Our program contributes to emerging research examining the systemic barriers to the full societal inclusion of persons with disabilities.

The Graduate Program in Critical Disability Studies offers courses, research and professional training leading to an MA and PhD.

The MA program takes an interdisciplinary approach informed by various academic fields including law, anthropology, health studies, history, geography, economics, education, labour studies, political science, social work, sociology, identity politics, gender studies, and refugee and immigration studies. Theories of human rights form the basis for understanding how existing legal, economic and social rationales for inclusion relate to systemic barriers and oppression.

The program is offered full or part-time to students from a variety of backgrounds, including persons with disabilities engaged in the disability rights movement, government bureaucrats, professionals in the field of disability and people working in non-governmental organizations such as community organizations and advocacy groups.

You’ll have the opportunity to attend refereed conferences, publish in refereed journals and produce op-ed pieces right from your first year.

The PhD, a pioneering program in Canada, offers a comprehensive curriculum covering major scholarly perspectives. It is offered on a full-time basis only.

The program structure and environment encourages advanced research, new scholarship and other opportunities to contribute to the field, enabling a multi-disciplinary group of students to explore disability from a critical perspective in relation to social policy, social justice, human rights issues, and social movements in Canada and internationally.

Important Dates, Deadlines & Upcoming Events

The conference will be hosted on Saturday, February 10th, 2018 at the Rotman School of Management.
Register now at accesstosuccess.ca   Student rates are available at $15.00
Contact Person: Nikitha Ramesh nikitha.ramesh18@rotman.utoronto.ca

Call for abstracts and films. The Critical Disability Studies Student's Association (CDSSA) 12th Annual Conference will be held on  April 28th 2018. This year we will be adding a Film Festival Component called DIFF (Disability Inclusion Film Festival) to the day's festivities.

The theme for this year's conference is Disruption. The idea behind this theme is to speak to Critical Disability Studies breaking down the white hetero-patriarchal abliest and sanist paradigms and systems that are present in our world in an unapologetic way.

Please send abstracts and film links be sent to CDSSA@YUGSA.ca by February 15th. Attached to this email and below the signature(incase the attachment can't be opened for some reason) are the details for submission guidelines.

Several Critical Disability Studies graduates have worked on supporting a new documentary called “The Pandemic of Denial” which explores the chronic pain crisis in North America and shares the stories of the often unheard voices of pain patients who are abandoned by both society and the medical system. The documentary is expected to be released in Spring of 2018.

Invitation for all graduate students - including in Critical Disability Studies in the School of Health Policy and Management, Faculty of Health.

The Faculty of Graduate Studies will be hosting a Graduate Student Social.

Date: Tuesday, 4th September 2018

Time: 12pm to 2pm (pizza lunch will be served)

Location: Scott Libary, 2nd Floor, Collaboratory

Current News & Announcements

Congratulations to Alexis Buettgen who defended her Doctoral Dissertation From the Standpoint of People with Disabilities: An Institutional Analysis of Work in the Non-profit Sector on 6th February 2018. This is the culmination of many years of dedicated and hard-work as a PhD student in the Critical Disability Studies graduate program. Well done Alexis!

Congratulations to Charles Anyinam who defended his Doctoral Dissertation Work Experience of Nurses with Self-Identified Disabilities on 29th January 2018. Charles is an accomplished registered nurse and educator with extensive teaching experience in nursing at the baccalaureate level. He has served in academic administrative leadership and made contributions to faculty governance. His recognition includes the 2013 Registered Nurses Association of Ontario’s (RNAO) Leadership Award in Nursing Education, and the Dean's Teaching Award (Early Career), York University's Faculty of Health, 2009. Great work Charles and well deserved!

Congratulations to PhD Candidate in the Critical Disability Studies graduate program, Douglas Waxman, who was recently elected President of the Board of ARCH Disability Law Centre.

Call for Papers: Disability (In)Justice: Examining Criminalization in Canada

Edited by Kelly Fritsch, Jeffrey Monaghan, and Emily van der Meulen

Disability (In)Justice explores how disability is central to practices of criminalization in Canada. Weaving together interdisciplinary scholarship across the fields of criminology, disability studies, law, and socio-legal studies, this edited collection will examine disability in relation to various agencies and aspects of the criminal justice system, including surveillance and policing, sentencing and the courts, prisons and other carceral spaces, and alternatives to confinement.

Situated as an upper-level undergraduate course reader to be published by a Canadian university press, this collection will be comprised of chapters by subject-area experts, organized into three thematic sections: (1) Practices of Criminalization; (2) The Justice System; and (3) Alternative Approaches. Chapters will address how disability intersects with race, class, gender, and/or sexuality to perpetuate oppression and discrimination within the criminal justice system, with particular attention to ways forward for disability justice. As most research on disability and criminal justice focuses on issues related to mental health and/or intellectual disabilities, we are especially interested to engage submissions that consider a broad range of disabilities.

We are soliciting chapters that fit in one of the three thematic sections on the following topics:

  • Histories of social control, eugenics, and the sterilization of disabled people in Canada;
  • Surveillance of disabled people by criminal justice agents and agencies;
  • Critiques of criminalization from a disability rights or critical disability perspective, looking specifically at sex work, drug use, or other related topics;
  • Disabled peoples’ access to accommodations within the criminal justice system, for example in the courts or in prisons;
  • Criminalization of disabled people in relation to neoliberal policies or practices;
  • De-policing strategies and alternatives to incarceration, including prison abolition, as a form of disability activism;
  • Disability justice in practice.

