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


Current News & Announcements

PhD candidate Natalie Spagnuolo is currently co-directing a documentary film and workshop series with institutional survivors. This project received funding through the Huronia Class Action Lawsuit after being selected by a committee that included survivors of Ontario's institutions for people labeled with intellectual disabilities.


(Photo Credit B. Anne Jackson - From left to right: Cameron Wells, host of Hand-Link; graduate students Ann Jackson, Sukaina Dada, Scott White, Russell Rozinskis; Professor Marcia Rioux; graduate student Michelle Shelley)

Several graduate students and Professor Emerita Marcia Rioux in the Critical Disability Studies graduate program were interviewed about the graduate program for an upcoming broadcast on Handi-Link, hosted by Cameron Wells. Several Handi-Link episodes can be found in the Social Media section of our Critical Disability Studies website.


Recent Publications & Awards

  1. Jackson, Kim & davis halifax, v. (2018). Service restriction: making homelessness harder. In Michelle Owen, Janice Ristock, Diane Hiebert-Murphy (Eds.) Not a new problem: Violence in the lives of women with disabilities. Fernwood.
  2. davis halifax, v. (2018) “    :     a charm” and “uncalculable.” poetry. Room, 41:4: 20-21, 105.

CDS PhD candidate, Natalie Spagnuolo also has a chapter in the Owens book co-written with Josée Boulanger: An “Unconscious Terrain of Habits”: Structural Violence Against Women Who Labelled with Intellectual Disabilities.


Congratulations to Associate Professor Geoffrey Reaume in Critical Disability Studies, School of Health Policy & Management for recent publications:

The Place of Mad People and Disabled People in Canadian Historiography: Surveys, Biographies, and Specialized Fields

Posthumous Exploitation? The Ethics of Researching, Writing and Being Accountable as a Disability Historian (No link available)

Book review of Theodore Jun Yoo: It's Madness: The Politics of Mental Health in Colonial Korea


Congratulations to Associate Professor and former Graduate Program Director in Critical Disability Studies, nancy viva davis halifax, and previous graduate student in Critical Disability Studies, Jen Rinaldi (PhD 2013), along with co-authors David Fancy, Kate Rossiter and Alex Tigchelaar for their publication Recounting Huronia Faithfully: Attenuating Our Methodology to the "Fabulation" of Truths-Telling


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