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Rome, Italy

Program Description

Global Temple Conference

Temple Rome Summer Session II: Disability Identity: An International Perspective

The purpose of the program is to examine the individual, social, and environmental structures (e.g., family, school, government, community) that help to shape the identity of persons with various types of disability in contemporary society. Concomitantly, the program explores how the behavior of persons with disabilities influences the structures through individual contributions or participation in self-advocacy and activism (e.g., disability rights legislation, technology development, media portrayal). By considering disability identity as a function of continuous (and changing) interactions among various individual, social, and environment forces, the program encourages students to question stereotypes, to develop a critical understanding of the factors that influence the experiences of disability, to acknowledge the rich contributions of the disability community, and to identify the mechanisms that empower rather than confine people. 

For the purpose of this program, students will, furthermore, gain an understanding of challenges people with disabilities confront when trying to access cities and popular sites while home or while traveling. As part of the courses, students will be expected to examine personal, societal, and global attitudes toward individuals with disabilities; and develop their own positive attitudes toward individuals with disabilities, as well as advocate for the development of positive attitudes among other people. In addition, students will participate in learning activities designed to enhance their knowledge of accessibility issues in the U.S. and internationally, with a particular focus on Italy; and understand how leisure and disability transcend culture and geography.

Although some class meetings will be held at Temple Rome, the city of Rome will be used as the classroom throughout the program. A cornerstone of the program is the requirement for students to participate in extensive disability simulation activities and accessibility assignments out in the city with other students. These activities and assignments are designed to enhance knowledge of the access needs of individuals with disabilities. For example, students might learn how to experience art while blindfolded during a visit to the Galleria Borghese, or might learn first-hand some of the challenges that come with using a wheelchair, or assisting a person who uses a wheelchair, when using the Rome Metro and moving about the city in general, including for significant lengths of time. These activities can be physically strenuous.

In addition to regular class meetings and activities, the program will include a few required group meals and several debriefing sessions. Required meetings and activities are scheduled Monday-Friday.

Program participants must be open to engaging new cultures, settings, people, and disability; interested in and able to work in groups with different people; and able to be flexible as conditions change.