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Practicing Disability Studies in Education

Acting Toward Social Change


Edited By David J. Connor, Jan W. Valle and Chris Hale

Practicing Disability Studies in Education: Acting Toward Social Change celebrates the diversity of contemporary work being developed by a range of scholars working within the field of Disability Studies in Education (DSE). The central idea of this volume is to share ways in which educators practice DSE in creative and eclectic ways in order to rethink, reframe, and reshape the current educational response to disability. Largely confined to the limitations of traditional educational discourse, this collective (and growing) group continues to push limits, break molds, assert the need for plurality, explore possibilities, move into the unknown, take chances, strategize to destabilize, and co-create new visions for what can be, instead of settling for what is. Much like jazz musicians who rely upon one another on stage to create music collectively, these featured scholars have been – and continue to – riff with one another in creating the growing body of DSE literature. In sum, this volume is DSE «at work.»
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8. Why We Do What We (Think We) Do: Creating a Campus Coalition From the Perspective of Disability Studies in Education



At Ghent University (Belgium) within the Department of Special Education, a group of researchers is united under the banner of Disability Studies in Education (DSE) (Van Hove et al., 2008). Since 1999, this group has been trying to build an environment in which DSE is more than just a theoretical framework, a way of thinking, or a topic of class discussion. We are becoming a “network group” with strong connections to people whose lived experiences reflect the kinds of concerns addressed by DSE scholars. At the same time, we are looking at how to work with our network companions in research, education, and service to the community. It is clear that such an agenda cannot be accomplished overnight and requires the development of strong partnerships. Over the past 15 years, our coalition with network companions—the self-advocacy movement Onze Nieuwe Toekomst (Our New Future),1 the parents’ association Ouders voor Inclusie (Parents for Inclusion), and Steunpunt Inclusief Hoger Onderwijs (Expertise Centre for Students with Disabilities in Higher Education Institutions)—has developed naturally into an embedded structure at the university and is considered pivotal to our overarching agenda.

About the Campus Coalition

A parent who is a member of our campus coalition described it as follows:

“the Disability Studies group at Ghent University can be compared to a table around which organisations that have common interests are given the opportunity ← 141 | 142 → to sit...

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