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Updated 10:00 AM April 4, 2005




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Conference to inaugurate disability studies initiative

A drive to integrate the study of disability into other fields of academia such as research and teaching will be boosted this week by a conference inaugurating the U-M Initiative in Disability Studies (UMInDS).

The conference will feature a panel discussion on current disability issues and will touch on topics such as eugenics, Medicare and disability pertaining to minorities. Panelists include Martin Pernick, U-M professor of history; Catherine Kudlick, University of California professor of history; and Ro Anne Chaney of the Michigan Disability Rights Coalition.

The conference, 1-6 p.m. April 8 in the Vandenberg Room of the Michigan League, is free and open to the public. Keynote speaker Rosemarie Garlan-Thomson, Emory University associate professor of women's studies, will address disability and the female form at 4 p.m.

"UMInDS exists to give a perspective on disability studies to the academic community," says Tobin Siebers, chair of the UMInDS Steering Committee and co-instructor of UMInDS' course in disability studies. "It changes the way we think about a subject in medical school, about legal issues, about the way we look at poetry."

UMInDS combines several opportunities for researchers and students of disability studies. The graduate course, which is designed to introduce disability advocacy and awareness to students, is scheduled to run through winter 2006.

In addition, UMInDS offers research opportunities such as the Michael Erik Myatt Distinguished Dissertation Award, mini-grants for researchers, and an internship program with the United Nations in which students study statistical data on disability.

As part of the initiative, the committee will seek to create a disability studies concentration. "Our big objective is in moving towards it being a degree-granting program—that's the big goal," Siebers says. "And we have a number of years to move in that direction."

U-M faculty and students featured at the conference will have an opportunity to present research findings and interdisciplinary work during the event's poster presentations. Students from the graduate course on disability studies and other fields of study will present findings gathered from interdisciplinary research work on disability.

For more information, contact Katie Abdou at (734) 763-3585.

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