About CDSC


In 2015, University of Minnesota graduate students founded the Critical Disability Studies Collective (CDSC). The goal was to build a community through the study of social norms that shape our ideas about disability and ability.

Since our founding, the CDSC has collaborated with many departments and units across campus. This includes being awarded the following grants:

  • The Imagine Fund Special Events Grant (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019),
  • The Interdisciplinary Collaborative Workshop Grant (2017),
  • Campus Climate Microgrant (2019), and
  • The Institute for Advanced Studies, Research and Creative Collaboratives Grant (2020).

With our interdisciplinary and intersectional focus, the CDSC joined the Race, Indigeneity, Gender & Sexuality (RIGS) Initiative in the 2017-2018 academic year.

The CDSC hosts many speakers and events promoting our vision. This includes lectures, presentations, panel discussions, and reading groups on diverse topics.


The Critical Disability Studies Collective (CDSC) seeks to build a community around the study of disability at the University of Minnesota. We approach the study of disability by questioning social norms that shape our ideas of disability and ability. From this, the CDSC promotes the understanding of disability as a complex experience shaped by culture, politics, and history. Our work as a Collective aims to improve campus climate for disabled people in three ways:

  • We create opportunities for learning about disability from intersectional and interdisciplinary frameworks.
  • We develop resources about inclusive and accessible teaching and learning practices.
  • We build community space by and for disabled people.


The CDSC promotes complex understandings of disability as:

  • identity
  • lived experience
  • community
  • created by society, within specific time and place
  • historical, sociocultural, economic, and political formations
  • forms of meaning-making that map power dynamics onto body-minds. These power dynamics intersect with other power dynamics such as:
    • race,
    • class,
    • gender,
    • sexuality,
    • ageism,
    • sizeism, and
    • citizenship
  • systems of exclusion and belonging that unevenly distribute life chances through discrimination, violence, and oppression.

We do this through initiatives and endeavors related to:

  • Inclusive pedagogy
  • Interdisciplinary study
  • Community and culture
  • Arts and activism


In all that we do, the CDSC strives to ground our work in the10 Principles of Disability Justice. Also:

  • We prioritize meaningful access.
  • We uplift disability justice activists voices, who do groundbreaking, life-changing work.
  • We uphold anti-racism by working to eradicate white supremacy culture in our organizational practices, scholarship, teaching, and activism.
  • We adhere to the motto, “nothing about us without us”.
  • We center the voices and experiences of those most marginalized.
  • We foster cross-disability community and self-identity, avoiding hierarchy.
  • We collaborate intentionally in order to create meaningful and sustainable relationships.
  • We uplift activist-scholars, marginalized scholars, and scholars without institutional support or authority.
  • We value study and creation that moves across, blends, and merges disciplines.
  • We lead as a collective.
  • We center and support each other as we move through crip time and space, using sustainable practices.
  • We welcome participation from all, including broader community members.

We acknowledge our position of privilege within an academic institution. Our role includes challenging these societal, ideological, institutional, and interpersonal barriers when possible.