An International Conference Why Do We Need Disability Studies

The International Conference Why Do We Need Disability Studies took place in the Rectory building of Novi Sad University on December 12, 2023, from 13.00 to 16.30.

The conference attendees were present and future experts from numerous domains: social work, medicine, psychology, law, media and communication, civil engineering, architecture, and activists of organizations of persons with disabilities.

IZ KRUGA VOJVODINA organized the conference in cooperation with the Social Work Studies of the Faculty of Philosophy, Novi Sad University. The Conference is categorized as an international conference by the Decision of the Chamber of Social Protection no. 55075-2468/2023 from November 21, 2023. All presentations at conferences were translated into sign language by interpreters Marija Gabnai and Dajana Erceg from the Association of Sign Language Interpreters.

An introduction to the subject Why do we need disability studies, was given by lecturers from American universities, Andjela Kaur, a professor at the Rehabilitation and Human Services Program Studies at Pennsylvania State University, and Olivera Jokic, a director and professor at the Gender Studies Program, John Jay College, City University New York.

Angela Kaur problematized disability studies as a relatively short, separate scientific research area in higher education that cannot be reduced merely to the academic context, but the impact on established professional practices in health care, urban planning, pedagogy, and social work must be considered.

Olivera Jokic talked about the relationship between gender studies and disability studies. She emphasized that gender studies regard all personal as political, and they deal with questions how we use and how “natural” categories and “normal” values appear in modern society that keeps changing. Disability and gender studies jointly ask how shared values are adopted and used and how a diverse society that likes to know what is “normal” thinks about itself.

Within the thematic block Disability studies in academic education, respected professors and experts from our faculties and institutions talked about which contents from the field of disability studies are part of the bachelor’s and master’s academic studies curriculum in different study programs: 

Within the thematic block – the Civil Initiative for Disability Studies in our country, representatives of the movement for the rights of persons with disabilities spoke about the various contributions made so far to the creation of disability studies in Serbia:

Both thematic blocks were led by Tatjana Stojšić Petković, member of IZ KRUGA VOJVODINA and president of the National Organization of Persons with Disabilities.

In the discussion, the participants supported the idea of establishing disability studies, if not immediately as a higher education academic program, then at least as an informal educational program available to a wide range of professional profiles and the interested public.

The final conclusions of the International conference Why Do We Need Disability Studies were presented by Andjela Kaur.

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