On October 18, 2023, UCLA Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Darnell Hunt and Dean Adriana Galvan hosted a reception to celebrate the launch of the new major, a B.A. degree in Disability Studies for faculty, administrators, and staff. The Disability Studies program which launched as a minor in 2007, examines disability as a social, medical, cultural, and aesthetic construct and challenges societal norms around disability through a multi-disciplinary approach that includes fields such as nursing, music, dance, law, literature, genetics, and more. The major in Disability Studies is the first in the University of California and California State University systems.
Speakers included Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Darnell Hunt, Dean Adriana Galván of the Division of Undergraduate Education, and Professor Victoria Marks, Chair of the Disability Studies IDP.
EVCP Darnell Hunt recognized the new major builds on UCLA’s long history of advancing social justice and equity on campus and beyond — especially when it comes to inclusion and access for individuals with disabilities. Throughout UCLA’s history, its students, faculty and staff have confronted bias and championed inclusion. More than three decades ago, UCLA was the first UC campus to appoint a full-time disability compliance officer, UCLA graduate Douglas Martin — a renowned civil rights activist whose work also contributed to the passing of the ADA. He shared that the new major adds to this legacy, but it is also breaks new ground by asking the world to focus on enhancing belonging, access and citizenship for those with disabilities. He also emphasized UCLA’s commitment by announcing the approval of two new full-time faculty positions.
The Disability Studies B.A. is housed within the Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE). As Dean of the Division, Adriana Galván shared her excitement and confidence in the Division’s strong history of offering signature undergraduate programming and in the IDP’s future impact on Disability Studies students’ lives and careers. In a video compilation, diverse community members and friends to UCLA Disability Studies shared their congratulations and echoed the excitement in the room for the new major.
Finally, the Chair of the Disability Studies program, Professor Victoria Marks highlighted that disability studies touches on virtually every discipline in our university. To emphasize this point, she shared some of the current DS IDP faculty experience with a video compilation. Faculty representing Nursing, Anthropology, Musicology, and Gender Studies spoke about the impact of disability studies on their work and how Los Angeles and UCLA is a unique location to examine disability.
Chair Marks also announced a generous gift to the Disability Studies Inclusion Labs from the inaugural Dean of Undergraduate Education, Judith Smith — a new initiative titled “Legacy and Futures: Judith Heumann Community Partnerships”, which invites UCLA faculty to partner with a disability community activist to share innovative ideas and develop projects that advance disability visibility and justice, offering reciprocal benefits to both UCLA and disability communities.
We hope you’ll stay tuned to announcements about the faculty search or the Heumann Lab.