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ARCH 609 – Disability and Design



Disability and Design is a course that explores the communicative structures of disability as it motivates new design methodologies that impact everyday objects, human and post-human bodies, and extensive territories of urban space. Though in its infancy, disability discourse in the 21st century is populated with diverse positions that traverse the medical apparatus and scientific research, social justice and human rights, cultural agency and digital subjectivity. Whether technological innovation, public policy, or creative practice, disability discourse is concerned with developing new types of embodiment that expand the scope of knowledge in this space. This course is designed to provide each student an introduction to disability studies, and extends an invitation to students who may identify as disabled to contribute their good energy to developing disability discourse.

Disability and Design is a multi-disciplinary course that unsettles preconceptions about disability, and the rights of disabled bodies to practice civic space. This course cares for the environment of teaching and learning, and addresses the classroom and institution frontally as a site for reconsideration to engage disability discourse. This is a project-based, thinking and making, intensive course surveying a variety of disciplines and media. What modes of interpretation produce unique types of knowledge that historically have been in the margins? What assumptions about disabled, racial, ethnic, gendered, and sexed identities help one to conceptualize a future of radical alterity. How does the design of infrastructure and communication protocols, from the scale of the hand to the urban landscapes, understand disability as a stacked or intersectional construction? For example, given the traumatic history of disability and medical research, what new models of work might thrive in a post-medicalized culture?

Disability and Design uses the format of the design studio in a cooperative environment that develops a broad platform for research and creative work. Special guests will introduce ideas, designs, and questions regarding disability to broaden the intellectual scope of the expanding field of disability studies.


Thu 2:00-5:00pm G463 MH


Petra Kuppers