American College in Madurai introduces disability studies in syllabus
The American College in Madurai has introduced a course in disability studies from this academic year. This will be first be introduced in the MBA programme and latere xpanded to other courses.
Madurai’s well-known American College will introduce disability studies from this year in the masters in economics programmes and later in the MBA programme. The papers in Gender Economics and Human Development will include disability studies.
Disability studies as a field occupies an important place in universities in the West. In India, however, this is relatively new and unexplored. Recently, Dr Hemachandran Karah, faculty member at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IIT-M had announced an open online course in disability studies. Called Disability Studies — An Introduction, the course will begin in July this year.
Welcoming this move by the American College, Dr Karah hoped this would encourage more universities to look at introducing a similar programme, but cautioned that the approach has to be thought through.
Academicians can routinise such studies. That means, the introduction of these disability studies become a part of the syllabus just like any other paper or subject. I feel that does not really help students. Another way of looking at it is to focus on how well it can be implemented locally. Madurai, where the college is located, is a hub of great culture and intellectuals. It is the ideal place to begin with such a revolutionary move. People in Madurai have immense knowledge and introduction of disability studies will be a new mode of flourishing the topic. Hopefully, more colleges follow suit. – Dr Hemachandran Karah, Assistant Professor, Department of Humanities & Social Sciences, IIT Madras
For this academic year, the college plans to focus on the economic impact of disability. It’s an interesting way of looking at disability and one that is much needed as it moves beyond the medical lens. Also, introducing it at the college levels will make students better aware and understanding about disabilities.
TMN Deepak, the disability rights activist and founder of December 3 Movement says the move is welcome but says the approach will make all the difference. “I totally welcome this initiative. But it all depends on the perspective of the course. It must be used with care and sensitivity.