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Open seminar June 7th: "Labeling and categories in education. Contributions from contemporary disability studies"

The Department of Special Needs Education is hosting an open seminar about the intersection of education, special needs education, and disability studies. The Department has invited two internationally leading figures in disability studies, Dan Goodley of Sheffield University and Simo Vehmas of the University of Helsinki, to discuss these and related issues.


Disability studies is an interdisciplinary field based on the understanding of disability, including intellectual and developmental disabilities, as biologically, socially, culturally, and historically situated phenomena. It is concerned with institutions, practices, and frames of understanding – not least in the field of education – that shape disability and the lives of disabled people.

Research in disability studies has extensive implications for the field of education, perhaps particularly in regard to how students are classified as having special needs relative to what is offered by normal or standardized educational institutions, how such special needs are defined through medical and diagnostic categories, and how such categories and their attendant labels interact with social and political forces.


Professor Dan Goodley

Professor Dan Goodley holds a Chair in Education and is a leading proponent of Critical Disability Studies as well as critical psychological and sociological theory. His research interests include theorising and challenging the conditions of disablism (the social, political, cultural and psycho-emotional exclusion of people with physical, sensory and/or cognitive impairments) and ableism (the contemporary ideals on which the able, autonomous, productive citizen is based). He is the author, amongst many other works, of Disability Studies. An Interdisciplinary Introduction.


Professor Simo Vehmas

Professor Simo Vehmas holds Finland’s first Chair in Disability Studies and is the president of the Nordic Network on Disability Research. He has a background in philosophy and his research has dealt with issues such as the ontological formation, as well as the moral and political significance of disability. His publications include the anthology Arguing About Disability (with Tom Shakespeare and Kristjana Kristiansen) and numerous papers exploring ethical and philosophical questions related to intellectual disability and education.


The seminar is free of charge. Deadline for registration: May 29th. You can register for the seminar here


10:00 Coffee

10:20 Opening remarks, professor Jan Grue (Department of Special Needs Education)

10:30 Professor Dan Goodley: “Disability labels, educational categories and an in-between-al politics"

11:15 Comments by professor Tone Kvernbekk (Department of Education), followed by open discussion

12:00 Lunch (can be bought in the cafeteria, Helga Eng's building) 

13:00 Professor Simo Vehmas: “Disability diagnoses, (alternative) facts, and sensible politics"

13:45 Comments by professor Eivind Engebretsen (Department of Health Sciences), followed by open discussion

14:30 Summary and closing remarks, professor Jan Grue


Published Apr. 3, 2017 9:09 AM - Last modified Apr. 26, 2017 2:13 PM