Minor in Interdisciplinary Disability Studies

The Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies (CCIDS), Maine’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Service (UCEDD), in conjunction with faculty representatives from 14 academic departments at the University of Maine, offers a Minor in Interdisciplinary Disability Studies. The Interdisciplinary Disability Studies curriculum provides students a means to explore disability within the larger context of diversity and to examine professional practice, scholarship and policy related to persons with disabilities.

The minor consists of 24 credits distributed among elective courses in three categories: social change, diversity studies, and environmental context; and three core interdisciplinary courses taught by faculty with expertise in disability studies. Students declare this minor in addition to their major field of study.

The components of the minor are a common core of three DIS courses and electives in three categories of study.

Required Core DIS courses (9 credits):

Electives (15 credits):

The coursework provides students with an appreciation of the many factors that affect human diversity, and how their disciplines and disability studies can reciprocally inform one another.

View or download the Minor in Interdisciplinary Disability Studies flyer (PDF) here.


Elizabeth DePoy, Ph.D., IDS Professor
Stephen F. Gilson, Ph.D., IDS Coordinator and Professor

Who might be interested in the Minor in Interdisciplinary Disability Studies?

Students throughout the university should consider enrolling in the Minor in Interdisciplinary Disability Studies. The purpose of the Minor is to examine disability as a critical element of human diversity and provide the theory and practice for fashioning universal access to our communities and resources for all people including those with disabilities.

Here are just a few examples of student interest from diverse disciplinary fields:

  • An engineering student interested in crafting sporting equipment for adaptive kayaking and canoeing;
  • An art history student examining the changes in depiction of people with disabilities in painting;
  • A journalism student interested in advancing equal opportunity for disabled workers through writing in community newspapers;
  • An education major interested in full inclusion of students with disabilities in public education;
  • A social work student interested in advocating for civil rights for marginalized populations including people with disabilities;
  • A psychology major interested in studying child development in youth with disabilities;
  • An English major interested in the depiction of disabled people in contemporary literature;
  • A new media student interested in studying universal web access;
  • A musician interested in studying alternative ways to perform to audiences who cannot hear.

Who offers the Minor?

The Minor in Interdisciplinary Disability Studies is offered through the Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies and administered through the University of Maine Office of Student Records.

The Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies is Maine’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Service (UCEDD), a partnership of people bringing together the resources of the community and the university to enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities and their families. As agents for social change, we believe in self-determination and advocacy for people with disabilities, and we are committed to community inclusion, interdependence, and the recognition of each person’s ability to contribute to society.

The Center’s Interdisciplinary Disability Studies Academic Committee (IDSAC) is the governing board for the Minor in Interdisciplinary Disability Studies. The IDSAC includes faculty members from Art, Child Development/Family Relations, Communication Disorders, Elementary Education, Engineering, English, Human Development, Kinesiology and Physical Education, Music, Nursing, New Media, Public Administration, Psychology, Social Work, and Sociology.

Enrollment Procedures:

  • Student discusses intent to pursue the Minor with his/her departmental advisor.
  • Student and Interdisciplinary Disability Studies Coordinator complete the Undergraduate Minor Plan of Study (Appendix A).
  • Student completes a University of Maine change of Program/Plan form and receives approval from his/her departmental advisor and the Interdisciplinary Disability Studies Coordinator to enter the Minor program.
  • Interdisciplinary Disability Studies Coordinator registers student for the Minor in Interdisciplinary Disability Studies.

Download Appendix A – Undergraduate Minor Plan of Study (PDF) here.

Download the University of Maine Change of Program/Plan form from the Office of Student Records website. Choose “College/Major/Minor/Concentration” from the list of forms.

Interdisciplinary Disability Studies Course Descriptions:

DIS 300: Disability: Interaction of Human Diversity and Global Environments

This course is designed to introduce the student to disability as an element of human diversity that has a significant reciprocal relationship with the environment. We begin by discussing prevalence and incidence of disability across the globe, examine the historical changes in concepts of disability over time, and then study disability as a human phenomenon which both emerges from and influences biological, economic, physical, social, political, spiritual, cultural, technological and virtual environments. Credits: 3

Satisfies the General Education requirements: Population & Environment, and Cultural Diversity & International Perspectives.

Prerequisites: None

DIS 400—Disability as Diversity I

This course examines disability history, theory and current thinking in the field of disability studies. Through interdisciplinary interchange and experiential learning, students will explore the lived experience of people with disabilities and their families across the lifespan, examine and debate ethical dilemmas related to disability, and analyze implicit disability-related values reflected in diverse academic and professional fields. Students will apply their learning to their own disciplines. Credits: 3

Satisfies the General Education Ethics Requirement and General Education Cultural Diversity and International Perspectives Requirement.

Prerequisites: None

DIS 450: Disability: Population-Environment Diversity

Consistent with contemporary literature and research in the interdisciplinary field of disability studies, students will examine and analyze disability as an interactive disjuncture between the environment, the human body and population groups. Students will analyze how environments shape and are shaped by disability and will focus on realigning bodies, populations, and environments to advance full participation, reduce personal and environmental harm, and preserve just and safe environments. Included will be natural, virtual, service, economic, social, policy, and community environments across the globe. Credits: 3

Satisfies the General Education Population & Environment Requirement and General Education Ethics Requirement.

Prerequisites: None

DIS 480 Independent Project in Disability Studies

Individual work on a topic or problem selected by the student. Primarily for students in the Interdisciplinary Concentration in Disability Studies. Credits: 1-6

Prerequisite: DIS 400 or by permission of instructor.

DIS 490 Selected Topics in Interdisciplinary Disability Studies

Faculty and students identify and work on selected topics and/or problems related to the area of disability. Focuses on related literature, research, services/supports and materials. Credits: 1-6

Grading Policy:

Minimum cumulative GPA required to earn minor: 2.0.

Minimum grade requirements for courses to count toward minor: a grade of “C” or better in all Interdisciplinary Disability Studies core courses (minimum 9 credits, DIS 300, DIS 400, and DIS 450).

Other GPA requirements to earn minor:

Cumulative GPA of 2.0 in all Interdisciplinary Disability Studies Minor courses taken.


For more information, please contact Dr. Stephen F. Gilson, Coordinator and Professor of Interdisciplinary Disability Studies at 207.581.1263 or email: stephen.f.gilson@maine.edu