Minor in Disability Studies

Disability Studies Units

disability rights activist Annie Segarra, a queer, Latinx woman, wearing a t-shirt that reads The Future is Accessible
Annie Segarra, disability rights activist, wears the t-shirt she designed for the 2017 Women's March.

The Disability Studies Minor is flexible with a large selection of GE units to choose from. Students will take 9 units of core courses and 9 units of electives. Electives are interdisciplinary in that students can choose courses from a wide variety of different departments or majors. Students can tailor the courses taken toward completion of the minor to meet their unique professional interests and major.

Disability is a cultural experience. Disability Studies uses an interdisciplinary perspective to explore the disability experience. Disability Studies questions concepts such as "normalcy" and analyzes "difference" through origins, institutions, policies, philosophies, culture, and traditions. The concept of disability has legal, medical, political, social, and temporal variations and implications. Like Africana Studies, Gender and Women's Studies, and Asian American Studies, Disability Studies is an academic study developed through the emergence of a Social Justice and Civil Rights Movement – the Disability Rights Movement. As such, the interdisciplinary nature of this minor, which brings together contributions from a variety of fields and disciplines decenters the conception of disability as solely a medical problem or an educational concern, but rather an identity and a way of living in the world.

This interdisciplinary minor can enhance a student's career by preparing them to understand the nature of disabilities, the meaning of disability in our society, the social, political, and health implications of disability, and methods of making our society more inclusive to those who live with disabilities. The program can also prepare students to work with individuals with disabilities in a variety of community settings.

The Disability Studies Minor also can contribute to the professional development of students. Those who complete the Minor will have the opportunity to have at least one significant experience with community service. Such experiences can help students make important contacts in their chosen professions, and students can develop important skills for collaborating respectfully and responsibly with others. Such experiences also clarify how topics from the classroom can be applied in real-world circumstances.

The Minor’s requirements make it easy to integrate with a student’s General Education courses or the student’s major.

Academic Advisement

Students should plan their electives for the Disability Studies Minor in coordination with undergraduate major advisors.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students who complete the Disability Studies Minor will:

  1. Increase cultural competency by critically examining disability as a global societal phenomenon to help destigmatize disability culture and promote disability as a positive cultural identity.
  2. Evaluate critically the ways in which ableism intersects with racism, sexism, cissexism, classism, ageism, and homophobia.
  3. Explore models and theories that examine the social, political, cultural and economic factors that define disability.
  4. Acquire an awareness of disability history, rights, legislation, representation and societal attitudes to understand disability in a personal, social, economic, artistic, and political context. 
  5. Assess the various roles people with disabilities have, through their own agency, advocacy, and voices shaped conceptions of disability in history and modern society.
  6. Examine ways in which various systems are fraught with ableism and inhibit and limit full participation of people with disabilities.
  7. Develop analytical and observation skills to identify systemic ableism and apply inclusive disability frameworks to their academic, professional, and personal lives.
  8. Explore Disability Studies within their field of study and intended profession to enhance advocacy, inclusive best practices, and their role as a change agent.
  9. Apply the knowledge and skills gained to promote change among individuals, communities, and organizations, by participating in coursework and other course experiences.

Requirements for the Minor

18 units minimum.  At least 9 units must be upper division

Core: 9 units (each course listed is 3 units)

  1. SPED 200SL: Introduction to Disability Studies GE
  2. HIST 389: Disability in American History and Law
  3. ENGL 322: Disability in Literature and Culture

Electives: 9 units (each course listed is 3 units)

Fieldwork and Community Service

This program encourages reflection, outreach, and activism. Because issues around disability identity, rights, and access reach across many disciplines, consider applying the concepts from the disability studies minor to your major. Possible electives for this experience include:

Comics and/in Disability

Comics and/in Disability event flyer (PDF)