Culture and disability program receives international award

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s only study abroad program focused specifically on disability has been recognized for its innovation in the field of international education.

“Culture and Disability,” a four-week summer course developed by Wendy Coduti, assistant professor of rehabilitation and human services (RHS), was named Innovative New Program — Study Abroad by GoAbroad, a leading organization for meaningful travel. According to its website, the award “honors an inventive program in global study … that provides a unique opportunity for student learning and cultural engagement.” Programs nominated for the award are evaluated based on program development, execution and overall creativity.

“Since we are all temporarily abled, understanding how culture and disability interact is critical. Disability is a global experience, but it is not experienced the same globally, which is why I believe students are interested in this program.”

— Wendy Coduti, assistant professor
of rehabilitation and human services

“Winning this award is an honor and highlights the importance of making disability issues more mainstream and accessible to students in all majors, not just those going into the helping professions,” Coduti said. “Since we are all temporarily abled, understanding how culture and disability interact is critical. Disability is a global experience, but it is not experienced the same globally, which is why I believe students are interested in this program.”

The program, now in its second year, takes students to Dublin and Galway, Ireland, where they visit various service agencies and meet with experts in the field of disability services. During the first three weeks, students stay at Trinity College Dublin and visit organizations such as Deaf Village, Mental Health Ireland, Irish Society for Autism, Disability Federation Ireland, Friends of the Elderly, and the National Institute of Intellectual Disabilities.

During the last week, students attend the International Disability Law Summer School at the National University of Ireland, Galway, a five-day program that introduces them to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

“From being over here the past several days, I can see the value and impact this program has on students from across disciplines as they examine disability cultures of Ireland and the United States,” said Jim Herbert, professor of rehabilitation and human services, who is co-teaching the program this year. “I had some awareness of this program, but now that I am here, I have a much greater appreciation of the work that Wendy has invested in making this program a valuable learning experience for students and faculty.”

The 2016 program will continue through June 24, with students sharing their experiences in an online blog. The six-credit course is open to students in any major. For additional program information, visit http://bit.ly/1GlDBQg online or contact Coduti at wac16@psu.edu or Herbert at jth4@psu.edu.

Last Updated June 16, 2016