Confirmed contributors include:

  • Tobin LeBlanc Haley, Ethel Louise Armstrong Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Disability Studies at Ryerson University, writing on how transinstitutionalization is being experienced within and across the Mad, Deaf, and Disability communities;
  • Richard Jochelson, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Manitoba, and Michelle Bertrand, Associate Professor in Criminal Justice at the University of Winnipeg, writing on disability and jury representativeness;
  • Ravi Malhotra, Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa, writing on assisted suicide/dying;
  • Alexander McClelland, doctoral student with the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Society and Culture at Concordia University, writing on the criminalization of HIV non-disclosure, exposure, and transmission;
  • Alok Mukherjee, Distinguished Visiting Professor at Ryerson University and former Chair of the Toronto Police Services Board, writing on mental health and policing;
  • Megan Rusciano, disability rights attorney, writing on disability and solitary confinement.

If you are interested in contributing, please send a preliminary chapter title, 300-500 word chapter abstract, and a 100 word author bio to kellyfritsch@gmail.com by March 1, 2018. Full chapter drafts of approximately 6,000-8,000 words will be due January 15, 2019.

About the Editors

Kelly Fritsch is a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow at the Women & Gender Studies Institute, University of Toronto. As of July 2018, Fritsch will be an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University. Her research broadly engages crip, queer, and feminist theory to explore the politics of disability, health, technology, risk, and accessibility. Fritsch is co-editor of Keywords for Radicals: The Contested Vocabulary of Late-Capitalist Struggle (AK Press, 2016 with Clare O’Connor and AK Thompson).

Jeffrey Monaghan is an Assistant Professor at Carleton’s Institute for Criminology and Criminal Justice. He is author of Security Aid: Canada and the Development Regime of Security (University of Toronto Press, 2017) and Policing Indigenous Movements: Dissent and the Security State (Fernwood, 2018 with Andrew Crosby). His research examines practices of security governance, policing, and surveillance.

Emily van der Meulen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Criminology at Ryerson University. She conducts participatory research in the areas of critical and feminist criminology, socio-legal studies, prison harm reduction, and surveillance studies. She is (co-)editor of five books, including Red Light Labour: Sex Work Regulation, Agency, and Resistance (University of British Columbia Press, 2018 with Elya M. Durisin and Chris Bruckert), and Expanding the Gaze: Gender and the Politics of Surveillance (University of Toronto Press, 2016 with Robert Heynen).

Recent Publications & Awards

OCGS Review Results

We are pleased to announce that the Ontario Council on Graduate Studies (OCGS) has approved the recommendation of the Appraisal Committee that our MA/PhD program be classified as Good Quality - the best possible rating bestowed by OCGS!

Congratulations to PhD student in Critical Disability Studies, Michelle Shelley who has been awarded the Penelope Jane Glasser Graduate Award for $8,000. The scholarship assists York students returning to university from a work or family career, who are pursuing a graduate degree in interdisciplinary studies or in interdisciplinary fields such as education, social work or women's studies.  Students must also have a minimum A average grade and be a full-time student. This is terrific news for Michelle!

Congratulations to PhD student in Critical Disability Studies, Sukaina Dada as the 2017 Award Recipient for SMILE Canada at the recent City of Toronto Access Award ceremony. Sukaina had an opportunity to be honoured by Toronto Mayor John Tory at the event, and also address the crowd by speaking at the event.


Congratulations to PhD student in Critical Disability Studies, Douglas Waxman for his recent book chapter 5, Model of Successful Corporate Culture Change Integrating Employees with Disabilities, in Volume 10, Factors in Studying Employment for Persons with Disability: How the Picture Can Change, as part of the book series: Research in Social Science and Disability.

PhD Candidate in Critical Disability Studies, Yvonne Simpson

We are delighted to announce PhD student in Critical Disability Studies, Yvonne Simpson  is awarded a Nathanson Graduate Fellowship for the 2017-18 academic year, funded by the endowment fund of the Nathanson Centre on Transnational Human Rights, Crime and Security. Nathanson Graduate Fellowships are awarded annually to high-achieving graduate students undertaking excellent research related to the Centre's mandate. This year, the amount of the fellowshipfor PhD candidates is $10,000.

Nathanson Fellows are expected to participate actively in all collegial activities of the
Centre, in line with their research interest and further training for possible careers in the
academy. From time to time, they are also offered opportunities to volunteer their time and ideas in ways that contribute to the endeavours of the Centre and its associate researchers. To keep abreast of the activities of the Centre, you are invited to consult regularly the Jack & Mae Nathanson Centre website on Transnational Human Rights, Crime and Security.

Congratulations to PhD student in Critical Disability Studies,  Estée Klar-Wolfond for winning a SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) award for her doctoral research titled Enacting intra-ethnography for inclusive autism pedagogy.

Estée Klar-Wolfond, PhD Candidate

Congratulations to PhD student in Critical Disability Studies, Tracy Mack for winning a SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) award for her doctoral research entitled Reforming Policies? Coroner's Inquests and Psychiatrized Individuals.

Tracy Mack, PhD Candidate

Tammy Bernasky and JoAnn Purcell, PhD students in Critical Disability Studies have been awarded an Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS). The OGS is awarded to eligible students who pursue graduate studies in order to complete a Master's degree, PhD or Doctorate at a university in Ontario who maintains a minimum academic standard of an "A-" or 80% average over two years of study.

Tammy Bernasky, PhD Candidate

JoAnn Purcell, PhD Candidate

Congratulations Tammy and JoAnn on your identified skills and academic ability!


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