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Disability

Building a Better Future World: Disability

Disability, accessibility rights, and a consideration of whose voices are being included in policy decisions affecting our society are just a few of the issues that confront us today. Is equity for all possible or is it a figment of our imagination? In Building a Better Future World: Disability, students will develop a strong foundation for success at KU and beyond, while exploring how their engagement with disability studies moves us towards building a better future world. Students will explore strategies and solutions, and wrestle with the question, can we really make a difference?

AMS 100 - Introduction to American Studies
Ray Pence, American Studies

Fulfills Goal 4 Outcome 1 (AE41), Goal 3 Arts and Humanities (GE3H), 3 credit hours

Disability and people with disabilities have always been important to cultural, historical, and social knowledge of the United States. Their significance, however, only recently became a topic of widespread interest in the humanities and social sciences. The disability rights movement, which started in the 1970s and continues today, was a major force in fostering pride and awareness among people with disabilities. One result of this progress is the field of disability studies, which is brought together with American studies in our introductory course.

AMS 100 takes students on a public, multi-disciplinary, action-oriented intellectual journey through vital areas. These areas include: the emergence and development of American studies and disability studies; the foundations of these fields in social movements; and, the relationships among disability, race, gender, sexuality, class, and cultures in the United States, and in a global context.

Lecturer Ray Pence

Ray Mizumura-Pence (Ph.D., American Studies, University of Kansas 2006) has worked at the crossroads of American studies and disability studies for almost two decades. Starting in 1998, during course work at KU, Ray decided that the cultural and social history of disability should be central to his professional identity. Since then, Ray has joined allies and advocates at KU, in Lawrence, and elsewhere to promote disability studies and disability rights activism. His published work appears in book chapters, in academic journals, and in reference works. Currently he is at work on two books, one of which is about military veterans with disabilities, and another that looks at how the late comic Richard Pryor lived with multiple sclerosis. Ray has taught in universities since 1994, receiving awards for his service as an instructor in 2008 and 2011 at KU. In 2013, Ray founded the Disability Studies Seminar at the Hall Center for the Humanities at KU and is a co-director for that event. He also has participated in commemorations of the Americans with Disabilities Act in Lawrence, in 2010 and 2015.


UNIV 101 - University Seminar
Andrew Shoemaker, Director of Academic Achievement and Access Center (AAAC)

2 credit hours

UNIV 101 helps students make a smooth transition to KU and provides an important foundation to their academic studies. This two-credit hour seminar is small, enrolling about 19 students. In addition to addressing issues concerning individuals with disabilities in society today, by being a part of the Building a Better Future World: Disability learning community, you will know campus better, will more fully understand your individual and team strengths, will practice and develop critical thinking skills, will learn about information literacy and research, and will gain memorable experiences.

Andrew Shoemaker is the Director of the Academic Achievement and Access Center (AAAC) at KU. He has a Master’s Degree in Education with a focus on Higher Education and Disability. He started at KU as a Learning Disabilities Specialist and has worked with college students with disabilities for almost 20 years. A strong proponent of the social model of disability, Andrew is excited to offer a Learning Community in an area that he is so passionate about.


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