Disability Studies programs offered at CUNY SPS


The City University of New York (CUNY) and its School of Professional Studies (SPS) have a long-standing history of providing direct support workers with the skills and knowledge to improve the lives of people with disabilities. For over 20 years, they have continued the great strides that John F. Kennedy. Jr. made in the field from the inception of its mentoring programs to introduction of its first academic certificate, right up to the debut of the first Online B.A. in Disability Studies. Here’s a little background on the evolution of CUNY’s work within disability studies.

CUNY’s support for the frontline workforce began in 1989, when John F. Kennedy, Jr. sought ways to develop educational opportunities leading to career advancement. A committed advocate for direct support staff, Kennedy recognized the demands placed on direct support workers and the need for quality education and training programs to professionalize the workforce. In collaboration with William Ebenstein at CUNY, he created the John F. Kennedy, Jr. Institute for Worker Education. The Institute developed coursework in developmental and intellectual disabilities as well as creating the Kennedy Fellows Program, a scholarship and mentoring program for frontline workers. Over 800 Fellows have received support over the last two decades and credit the program with helping them become leaders and strong advocates.

In 2004, the Institute developed an Advanced Certificate program for workers supporting people with disabilities, followed in 2009 by an M.A. in Disability Studies. With the launch of the M. A. degree, the Disability Studies program moved to SPS. As of June 2012, the programs have graduated over 200 students.

Seeing a national need for undergraduate educational opportunities for direct support professionals, CUNY approved the new, fully Online B.A. in Disability Studies in March 2012. The program is the first of its kind in the country, offering students the opportunity to earn an accredited college degree while focusing on topics directly relevant to their work. The degree features concentrations in Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Mental/Behavioral Health, and Interdisciplinary Disability Studies. A free webinar featuring the Online B.A in Disabilities Studies Program will be hosted on Wednesday, November 7, 2012 from 12:30pm to 1:30pm ET. Online registration,
https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/165252098, is required to attend the webinar.

Click here to learn more about the Disability Studies programs offered at CUNY SPS.

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