Syracuse University

SU News

School of Education's inaugural Centennial Professor Steven Taylor to develop new undergraduate disabilities studies program

June 02, 2008

Patrick Farrell
315 443 5421

Patrick Farrell

Steven J. Taylor, professor of cultural foundations and co-director of Syracuse University's Center on Human Policy, Law and Disability Studies, has been named Centennial Professor in Disability Studies in the School of Education. Taylor's appointment as the school's first Centennial Professor is in recognition and appreciation of his pioneering scholarship in and commitment to the field of disability studies. Among Taylor's duties as Centennial Professor will be the creation of an undergraduate disabilities studies program. The program, although housed within the School of Education, will be interdisciplinary in its outlook and operation.

In announcing this appointment, Douglas Biklen, dean of the School of Education, noted, "Steve has been one of the leaders internationally in establishing the field of disability studies, and so it is fitting that he will lead Syracuse faculty and students in creating an undergraduate disability studies program. In naming Steve Centennial Professor in Disability Studies, Syracuse University seeks to build on a historical tradition in disability research at the University."

With partial support from the Syracuse University Chancellor's Initiatives, the professorship will invest in a series of activities including program development, public lectures, seed grants, film screenings and other activities that will enhance the University's contributions to the interdisciplinary field of disability studies.

The new disabilities studies program will be an extension of Taylor's life-long commitment to the field of disability studies. The program will offer undergraduate-level courses in the sociology of disability, disability rights, culture of disability, social policy and disability and representation of disability and ability. While the program will offer School of Education students the opportunity to make disability studies the focus of their undergraduate major, it also will allow undergraduates in schools and colleges across the SU campus to pursue minors in disability studies. In addition, this unique program aims to attract prospective students with disabilities and those who have had personal experience with people with disabilities.

"I'm honored to be appointed Centennial Professor, but more than anything else, this appointment will enable me--with the help of other faculty and students--to continue to build Syracuse University's disability studies program," says Taylor. "We had the first graduate disability studies program in the country. Now, it's time to develop an undergraduate program. We hope to do on the undergraduate level what we've done in our graduate program--attract outstanding students to Syracuse University."

Taylor will begin designing the undergraduate program this summer with University faculty members, administrators and students. The program will focus on policy, popular culture, social and cultural aspects of disability, and the relationship between disability and race, class, gender and sexuality. Students in the program will benefit from having the opportunity to study with prominent disability studies faculty members, with additional support from outstanding doctoral students and adjunct faculty who will be available to help with the program.

Taylor is a nationally recognized specialist in the inclusion and rights of people with disabilities. In addition to conducting research, Taylor provides training and technical assistance in the area of disabilities studies and has extensive experience in establishing community living arrangements for people with severe disabilities. Taylor is an authority on deinstitutionalization, school and community inclusion, disability policy, disability trends and controversies, and has written numerous books and articles on these topics. In recognition of his scholastic excellence, Taylor has received numerous awards and citations, including the American Association on Mental Retardation Research Award (1997); a visiting professorship at Keio University, Japan (1998); and the Syracuse University Chancellor's Citation for Exceptional Academic Achievement (2003). Earlier this year, Taylor was presented the first Senior Scholar Award of the Society for Disability Studies.

Taylor earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from SU and holds a Ph.D. degree in sociology. He worked at the University of Minnesota and Cornell University before becoming director of SU's Center for Human Policy in 1983. He was named co-director of the Center on Human Policy, Law and Disability Studies in 2005.

Recent News