A minor in disability studies will significantly support your academic and career aspirations.  We are the first program of its kind at Rutgers University and one of only a few in the nation.

Disability Studies is a field for and by people with disabilities.  Students in the minor understand disability and impairment as an essential component of the human experience, troubling outcome of power, and important feature of coalition building— a position shaped by ongoing intersections with age, race, gender, ethnicity, language, im/migration, nationality, class, and social power.  

We offer students opportunities for practical skill-building techniques in participatory (universal) design and community organizing along with pathways to explore how cultural ideals, policies, and perceptions about ability and disability influence the aims of transformative justice, equity, and inclusion.  Many of our courses count toward the required General Education Curriculum.

Learn More

You can explore the course and career options below or contact Disabilitystudies.minor@newark.rutgers.edu.

Program Details



There are two required courses for the minor:

1. Disability Studies (21:988:306/21:300:306; 3 credits)*

In this course students learn about how to approach the study of disability from a critical perspective.  We will learn to understand disability not as a deficit but as identities, communities, and as a basis for seeking justice in an ableist world.  By placing disability in an intersectional perspective we will examine how disability relates to systems of racism, incarceration, settler colonialism, capitalism, gender, sex and sexuality.  The class will give students an understanding of some of the core concepts in the field, including disability, ableism, normate, crip, disability justice, accessibility, amongst others.  The course will highlight not only systems of oppression and exploitation but also resistance, activism and disability cultures.  It will examine disability histories as well as the current cutting edge in disability studies, disability cultures, and disability movements.

2. Inclusive and Social Justice Pedagogies (21:300:230; 3 credits)*

This course introduces students to a critical, interdisciplinary analysis of inclusive (special) education in American schooling K-16, broadly conceived.  Students will review topical issues in schools including special education classification, suspension and expulsion policies, restorative justice, post-secondary transition, and participatory (universal) design for learning.  The course draws from legal theory, philosophy, public policy, and history to create a professional position that is justice-oriented, anti-oppressive, culturally and linguistically sustaining, race-conscious, and disability positive.  Particular attention will be paid to students labeled with an educational disability who are multiply-minoritized. The course is centered around the presumption of competence and aspirational, cultural, and linguistic wealth.

The remaining credits can be completed by selecting any of the following courses for your program of study.  Students must complete 18 total credits to graduate with the minor in consultation with the minor advisor.   

  • Decarcerating Disability and Education (21:300:305; 3 credits)*
  • Educational Planning for Dually Exceptional Students (21:300:298; 3 credits)*
  • Social Foundations in Urban Education (21:300:292; 3 credits)*
  • History of Newark (21:512:203; 3 credits)
  • Health Disparities: Implications in Urban Communities (21:300:301; 3 credits)
  • Urban Sociology (21:920:321; 3 credits)
  • Universal Design for Learning and Trauma-Informed, Healing Centered Practice (Currently under review, anticipated approval for Fall 2023)
  • Disability Law, Psychiatric Survivors, and Narrative (Currently under review, anticipated approval for Fall 2023)


*Counts toward General Education— Other Liberal Arts

All current and interested students must meet with the program coordinator Dr. Lauren Shallish in the Urban Education Department at Rutgers Newark in order to declare the minor and progress in the program. Please note this minor does not lead to teacher certification.

Affiliated Faculty include:

  • Dr. Jack Tchen, Faculty & Director of the Clement A. Price Institute on Ethnicity, Culture and the Modern Experience
  • Dr. Alison Howell, Political Science
  • Dr. LaChan Hannon, Urban Education
  • Dr. Diane Wong, Political Science

People with disabilities represent the largest minoritized group in the U.S.  Knowledge of disability, accessibility, and inclusion are essential to a number of careers and graduate programs and the advancement of a more equitable and just society.

If you are pursuing a career in medicine, social work, or human services a minor in disability studies provides critical understanding of the cultural and linguistic traditions associated with disabled and D/deaf identities.  This is essential for supporting the education and well-being of children, adults and families.

For students pursuing a career in the humanities, social sciences, journalism, and law the minor provides specialization in disability policy, law, and advocacy.  You will study the sociology of disability, civil rights statues, and educational entitlement laws as they apply to students, families, and public institutions.  The minor provides an understanding the environmental, social, legal, and health-related impacts on the lives of people with disabilities, their families, and community-based services with particular attention paid to the local context of Newark.

The Declaration or Change of Major/Minor Form must be completed and submitted to Dr. Lauren Shallish (Lauren.Shallish@rutgers.edu) in the Urban Education Department.  A meeting must also be arranged to discuss your plan of study and related interests.


In 2021, Rutgers University-Newark hosted The Anti-Eugenics Project.  Learn more about the convening and listen to keynote speakers discuss the history of eugenics;  lifting up the grassroots movements working to counteract the oppressive legal and social structures that still further eugenicist ideals today.

The Society of Disability Studies is a national organization focused on the promotion of the field of disability studies and related areas of scholarship, advocacy, and reparations.  Disability Studies Quarterly is the journal for the Society for Disability Studies.


View of students walking on campus