Disability Studies Minor

The Disability Studies minor is an interdisciplinary program intended to educate students about the historical, social, and legal circumstances that shape the experience of disability. It features an interdisciplinary curriculum that incorporates courses across NYU in the humanities; social sciences; communication; education; engineering; medical ethics; and the arts. Students will learn the tenets and history of the disability rights movement, comparative global perspectives on disability, critical theories in the field of Disability Studies, principles of accessibility, and other skills to build leadership in creating a more just and inclusive society.

Disability Studies understands disability in relation to other aspects of the human experience, including inequality, violence, and social movements; gender, race, and sexuality; media representations and practices; technology and design; arts access; and psychology and stigma. The field recognizes that disability is not a matter of discrete impairments, but rather an opportunity for coalition or identification. The field emphasizes the social shaping of disability through injustice and discrimination, biomedical and cultural norms, and legal or architectural barriers that prevent access to education, housing, employment, and transportation. The minor will educate students about the under-recognized history of eugenic prejudice as well as the work of activists to change laws and social worlds.

Curriculum and Course Requirements

In order to complete the minor in Disability Studies, students must take 16 credits. The program of study typically consists of four classes: one core course in Disability Studies and three electives. Students do not need to take the core course first, but they must receive a B- or higher in the class. Core courses may count as electives for students who complete more than one core. 

Core Course in Disability Studies

Currently three schools offer courses that meet this requirement on an alternating annual basis, so that one of the required courses will be taught every year. Choose from one of the following courses:

MCC-UE 1026: Disability, Technology and Media
(Taught by Mara Mills, NYU Steinhardt)
This course examines the significance of technology to the definition and experience of disability; the relationship between disability and the development of new media; the politics of representation; and current debates between the fields of disability studies and media studies. Specific topics will include: biomedical technology and the establishment of norms; the category of “assistive technology;” cyborgs and prostheses as fact and as metaphor; inclusive architecture and design; visual rhetorics of disability in film and photography; staring and other practices of looking; medical and counter-medical performance; media advocacy, tactical media, and direct action. (4 credits)

CAM-UY 2204: Disability Studies
(Taught by Allan Goldstein, NYU Tandon)
This course introduces students to disability history, assistive technology and universal design, dynamically engaging students in the world of disability with project-based experiential learning. As a member of a team including a guest consultant with a disability, students will explore that person's interests, abilities, and desires and portray them with documentary or narrative digital storytelling. This active learning approach, carefully guided by the instructor, is supported with readings, guest lectures, videos and field trips that help students further understand the largest minority in the world. The end-of-semester is celebrated with a formal presentation of the person-centered digital projects, making the invisible visible. (4 credits)

ANTH-UA 113: Disability Worlds: Anthropological Perspectives
(Taught by Faye Ginsburg and Rayna Rapp, NYU College of Arts & Science)
This course examines the genealogy of disability as a topic in anthropology and related disciplines in the social sciences and humanities, exploring the relationship of such work to disability studies and activism. Ethnographic studies will be central to the class, stressing the significance of disability for theorizing human difference and across cultures. The course will also incorporate guest lectures, films, performance and relevant off-site activities in NYC. (4 credits)


The remaining 12 credits for the minor can be drawn from the following disability-related courses. Please check Albert and departmental websites for each course's availability by semester, meeting times, and prerequisites. Consult with your academic advisor on how these electives can count toward your major. Please note: no more than 8 credits can be completed in a single department. New electives may be added to the list below by petition to the steering committee; please submit a full syllabus to the committee members listed in the sidebar.



Image credit: Axis Dance Company/NYU Skirball