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Continuing Education

Disability Studies in Education: Empowering All Students and Removing Institutional Barriers

Date: July 16, 2018 Location: Online


This discussion-based, online course investigates the growing discipline of Disability Studies, and its sub-discipline, Disability Studies in Education.

Disability Studies proposes that “disability” is contextualized in particular social, cultural and political environments, according to the acceptable limits of human variability in that environment (in contrast to the medical model, which positions disability as a biologically-based deficit inherent in an individual). With this in mind, our inquiry will focus on how to create embracive learning environments where all students feel valued and empowered, and on strategies for removing institutionalized barriers to equity, diversity and inclusion at the policy level.

The topics explored will apply broadly to an array of marginalized groups, and the implications for educational practice overlap with that of multicultural education and social justice in education. The course will bring leadership educators up to date about this growing field of study and research within the field of education.

The course is appropriate for all practicing educators: teachers, school counselors, administrators, specialists, and school psychologists, as well as higher education faculty and graduate students in Education. 

Course Details & Registration

Dates: Monday, July 16 - Monday, August 24, Online
Instructor: Denise Herrenbruck

Week 1: History of the Disability Rights Movement
Week 2: What is Disability? Social and Cultural Models, Disability Studies in Education
Week 3: Legal Framework of Education and Special Education
Week 4: Understanding our Students: Lived experiences and Counter-Cultures
Week 5: How are we Doing? Differentiated instruction, Universal Design for Learning, Teaching Successes and Challenges
Week 6: Where Do we go from Here? The Future of Inclusion and Opportunities for Change

Graduate Continuing Education Credit: CEED-866-23, 1 semester hour, $350 (generally considered equivalent to 30 Professional Development Units for licensure requirements or salary scale advancement in education)

Continuing education credit registration form (PDF)

  • *Please note: Completed registration forms containing social security numbers and/or credit card information should not be submitted via email. If you choose to pay by credit card, please mail or fax your registration to the Center for Community Engagement, using the contact information on the right-hand side of this webpage.

As a professional learning community we will discuss the implications of these ideas for our practice as educators. Students may post contributions to each week’s asynchronous discussion forum at any time or day of the week, but should plan to participate at least three times per week as the discussion evolves.

Following this course, participants will:

  • Understand the history of the Disabilities Rights Movement, disability legislation and the emergence of Disabilities Studies as a scholarly discipline.
  • Be able to articulate key ideas from the discipline of Disabilities Studies, including disability as a social construction, and the environment as the “problem” of disability.
  • Understand how historical trends such as the Eugenics movement and the discipline of Statistics contributed to socio-cultural conceptions of “normal” and “abnormal.”
  • Assess disability narratives embedded within the school culture and legal framework for education; identify barriers to equity and inclusion.
  • Have a better awareness of lived experience and counter-cultural narratives amongst various disability groups to better understand students.
  • Identify connections between Disability Studies in Education, multicultural education and social justice education.
  • Identify instructional models for inclusive education: differentiated instruction, Universal Design for Learning and co-teaching. Contrast remedial instruction with embracive general education. Identify successes and ongoing challenges.
  • Identify opportunities for improving equity, diversity and inclusion at classroom/school level and the policy/system level, using a Disabilities Studies lens.

This is a scheduled six-week online course. Students will read from Baglieri’s text, Disability Studies and The Inclusive Classroom, and additional readings and media accessible online. Students are expected to post contributions to each week’s asynchronous discussion forum at least three times per week, but may do so at any time or day of the week from wherever they have an Internet connection.

About the Instructor 

Denise Herrenbruck has been at the forefront of fostering inclusive education, in practice and in policy, for over 35 years. After earning her Master’s degree from Teachers College, Columbia University, she began her career as a teacher, resource specialist, and special education program specialist in Berkeley California–a center of Disabilities Rights Movement activity–in the 1980s and 1990s. After moving to Portland, OR, she became an online college instructor for UCLA and USD, where she taught teacher licensure courses on inclusive practices before coming to Lewis and Clark. Denise is passionate about Disabilities Studies in Education as a liberation movement discipline that dovetails with multicultural and social justice education. She enjoys guiding students to clarify and strengthen their own passion and purpose as educators. 


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