Setting the Course


Ryerson University’s Disability Studies program offers a variety of thought-provoking courses. Here is a cross-section of courses available, some delivered on campus at Ryerson, others taught through the Internet. Course descriptions have been provided by their professors.

Perspectives on Disability I : Foundational Course
In this, our foundational course, students are introduced to core ideas that they will be exploring throughout their studies in the program. It immerses students in a highly participatory and provocative encounter with history, social theory, politics, policy, art and culture as seen through a disability lens. Course content is designed to reflect the experience of people with disabilities, highlighting both the social roots and the impacts of discrimination, exclusion and marginalization as well as responses of resistance, advocacy, empowerment and cultural liberation.
– C. Frazee, J. Sandys (Disability Studies)

Ethics and Disability
This web-based course is intended to give students more sophistication in arguing about the ethical puzzles surrounding the very notion of disability, as well as about the usual “hot button” issues (including resource allocation, genetic screening and euthanasia). The course begins by getting students to see that the choice of “model” or characterization of disability commits one to definitions that contain moral judgements, judgements which need to be unpacked and justified. It provides students with a taste of how questions about disability are becoming more central to a number of quite different philosophical traditions, such as Marxism and Virtue Ethics.
– Dr. Ken Montague (Philosophy)

Media, Images of Inequality
This upper-level course examines the way in which various groups and ideologies are represented in contemporary media culture. Students are given the opportunity to engage in discussion, via the Internet, of various examples, as well as to consider the social, political and economic forces that initially organize the production and, ultimately, interpretation of these representations. Although the course addresses the specific nature of representations of disability, students are encouraged to see how these representations are part of broader trends in contemporary media.
– Dr. Keith Hampson (Sociology)

Leadership in Human Services
This course focuses on the challenges of both leading and managing human services in an environment of rapid change. It incorporates both theoretical and highly practical elements drawn from the perspective that people supported by human services require opportunities to lead dignified lives with the means to exercise greater personal choice, control and independence. Students are exposed to multiple issues prompted by the interaction of consumer leaders, activists and managers in designing, organizing and changing services and support models for people with disabilities in the context of the broader society.
– Malcolm Jeffreys (Executive Director, Windsor Community Living)

Enabling Interventions
Students arrive at the site of “Enabling Interventions” with a sense of outrage at the barriers to community life that people with disabilities frequently experience. Students are invited to “listen keenly” to the stories that people with disabilities have told of everyday encounters with people, communities, systems and services and policies. Through focused, web-based dialogue, students use theory, experience, principles and creativity to determine an enabling response to the barriers encountered in these stories.
– Peg Jenner (Centennial College)

Perspectives on Disability II: History and Social Policy
Through the lens of history, students are urged to make connections and identify conceptual relationships between historical responses to disability and assumptions reflected in current programs, policies and services. The course is rooted in students’ day-to-day experience of policy, and moves out to a broader realization of its complexity in terms of underlying values, priorities, interests and implications. A comparative focus includes lessons from the Americans with Disabilities Act, and global realities. The question at the heart of the course is: How does society prepare for the needs of all, and not at the expense of disabled people?
– Melanie Panitch (Disability Studies)

A New Course this Spring!

Mad People’s History
This course will provide an overview of the history of madness from the point of view of people who were, and are, deemed “mad,” from ancient time to the present. The purpose of this course is to place the diverse perspectives of people who have been diagnosed as mad, insane or mentally ill as being of central importance in the history of psychiatry, and to address the question: how has madness been viewed by mad people over the centuries?
– Dr. Geoffrey Reaume

For information on how to register for “Mad People’s History,” contact Continuing Education at Ryerson at (416) 979-5035 or (refer to course: CDST 503), or visit


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