmage argues, “disability has been constructed as the antithesis of higher education, often positioned as a distraction, a drain, a problem to be solved. The ethic of higher education encourages students and teachers alike to accentuate ability, valorize perfection, and stigmatize anything that hints at intellectual, mental, or physical weakness, even as we gesture toward the value of diversity and innovation.” Our focus will be on moving beyond the gesture. One of UC Berkeley’s vital social contributions was its early support of the creation of a “center for independent living” for–and, vitally, controlled by—disabled people. Through the decades, Berkeley has played a key role in bringing “higher education” and “disability” together. Today, though, a series of institutional decisions and systemic problems threatens parts of that legacy, even as ongoing activism, advocacy and disability studies continue it. With four scholars who are leading the way, we will talk together about finding new and lasting alternatives to the ableist academy.

 sschweik@berkeley.edu