Note: This is a student project from a course affiliated with the Ethnography of the University Initiative. EUI supports faculty development of courses in which students conduct original research on their university, and encourages students to think about colleges and universities in relation to their communities and within larger national and global contexts.

Files in this item



application/pdfResearchProcess.pdf (288kB)
Research ProcessPDF


application/mswordResearch_Proposal_final.doc (65kB)
Research ProposalMicrosoft Word
Other Available Formats


application/pdfResearch_Proposal_final.doc.pdf (142kB)
Automatically converted using OpenOffice.orgPDF


Title:Sticking up for them too: Understanding the university's role in promoting advocacy among and for people with disabilities
Author(s):Baldwin, Jenn
people with disability
student organizations
Abstract:This archived file includes the primary data and preliminary results of a semester long, ethnographic research project that sought to describe the experiences of students with disabilities at the University of Illinois. I suggest that many of the student’s involved in this project came to the University of Illinois with a strong sense of self-advocacy and awareness of their identity as an individual with a disability. However, through their interactions with peers and participation in several university arenas, including classrooms, student organizations, wheelchair athletics, and residential living, these students developed a broader social network involving individuals with a diverse range of disabilities. Preliminary findings from this project suggest that these broader social interactions and networks among students with disabilities allow students to both understand the experiences of others, as well as to advocate for programs and policies that benefit both students and community members with disabilities. Thus, the university through it’s many features (just some of which include educational, extracurricular, leisure, social, and residential) provide settings and interactions through which a student with a disability can become engaged in advocacy behaviors for themselves and others, give primacy to their identity as a disabled individual, and perform a disabled subjectivity. However, while the university is a site for such opportunities, it is clear that there is more that can be done to foster student awareness, advocacy, and engagement particularly within and between students who are able-bodied and disabled. This project archive includes recommendations to the university based on these preliminary findings, as well as a proposal for a long term project to further examine the processes of empowerment in which students with disabilities engage, as well as the personal and institutional factors that impact student advocacy efforts and the outcome of these efforts.
Issue Date:2008-02-11
Course / Semester:ANTH 411: Methods for Sociocultural Anthropology, Prof. Nancy Abelmann. This course introduced students to a variety of ethnographic methods. Students tried their hand at some of these methods through a focused project. I had students think about their semester-long work as "pilot research"; although they did write up a short paper on their findings (their "discuss" section of the database), the culminating assignment was a research proposal in which they envision building on their preliminary findings in a longer/larger project. In the beginning of the semester, students did some warm-up exercises not directly related to their projects (an observation, an analysis of a university document, and an interview) -- some students elected to remove these from their databases while others left them in because of their connection to the final project. Students' "question" and "plan" sections of the database include multiple entries as I encouraged them to continue to refine these over the course of the semester in dialogue with their own emerging findings. I also asked students to search both the U of I Student Life and Cultures Archives and well as this EUI IDEALS collection to find archives relevant to their pilot/proposed research. All students were asked to "reflect" on the research experience and to make "recommendations" to the University on the basis of their research findings. The course syllabus is available at:
Publication Status:unpublished
Date Available in IDEALS:2008-02-11

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

  • Diversity on Campus/Equity and Access
    This collection examines ways in which the U.S. university and the American college experience are affected by diversity, and difference. In particular, these student projects examine experiences of diversity on campus, including important contemporary social, cultural, and political debates on equity and access to university resources.
  • Student Communities and Culture
    The university offers an extraordinary opportunity to study and document student communities, life, and culture. This collection includes research on the activities, clubs, and durable social networks that comprise sometimes the greater portion of the university experience for students.

Item Statistics