Professor Julia White Awarded SCRC Fellowship to Explore Disability as a Cultural Construction

Julia White, School of Education Associate Professor and Director of the Atrocity Studies and the Practices of Social Justice minor program, has been awarded a Syracuse University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) Faculty Fellows grant for the 2023-2024 academic year. Also receiving an award is LaVerne Gray, Assistant Professor in the School of Information Studies.

Julia M. WhiteAs fellows, both White and Gray will take part in a four-week SCRC summer residency in 2023 that will include workshops and training sessions on handling special collections materials; teaching students how to research within and across collections; and designing hands-on, individualized, creative, and critically minded assignments with rare materials.

Selected by a committee of librarians, curators, and faculty, the 2023-2024 SCRC fellows will use what they learned and the materials gathered from the special collection to teach newly developed courses the following year.

During her fellowship, White will explore disability as a cultural construction, which has resulted in pervasive and systemic discrimination that disabled people encounter in their everyday lives.

By engaging collections rich in the history of inclusive education and disability rights, as well as the documented rise—and fall—of institutions and asylums for individuals with intellectual disabilities, White’s planned course will investigate the impact of these histories on current conceptualizations and practices in the field of special and inclusive education.

Gray will explore how culture(s), class designation, gender, and community location are fashioned in a Black informational perspective.

“We are so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with professors Gray and White and couldn’t be more excited by the serendipity of their pairing as a faculty cohort,” says Jana Rosinski, SCRC’s Instruction and Education Librarian and Coordinator of the SCRC Faculty Fellows Program. “To be able to support the exploration of these critical matters with materials of the places, times, happenings, and people within the context of a course is such an impactful experience for students.”

Rosinski continues, “Beyond the courses themselves, professors Gray and White are educators of future educators and information caretakers. These ways of thinking and creating, modes of inquiry, uncovering, and critique—the very embodiment of knowledge and meaning making—extends through the potential in each of their students, radiating out.”

Syracuse University Libraries’ SCRC Faculty Fellows Program supports innovative curriculum development and foster new ideas about how to transform the role of special collections in University instruction. Each fellow receives a $5,000 stipend along with guidance on how to provide students with a unique opportunity to research, analyze, and interpret SCRC’s primary source materials in their class and ongoing course support.

Original funding for the Program was made possible through the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, which promotes the advancement and perpetuation of humanistic inquiry and artistic creativity by encouraging excellence in scholarship and in the performing arts and by supporting research libraries and other institutions that transmit cultural heritage.