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“Habitable Worlds” presentation by Rosemarie Garland-Thomson at the Critical Disability Studies Symposium.

Critical Disability Studies

A minor in Critical Disability Studies enhances students’ educational experience at Purdue by bringing received ideas about the body under critical scrutiny; by deepening students’ understanding of how social and political categories affect individual human beings and our common life; by expanding students’ exposure to diverse groups of people; and by readying them to interact with all sorts of people in our global economy. After leaving Purdue, students with training in critical disability studies will be ready to help create workplaces that can accommodate the great variety of human beings who live on our planet and make the most of their heterogeneous talents.

Critical Disability Studies Fall Lecture Series

Fall 2023: Aimi Hamraie, author of Building Access (University of Minnesota Press, 2017) and Director of the Critical Design Lab, presented "Critical Access Studies," on Thursday, October 26 at 5:00 pm via Zoom.

Fall 2022:  La Marr Jurelle Bruce, author of How to Go Mad Without Losing Your Mind: Madness and Black Radical Creativity (Duke, 2021), presented "Black Nonsense; or, Some Mad Black Rants," on Thursday, October 13 at 5:00 pm in GRIS 103.

Fall 2021:  Susan Burch, author of Committed: Remembering Native Kinship in and beyond Institutions, spoke on Thursday, October 14 at 5:00 pm in WALC 2051.


Many Purdue students report that they never considered disability as an aspect of diversity or identity before they took a class in critical disability studies. The Critical Disability Studies minor demonstrates to students and the larger Purdue community that disability is political, social, and cultural, and a key aspect of our multi-issue lives (with apologies to Audre Lorde, who pointed out that we do not live single-issue lives).

Here are some representative student comments about previous classes in critical disability studies:

  • “This class has completely changed the way I view disability in literature and in life!”

  • “This course has been one of those rare types of courses that truly challenge and change the way you think. The materials (theory and literature readings) combined with the discussion have enhanced my understanding of how disability is discussed, written about, portrayed, and construed beyond what I could have imagined when I signed up for the class.”

  • “I have learned so much that is applicable outside of the classroom! This is a class I will remember for years and years!”

And here are two student comments from before we had a minor in critical disability studies:

  • “I think a minor/major in disability studies would be an amazing contribution to Purdue University. I think EVERYONE at Purdue should have to take this class.”

  • “Critical disability studies is such an important field and has so much to offer undergraduate students in any major. It is wonderful to listen to my peers openly discuss how much this class changed their views on disability. Although this was an English class, many of my peers belonged to other majors. The diverse majors represented in this disability studies course demonstrate how relevant this field is to a large number of undergraduates. More students need the opportunity to take disability studies courses and expand their knowledge of disability.”