PhD

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The PhD (Critical Disability Studies), which is a pioneer in Canada, offers a comprehensive curriculum covering major scholarly perspectives.

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.

In particular, the program provides graduates with the ability to:

  • critically understand existing policies and practices relating to disability, as well as Canadian and international laws and instruments governing human rights and protections for people with disabilities;
  • situate key debates in disability studies in both historical and contemporary contexts, including understanding how issues relating to disability are interpreted and advanced in both an academic setting and in public and private policy and programming;
  • recognize the importance of race, poverty, gender, sexuality and class issues as they intersect with disability;
  • influence public policy at federal, provincial and local levels and contribute to movements for social justice and human rights;
  • contribute to an evidence-based body of knowledge on people with disabilities at the international, national and local level in the health, education, social policy and legal sectors;
  • apply qualitative and quantitative research skills to policy research and longitudinal studies.

Human Rights and Social Justice

This field discusses the key philosophical, historical and legal concepts surrounding the development and implementation of ideas and policies pertaining to human rights and social justice.

This includes international and national human rights standards as well as cross-cultural interpretations of what is meant by social justice and legal rights obligations. The broadest understanding of what is meant by human rights and social justice is considered within the context of their applicability to people with disabilities.

This field also examines diversity pertaining to cross-cultural, class, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, age and poverty issues as they relate to disability. In particular, there is a focus on how wider diversity issues in society reflect experiences of people with disabilities and how equity struggles within a diverse society inter-connect with one another.

Diversity is therefore considered in the context of broad socio-economic factors as well as how diversity is expressed and experienced within the disability community itself.

Critical Theory

This field discusses key critical concepts and texts both within disability studies as well as articulated by post-modernism, Marxism, racial formation theory, queer theory, and feminist theories, among others, which have significantly influenced disability studies.

Social Policy

This field examines social policies affecting disability and equity issues within a Canadian context, while also considering international developments in regard to their impact on national, regional and local policies affecting people with disabilities.

The impact of grass roots organizing and activism is also included as an important area of study, in regard to how disability advocacy has influenced the development of social policies at different times and places both historically and in contemporary society.