University of Rochester

Conference Addresses Ideology, Politics of Inclusion

May 21, 1999

At a time when growing numbers of educational systems are facing how and why to classify and instruct students with disabilities, scholars and researchers in the field will gather at the University of Rochester for an international conference on ideology and the politics of inclusion June 14 to 17.

A $50,000 grant from the Spencer Foundation will fund the conference, which will be hosted by the University's Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development.

Conference organizer Linda Ware, an assistant professor at the Warner School, said the Spencer funding recognizes the fact that these discussions are critical for shaping the future of educational research to encourage more open inquiry than that which has dominated the field of special education.

"The conference will expand the field of inquiry to invite new knowledge sources in partnership with individuals who live the disability experience, often with little consideration of their voices, their struggle, and their success," said Ware. "The research by our presenters is done in partnership with parents, children, adults, teachers, policymakers and others, with the explicit goal to better inform educational practice and to improve the lives of children and adults with disabilities," she said.

Ware, who received her doctorate in special education from the University of Kansas, has written on such topics as the organizational challenges for inclusive schooling, curriculum revision in mathematics and computer technology for inclusive classrooms, and issues of identifying youths labeled "disabled" by schools.

Among the distinguished speakers will be researchers from universities in Australia, Canada, England, New Zealand, Norway, Scotland, and the United States. Following the conference, Ware will edit a book on the presentations titled Ideology and The Politics of Inclusion.

The conference is geared to professors, researchers and graduate students of education who are interested in special education, disability issues, social work, cultural studies, medicine and related interdisciplinary work on disability. During the evenings, there will be informal panel discussions of the day's papers. Those are open to the public, but registration is required.

As conference participants gather, the annual meeting of the International Research Colloquium on Inclusive Education also will be held here. That group, which will meet in North America for the first time, considers the meaning and implications of including children with disabilities in regular classroom settings.

Funding for the conference comes from the Spencer Foundation, which was established to investigate ways in which education in its broadest sense can be improved around the world. Since 1968, the foundation, which is based in Chicago, has made grants totaling approximately $180 million.

For information on the conference, call Ware at (585) 275-3010 or e-mail