Marginalized in Academia: A Guide to Disability Studies: Home

An introductory guide for getting started with disability studies

What is Disability Studies?

Disability Studies is a term used to describe interdisciplinary studies into the experience of disability. Information from the humanities, sciences, and social sciences are gathered to create a more comprehensive understanding of disability as a subject and as a human experience. The primary goal of the subject is to explore disability in an academic manner apart from clinical research. 

Critical Disability Studies is also commonly used term referring to the same subject.


Disability Studies research is challenging, especially for an inexperienced researcher. This guide is intended to make resources more readily available and easier to navigate. It is also meant to provide an introduction to disability studies for anyone new and looking to learn about the subject.

Why Does It Matter?

According to the CDC, roughly 1 in 4 American adults experience disability, yet for most of modern academics, disability has only been studied in a clinical, medical research-driven manner. This approach ignores the human experiences and emotions that accompany disability as a culture, which deserves to have an equal footing among other social cultures in academics.

While GVSU does not currently have a Disability Studies program, many resources are available to students who wish to explore the subject in more detail. 

Getting Started With Research

There are few databases that expressly cater to disability studies research, yet many have resources that are accessible with an understanding of keywords that may not be commonly used in our everyday language. For example, using historical language like "handicapped," "mad," "mental retardation," or "crippled" in your search terms may yield more results than "disabled."

See the University of Minnesota terminology guide for terminology related to specific topics or theories within disability studies. 

See below for databases, journals, and repositories with disability studies resources:


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Leigh Rupinski
Seidman House
(616) 331-8726
Subjects: History
  • Last Updated: Apr 13, 2023 8:31 AM
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