A visit from Professor Leslie Swartz during Disability Week (16 – 20 May)
Rhodes University had the pleasure of welcoming Professor Leslie Swartz from Stellenbosch University during disability week (16 – 20 May). Professor Swartz has interests in the fields of disability studies and mental health. He is also the editor in chief of the African Journal of Disability and serves on multiple editorial boards.
Professor Swartz presented a seminar in the Psychology department on 16 May addressing the ways in which we think (and don’t think) about disability in Psychology. He highlighted some important themes around the ways in which disability is represented in the media, but also the ways in which it has been written about within the discipline of Psychology. Drawing on recent events (such as the Oscar Pistorius case) and popular movies, books, and series, he drew attention to the ways in which disability is positioned across various media, and how this can easily shift in response to particular events.
Professor Swartz also presented a seminar on writing for publication on the 17th of May to a group of PhD students (who are also staff members in the department). All who attended found the seminar highly useful and simultaneously entertaining with some down-to-earth anecdotes and pearls of wisdom from a highly experienced and applauded writer. Following this workshop, Professor Swartz presented a talk in the Eden Grove building on Disability, Access, and Higher Education, and drew attention to the ways in which access remains a pertinent issue for higher education institutions in terms of the ways in which institutions are typically designed for able-bodied individuals, and the kinds of attitudes and ways of thinking that perpetuate ableism in higher education. This was a well-attended talk with some important questions and issues being raised by both Professor Swartz and those who attended his highly engaging talk.