UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Being blind and belonging in academia Bulk, Laura Yvonne


Belonging is an essential human need. Developing a sense of belonging is important for people for whom academia is a place of learning, teaching, and employment. Academia – also known as educational institutions, higher education, post-secondary, college, or university – is a site of particular interest given the privilege engagement in this environment may imbue on individuals and communities. Moreover, academia is also problematic from the perspective of disabled people due to the ableist expectations embedded within it. Academia, and developing a sense of belonging there, may be particularly important for people from equity-seeking groups, including blind people. The general topic of this dissertation is an exploration of belonging in academia, from non-blind and blind perspectives. Following the introduction, chapter 2 presents a model – the Belonging in Academia Model - that explicates how sense of belonging develops in academia through five dimensions: affiliation, familiarity, acceptance, trusting connections & interdependent relationships, and equity. The dissertation goes on to examine blind and partially blind peoples’ experiences of belonging and non-belonging in academia, elucidating key nuances such as the importance of interdependence, feeling like a burden, and needing to perform as a disabled person. In chapter 3 this dissertation highlights scholarly teaching in the form of a workshop designed using research-based theatre as an affective pedagogical tool. Finally, preceding the conclusion, chapter 4 shares a brief exploration of doing ‘insider’ research as a blind scholar with blind people. Supplementary materials available at: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/77292.

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