Course Offered in Fall 2019
Representation is a cornerstone of modern democracy. Traditionally, however, representation and rights have been reserved for citizens who meet particular standards of fitness and ability. American values of self-reliance and competition enable a narrative in which the “haves” are somehow more deserving than the “have nots.” This course considers the consequences of these ideals, especially for disabled people, who are the world’s largest minority. We will discuss multiple forms of “representation”—within the legal and public sphere, as well as in the world of culture, arts and entertainment, work, the marketplace, and the physical environment. In our current political climate, a “survival of the fittest” philosophy survives in healthcare proposals that would cut Medicare and Medicaid, and leave those with “pre-existing conditions” without affordable coverage. How do we define strength and weakness in our national culture? How do these values impede our professed commitment to equality and civil rights? By considering the perspectives of the more vulnerable members of society, we will expand our understanding of “diversity.” The skills and ideas you learn in this class will make you stand out in your discipline, whether you’re interested in the health sciences, law, politics and government, the social and behavioral sciences, education, architecture and engineering, business, or the arts and humanities.