INDS Course Descriptions

INDS110: Foundations of Disability and Caregiving

This course provides a foundation in the history and evolution of the concept of disability in the West, from socio-cultural and medical perspectives. It also examines social, economic and political policy approaches and how they have been used to care for, label or control people with disabilities. The topics are explored through the lens of developmental disability, but also have general relevance for all disabilities. The readings are from the social sciences, humanities and social policy. They operate with an understanding of impairment or disability as social and cultural phenomenon as opposed to individual ‘problems’ or deficits as they were typically viewed within the pervasive medical perspective.

This is an exciting time for the study of disability from a social and cultural perspective. Historically, the field has focussed on medical advances in drugs and therapeutic rehabilitation tools, and later, movements to close down large institutions and promote so-called normal community life for people with disabilities. Since roughly the mid-eighties however, more attention has been given to the conceptual changes in how we understand disabilities culturally, and how public attitudes and policies can impact people’s lives almost as much as the disability itself. Much credit for this shift goes to individuals with disabilities and their families who advanced disability as a social priority and worked to express the diversity and richness of personal or family life lived with a disability.

This course considers the cultural and moral ideas which influence our health systems and caregiver training, including historical and current changes. A cultural approach broadens our possible ways of imagining impairment and disability beyond the often negative public perceptions and the useful but limited medical perspectives. It also assumes that the overall well-being of a society requires systems that facilitate diverse people to be included and supported, rather than facing unfair disadvantage based on their (dis)abilities.

Course Objectives By the end of the course, the learner will be able to:

  1. Understand the history of notions of disability and the caregiving structures created to contain or support people with disability.
  2. Challenge conventional Western negative images and understandings of disability and articulate progressive alternative models based on research and narrative examples.
  3. Explain how ‘disability as a deficit’ is a socio-culturally constructed concept and thus morally and politically-charged, but also changeable.
  4. Learn how the new models of disability and care apply in the case of 2 particular care organizations (L'Arche and Camphill) and particular individuals within it.
  5. To examine current significant issues in the field such as: social inclusion and exclusion, relationships, segregation versus integration, narratives and caring for caregivers.

INDS120: Relationships, Advocacy and Vision

Relationship, Advocacy and Vision, focuses on enduring questions and contemporary issues related to building relationship and community together with people who have developmental disabilities. Similar to course one, course two works from the position that having a disability is not so much an individual problem or deficit as it is a socially and culturally mediated phenomenon. As such, the course explores disability experience, celebrates diversity and takes seriously the value of interdependence. This course aims to understand, analyze and evaluate various approaches to living inclusion through community building. Course readings have been selected to provoke the “ethical imagination,” as well as to recognize and honor the gifts that persons with developmental disabilities make to society.

Course Objectives By the end of the course, the learner will be able to:

  1. Understand various issues, controversies and complexities in the area of intimacy, sexuality and intellectual disabilities.

  2. Examine the various dimensions of oppression, power and empowerment as relates to living and working with people who have an intellectual disability(ies).

  3. Gain insight into the ethical dimension of human care through two lenses, namely professionalism and friendship.

  4. Learn how the new models of disability and care apply in the case of 2 particular care organizations (L'Arche and Camphill) and particular individuals within it.

INDS130: Human Development

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the field of human development and persons with developmental disabilities. A critical examination of a number of issues related to development will shed light on current practices in human services. This course will focus on insights, challenges and opportunities related to the cognitive/physical, social/emotional and spiritual/moral aspects of development and persons with developmental disabilities. Concepts including agency, relationship and valuation weave and synthesize course content. The four modules of the course include: general human interest and theories of human development, physical/cognitive development, social/emotional development and the value of personhood.

Course Objectives By the end of the course, the learner will be able to:

  1. Understand theories of human development and their relationship to developmental disabilities.

  2. Demonstrate their knowledge of physical/cognitive/emotional/social development in relation to developmental disabilities.

  3. Understand the importance of perceiving and relating to persons with and without disabilities as unique and gifted individuals.

  4. Understand and apply the notions of agency, mutuality and spirituality in their respective settings.

  5. Examine current significant ethical and moral issues related to human development and how best to address them.

INDS140: Building Community

This course explores the spiritual dimensions of assisted living in the context of community life. It is based on the assumption that the social, political and cultural perspectives that guide policy and practice in the realm of disability services ultimately point to larger ethical and spiritual questions. The course topics include: the nature of the human person as spiritual; the nature of spiritual development and notions of spiritual maturity; the character of community as the living context of growth and care, and the actual art and practice of building community as an environment that supports spiritual growth for all persons. Drawing on the practical wisdom of communities such as l’Arche, Camphill, and the Fourth World movement, the course seeks to understand the principles, practices and processes that contribute to spiritual meaning in the lives of their members.

INDS150: Practicum

The Practicum/Project is an opportunity to demonstrate knowledge, theory and values in a holistic approach to daily living. This course provides participants with the opportunity to engage in a practicum (project work) based on the values of social justice and equality. The course is individually structured for each participant in collaboration with the faculty advisor. The orientating question will revolve around the needs of individuals with a developmental disability, with a focus on the key components of the Diploma in Assisted Living: Human Care and Community program: building community, fostering spirituality and celebrating individual giftedness.