December 3, 2019

Wayne State’s College of Education awarded grant to host summer institute on disability and identity in history, literature and media

Susan L. Gabel, College of Education professor of inclusive education, summer institute director

DETROIT — The Wayne State University College of Education will present “The National Endowment for the Humanities and Wayne State University Together: Disability and Identity in History, Literature and Media,” a one-week summer institute for K-12 educators, July 27-31, 2020. A collaboration with the Wayne State University Humanities Center, the institute has been made possible in part by a $107,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor.

During the week-long program — which will be held on the university’s main campus — educators will explore disability and identity in history, literature and media. Outcomes include understanding disability and identity, analyzing disability and identity in K-12 humanities curriculum, translating knowledge and analysis into K-12 teaching, and building a national network of resources and K-12 colleagues exploring disability and identity in the humanities curriculum.

Twenty-eight educators will be invited to attend the summer institute. They will be selected from a competitive national pool. Interested educators can apply at through March 1. Elementary teachers, new teachers and librarians are encouraged to apply.

Susan L. Gabel, Ph.D., professor of inclusive education and director of the institute, said, “The institute provides educators the opportunity to understand disability and identity in the history, literature and media used by K-12 educators. Disability as an identity may be a novel idea for many educators due to the traditional way schools identify students for learning support services. The institute takes the perspective that disability can be understood and analyzed as an identity in the K-12 curriculum. With this approach, disability can be understood from multiple perspectives.”

Five internationally renowned scholars will facilitate daily discussions about disability and identity in the K-12 humanities curriculum. Guest speakers include:

  • Aja Reynolds, Ph.D., visiting assistant professor of urban education and critical race studies at Wayne State University
  • Michael Bérubé, Ph.D., the Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Literature at Pennsylvania State University
  • Beth Haller, Ph.D., professor of journalism and new media at Towson University
  • Kim Nielsen, Ph.D., professor of disability studies, history, and women’s and gender studies at the University of Toledo
  • Robert McRuer, Ph.D., professor of English at George Washington University

In addition, Kathleen Crawford-McKinney, Ph.D., associate professor of reading, language and literature at Wayne State University, will teach a workshop about children’s literature.

“The Humanities Center congratulates Professor Susan Gabel and the College of Education for submitting a successful proposal to host a NEH summer institute on disability studies,” said Walter Edwards, Ph.D., professor of linguistics and center director. “Understanding disability in education is essential to the academic and professional health of our nation, as it is a mechanism for ensuring that our education systems are inclusive and benefit from the wealth of intellectual, technical and professional talents of all our citizens. The center is honored to be involved in the institute’s activities.”

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Learn more information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs at

For more information about the summer institute, visit, or contact Susan Gabel at 313-577-6382 or

About the College of Education

For more than a century, the Wayne State University College of Education has prepared effective urban educators who are reflective, innovative and committed to diversity. The college offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in more than 30 program areas, including art therapy, bilingual/bicultural education, community health, counseling, educational evaluation and research, educational leadership and policy studies, educational psychology, elementary education, exercise and sport science, learning design and technology, special education and sports administration. To learn more, visit

About Wayne State University

Wayne State University, located in the heart of Detroit’s Midtown Cultural Center, is a premier urban research institution offering more than 350 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 27,000 students. For more information, visit

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this release do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Tracy Boyce
Phone: 313-577-0260

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