Georgetown’s first Disability Studies Course Cluster is well under way thanks to collaboration between the university’s English department and Disability Studies Working Group. This exciting development undeniably advances Georgetown’s Jesuit values while addressing the lack of disability engagement on campus. In the absence of a disability cultural center, offering increased disability-related curricula and programming advances awareness of disability at Georgetown. Students must fulfill their communal responsibility for all Hoyas by calling for the institution of such courses and programs in the near future.
Currently, the Disability Studies Course Cluster comprises three existing courses: “Introduction to Disability Studies,” “Bioethics and the Abnormal Body” and “Religion and Disability Studies.” These courses encourage students to engage with ethical principles, social justice movements and cultural diversity through the lens of disability awareness — all hallmarks of the university’s Jesuit identity. A further institutionalization of this vision through the establishment of a disability studies minor would go a long way in building upon the momentum of this course cluster. The demand for the continuation of the dialogue exists; administrators must capitalize on this drive.
Disability discourse at Georgetown too often focuses on issues of access at the expense of acknowledging disability as a culture and a community. A disability studies minor would ensure that disability in all its forms is given the weight it deserves, helping to make the campus inclusive to all students. Additionally, further consideration should be given to a disability cultural center as a place to celebrate what remains largely unrecognized on campus. This center would serve as a resource for students with disabilities to coordinate educational programming on topics such as disability rights activism, disability culture and disability public policy.
The introduction of the new course cluster seeks to correct one of Georgetown’s deficiencies. But to truly understand disability as something beyond a brokenness that requires “accommodation” and “repair,” student activists must continue to lobby for a minor, more course clusters or even a disability cultural center. Only then can the university cultivate a more nuanced understanding of disability as an identity on campus.
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