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Experts to rethink learning disability

A cross-disciplinary team from the USA, Netherlands, and the UK will come together at the University of Dundee this week to try and develop a better understanding of the concept of 'learning disability'.

A seminar taking place at Dalhousie Building on Thursday, 22nd November will see researchers from the fields of history, geography, education, philosophy, community health, psychology and theology contribute a range of perspectives.

The participants will seek to shift the emphasis from the medical understanding of learning disability to a broader understanding, focused on the contexts within which people live their lives - families, communities, and support organisations and networks. People with learning disabilities, their carers and advocates, UK and Scottish government policy makers and key charities, will all also participate.

The seminar has been organised by researchers from the Universities of Dundee and Glasgow, who have an active interest in learning disability. They will be joined by the international line-up of experts. Entitled 'Rethinking Learning Disability: Contexts, Voices, Policies', it will be the first in a series of three seminars funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

According to Dr Ed Hall, one of the event organisers, the series offers a unique opportunity for the perspectives of academics and users to contribute to the development of more appropriate and effective policy and practice.

He said, "This is a really exciting 'coming together' of leading experts on learning disability from a diverse range of disciplines. It is the first seminar in a cross-disciplinary series, and we hope to achieve a better understanding of 'learning disability' and find a way to bridge the apparent divide between medical science and social science perspectives.

"The insights generated will be taken forward into two further seminars next year; and we hope to have a lasting impact, by encouraging further interdisciplinary academic dialogue, raising the profile of people with learning disabilities in research and policy development, and stimulating policy and practice that reflects the complexity of learning disability and peoples lives."

The seminar series is being organised by Dr Hall (Geography) and Dr Murray Simpson (Social Work) at Dundee, and Professor Chris Philo (Geography) from the University of Glasgow. It is accompanied by a blog which will include video interviews with the speakers, and audio recordings of the discussions to encourage ongoing discussion and debate.

Further information is available by contacting Dr Hall on e.c.hall@dundee.ac.uk or 01382 388073.


For media enquiries contact:
Grant Hill
Press Officer
University of Dundee
Nethergate, Dundee, DD1 4HN
TEL: 01382 384768

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