New Disabilities Studies Concentration

This year, Roanoke College has expanded their academic catalog by launching a new concentration in Disability Studies.

“the concentration was designed with an interdisciplinary approach that reflects the truth that disabilities are woven into every aspect of society.” –Roanoke College

The interdisciplinary team of faculty directing the concentration include Dr. Teresa Milbrodt, Assistant Professor of English & Communication Studies; Mrs. Frances McCutcheon, Lecturer in Biology; and Dr. Andréa Burchfield, Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology.

Required courses for the concentration focus on disability theory, the lived experience of people with disabilities, elective units, and a capstone consisting of an internship or independent study.

Dr. Burchfield shares that Disability Studies “prepares students for careers in the human services where they are likely to encounter people with disabilities.” Students who aim to attend graduate programs for special education, occupational therapy, speech and language pathology, and applied behavior analysis will especially benefit from completing the concentration.

Dr. Andréa Burchfield, Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology, Coordinator for Disability Studies

The concentration is also aimed at providing students with disabilities at Roanoke College a means to “better understand themselves, their disability communities, and what to expect from the world at large, while also deepening their support network here on campus.”

Prior to teaching at Roanoke College, Dr. Burchfield worked in the field by providing behavior therapy, disability education and consultation, and disability accommodation training. Her past research focused on children with autism.

She says,

“I’m motivated to educate students about disabilities after years of witnessing the systemic isolation, negative stigmas, and obstacles to accessing services that people with disabilities face. People without disabilities lack a general awareness about the challenges the disability community faces; I’d like to reduce that gap in awareness.”

Through disability studies, Dr. Burchfield hopes that students will create “positive changes for people with disabilities on campus and in their communities” and that current and prospective Roanoke students with disabilities will benefit from a stronger sense of community and belonging on campus.

The Psychology Department is excited that this valuable field of study is now represented on campus.

Get Connected!