Cool Course Dispatch: Disability Studies

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In this Tandon course, student teams collaborate with a guest consultant to learn how to better serve people with disabilities.

A student chats with a guest consultant who is in a wheelchair while drinking coffee.

 

In Senior Lecturer Allan Goldstein’s disability studies course at the Tandon School of Engineering, students work in teams with a guest consultant with a disability to explore that person’s interests, abilities, and desires. “One of the most exciting class sessions is when we all first meet,” says Goldstein. His course is project-oriented, and culminates with presentations. Each team creates a person-centered documentary or other digital storytelling piece portraying the guest consultant. The syllabus also includes assigned readings, lectures, and field trips to make students familiar with the issues people with disabilities face.

“I’m drawn to this subject because I am an older sibling and guardian of a Willowbrook State School survivor,” Goldstein reflects. “We are all variations on the theme of being human.”

The course is a core requirement of NYU’s Disability Studies minor. But Goldstein says it’s suitable for everyone.

“Students enjoy learning that we all want work and love,” he says. “And consultants find increasing self-esteem by educating their typical student partners about life with a disability.”

Two students with a guest consultant who is in a wheelchair.
A student presents his film about one of the guest consultants to the class and the consultants.

More Ways to Engage

If you’re passionate about disability studies, consider checking out the Center for Disability Studies. Not only does it host interdisciplinary programming and research, it also offers the cross-school minor in Disability Studies. Sample courses that count toward the minor include Medical Ethics at CAS and Mental Health: Historical, Social, and Political Perspectives at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. Additionally, check out Developing Assistive Technology at Tandon. What’s more, Queer and Disability Theory: The Then and Now of Crip at Tisch is also an option.

This Cool Course Dispatch is brought to you by Eileen Reynolds, Kate Lord, and the team at NYU News. From analyzing metaphorical monsters to disability studies, NYU students are getting hands-on experience—in and outside the classroom. Click through for more more Cool Course Dispatches.