Dr Pamela Cushing, friend of L’Arche, to receive Tanis Doe Award

Posted 2019-04-10

This award honours an individual who dares to “speak the unspeakable” in advancing the study and culture of disability, and who has enriched through research, teaching, or activism the lives of Canadians with disabilities.

Dr Pamela Cushing

The Canadian Disability Studies Association-Association canadienne d’études sur le handicap announced that Dr. Pamela Cushing of King’s University College at Western University, is the 2019 recipient of the CDSA-ACEH Tanis Doe Award for Canadian Disability Study and Culture. Congratulations Pam!

The CDSA-ACEH Tanis Doe Award was first awarded in 2009, and is named for the activist and professor Tanis Doe. This award honours an individual who dares to “speak the unspeakable” in advancing the study and culture of disability, and who has enriched through research, teaching, or activism the lives of Canadians with disabilities.

Below is an excerpt from the nomination letter prepared by Madeline Burghardt, Jeff Preston and Mel Quevillon:

Dr. Cushing is the founder of the Disability Studies program at King’s College. With its beginnings as a few courses within the Social Justice and Peace Studies program, Dr. Cushing has, with patience, creativity, and unfailing energy, nurtured the program since its inception 7 years ago to its current status as an independent department which offers more than a dozen courses to almost 900 undergraduate students. Its core message of ‘building understanding across difference,’ experienced through a hands-on case-based methodology, resonates with students seeking to imagine alternate and productive ways of fostering understanding and equity in society. The program has been enormously popular with the student body, quickly becoming the biggest program within the broader Department of Interdisciplinary Studies at King’s College.

Dr. Cushing brings a unique approach to Disability Studies. She encourages students to consider how disability “lives in our cultural imagination” and how that influences law, policy, and discourse, preparing DS students to be strong and articulate advocates with people with disabilities in Canada. Dr. Cushing endlessly creates new ways of fostering this kind of learning. She builds partnerships between the DS program and community groups, artists, activists, and policy-makers, seeking opportunities for discussion and dialogue from which students can benefit.

In addition, Dr. Cushing is the creator and founder of the Jean Vanier Centre, a new initiative that will begin its work with a symposium in June 2019 at King’s University College. The sole institution devoted to the work of Jean Vanier in Canada, Dr. Cushing’s vision includes facilitating dialogue about Vanier’s unique contribution to understandings of difference and the need for mutual understanding in society. In the near future, the Jean Vanier Centre at King’s will be a hub for archiving and inspiring international scholars engaging with Vanier’s work, especially encounters and intersections with disability, impairment and difference.


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