In 2017 and 2018 I have had the privilege to work with the Athena Institute at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, teaching two courses on disability issues, taking charge of some important departmental reports, supervising student research. So far it has been one of the most enjoyable period of my working life. It has meant learning from students as they pursue research interests in areas that are new to me, and helping them fine-tune their focus on important topics like disability-related stigma and health (in)equalities.
I have also completed a major project for Disability Studies in Nederland: Included in Training and Work. Working with a group of international researchers, policymakers and disability activists, I supervised the research process, won funding for and ran a Lorentz Centre residential research and policymaking workshop at the University of Leiden, and edited the final result–a simple, clear, evidence-based document on including people with disabilities in vocational education and work. The document was presented to the UWV (Dutch benefits and work agency) in November 2017, and sent to many agencies, Disabled Peoples Organisations, and international organisations. Plans are afoot to create an expanded version in book form in 2018–watch this space!
And I’ve even been teaching Media Studies and Communication again, via Webster University in Leiden. It’s great to be working with undergraduates on media projects again, and helping them to improve their interpersonal communication skills.