Disability Studies


The Interdisciplinary Master’s Program in Disability Studies is a joint program initiative of the University of Manitoba and the Canadian Centre on Disability Studies. This is the first graduate program of its kind in Canada. Experts from community disability organizations are also involved in the course delivery as guest speakers, lecturers or facilitators as provided for by University regulations.

The objectives of this program in Disability Studies are as follows:

  • To promote interdisciplinary work in Disability Studies
  • To provide graduate students with an opportunity to apply their undergraduate degrees and work experience to an interdisciplinary Master’s degree program in Disability Studies
  • To meet the demand from students, staff and organizations for persons with disabilities for an interdisciplinary graduate program in Disability Studies
  • To facilitate and encourage the involvement of leaders in the disability community and at the University of Manitoba to be educators, researchers and decision makers
  • To enhance employment opportunities for persons with disabilities
  • To promote greater access to the University for persons with disabilities.

The Interdisciplinary Master’s Degree in Disability Studies program allows the pursuit of interdisciplinary graduate education in this area. It also accommodates students from other faculties and professions who are interested in enhancing their knowledge in the field. The program presents a core body of courses in the field of Disability Studies, while at the same time, providing a broad complement of discipline-specific electives in other departments and faculties.

There is a diverse group of faculty members at the University of Manitoba with expertise in Disability Studies. They are in Architecture, Community Health Sciences, Economics, Education, Family Studies, Medical Rehabilitation, Medicine, Nursing, Physical Education and Recreation, Social Work, Sociology and Women’s Studies.

Diane Driedger

Dr. Driedger is assistant professor in the disability studies master’s program at the University of Manitoba. Since 1980, Driedger has been an activist, poet, visual artist, researcher and author on people with disabilities, especially the empowerment of women with disabilties.

She has published eight books, including The Last Civil Rights Movement: Disabled Peoples’ International. In her latest book, an edited reader titled Living the Edges: A Disabled Women’s Reader, Driedger features the voices of Canadian women who have mental and physical disabilities.

The stories shed light on the sexism and ableism these women face at work and in relationships, and more importantly, illuminate their strength and resilience in the face of such trials.

A dedicated advocate for disability rights, Driedger served as the provincial co-ordinator of the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities (2010-2013). In the past, Driedger worked with Disabled People’s international, the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, and DisAbled Women’s Network Canada. She has also worked with the disability movement in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago through CUSO and CESO.

Driedger earned her PhD in education from the University of Manitoba.

Nancy Hansen

Dr. Hansen protects and promotes the rights of people living with disabilities.

She wrote an opinion piece on Canada’s recent assisted suicide decision. She argues doctors too often don’t understand disabilities, and calls for improved access to care instead of easier access to death.

In addition to studying disabled peoples’ access to health care, Hansen’s research also covers the history and media coverage of disability and disabled women’s issues.

Hansen is the director of the University of Manitoba’s interdisiplinary disability studies program and past president of the Canadian Disability Studies Association. She received an Einstein research fellowship examining disability studies and the legacy of Nazi eugenics, and was awarded an Ireland Canada university foundation Sprott asset management scholarship to examine the history of people with disabilities in Ireland. Hansen has been involved with various Canadian disability groups for many years.

Deborah Stienstra

Dr. Deborah Stienstra is Professor in Disability Studies at the University of Manitoba. Her recent research interests include the effects of changes in public services on people with disabilities, women’s experiences as a result of economic restructuring, intersections between disability, race/ethnicity and Aboriginality, access and inclusion in telecommunications policy, and experiences of people with disabilities in end of life and cancer care.

On March 6th, 2017, Dr. Stienstra gave a talk on Implicating Inclusion: Women with Disabilities as Visionaries, Innovators, and Pioneers at the 15th annual International Women’s Day Dinner.

Dr. Stienstra served as Director of the Interdisciplinary Master’s Program in Disability Studies from 2003-2006 and held the Royal Bank Research Chair in Disability Studies from 2000-2003 at the Canadian Centre on Disability Studies. She is co-editor of Making Equality: History of Advocacy and Persons with Disabilities in Canada and the lead author of About Canada: Disability Rights, which explores barriers Canadians with disabilities face in obtaining human rights, and suggests how disability rights can be achieved.

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