Description: Disability Studies focuses on the sociopolitical analysis of disability.  The UMKC Leadership Certificate in Disability Studies is a 12 credit hour graduate level program of study that will enable students to examine the social meanings we give to variations that exist in human behavior and appearance and the consequences of those meanings.  The interdisciplinary curriculum includes the humanities, social sciences, law, administration, and education.


Project Contact:               George Gotto, PhD, 816.235.5334,

Project Period:                 Ongoing

Funding Source:               UMKC College of Graduate Studies

Core Functions

Applied Research: Course evaluations are conducted routinely. Evaluation information is utilized to expand and improve course content.

Community Services and Supports: Institute staff provide university faculty with information on Institute values and service paradigms. Technical assistance is provided to community agencies in conjunction with student projects.

Information Dissemination: Materials from the Missouri Developmental Disabilities Resource Center and from disability related advocacy organizations, as well as text and other selected readings, are disseminated to students.

Interdisciplinary Personnel Preparation: Students are prepared for leadership positions within their chosen field in the arena of disabilities


Program Need and Historical Context

  • Curriculum is based on courses and academic relationships developed as part of the Institute’s interdisciplinary training mission.
  • Recent policy studies indicate that disability issues remain to be acted upon even though significant resources are targeted at 20% of the population that have disabilities.
  • Leadership Certificate will train leaders to recognize and understand policy and action implications of social/political valuing of people with disabilities.


Consumer and Community Involvement

  • Both adults with disabilities (e.g., People First members) and parents of children with disabilities work as trainers in the course.
  • Special Education teachers, staff members from governmental agencies, and other practitioners in the field serve as presenters.  Many students are preparing for work in these fields.
  • Administrators and board members of consumer agencies may be students in this program.
  • Community agencies will benefit from service-learning of students in programs.



Significant Project Activities and Outcomes

  • Development of multidisciplinary Disability Studies Advisory Committee
  • Organized structure for disability courses
  • Transcript recorded evidence of advanced training in disability field


Institute’s Role

  • Recruit and coordinate the responsibilities of faculty team members
  • Participate as key faculty and guest lecturers, in partnership with faculty from other university departments
  • Oversee the yearly development and revision of curricula for the courses and the delivery of training at multiple locations
  • Coordinate the involvement of community agencies that participate in supporting on-site student projects
  • Supervise student activities conducted at the Institute



  • Rationale for Disability Studies
  • Core course syllabi
  • Lecture content
  • Speaker directory
  • Bibliography of Disability Studies curricula and resources


System:  Graduates will be in leadership positions.

Personnel:  Graduate students are sensitive to disabilities issues and aware of disabilities law and services.

Leveraging:The cost is shared with the UMKC School of Graduate Studies and participating disciplines.