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Institute and Temple Host International Conference

April, 2010

Photo: Student Center at Temple UniversityThe Society for Disability Studies will hold its annual conference on the main campus of Temple University from June 2 through June 5. As many as 500 scholars from around the world are expected to attend this year's conference themed "Disability in the Geo-Political Imagination."

"Such a theme arrives at a timely moment in the wake of the signing of the United Nations Charter on the Rights of People with Disabilities by leaders in 140 nations," says David Mitchell, Executive Director of the Institute on Disabilities. "As a result of the emergence and ratification of this convention, disability has become a more visible topic within the public sphere."

The conference begins on the evening of Wednesday, June 2 with a gala event at Temple University's newly renovated "Baptist Temple." This magnificent venue, originally a house of worship within which the first university level classes were held for neighborhood students, is resplendent with original and newly-designed stain glass windows, a world-class sound system and seating for 1500 people. The evening will be dedicated the life and career of Teddy Pendergrass, a Philadelphia resident who, during his lifetime, fought for the rights of all people, including people with disabilities.

Photo: Historic Baptist Temple at Temple University, after renovationThe headliner will be Melba Moore, the award winning performer who began her career in the ground breaking musical "Hair," and went on to star in the "The Melba Moore / Clifton Davis Show," the mini-series "Ellis Island," and had R & B and POP hits "This Is It," "You Stepped Into My Life," and as well as recording her Grammy nominated signature song, "Lean On Me." After her Tony-award winning performance as Lutiebelle Gussiemae Jenkins in the long running musical "Purlie," Ms. Moore became the first black actress to step into a role in the milestone Broadway musical "Les Miserables." In addition to her busy career, Ms. Moore is an ardent advocate for the rights of children resulting in her "Melba Moore Foundation for Abused & Neglected Children."

The evening will also include comedy, performance art by disabled artists as well as a discussion panel on race and disability that will introduce innovative work in Philadelphia regarding "cultural brokering" where community leaders and people of color with disabilities address their unique needs around pressing social issues.

On Thursday, the work of the conference begins in with events across campus. Much of the action will take place at the Howard Gittis Student Center on North 13th Street, on Temple's main campus. The meeting rooms will host sessions throughout the day, films will be shown in the movie theater on the lower floor of the center, a book sales area will be set aside and quiet rooms will be available in the area. The plenary session will be held at Alter Hall, Temple's newest, state-of-the-art building and home of the Fox School of Business.

The final event for the conference will be the annual dance open to attendees and their guests.

Founded in 1982, The Society for Disability Studies is a scholarly organization dedicated to the cause of promoting the disability studies as an academic discipline. Through research, artistic production, teaching and activism, the Society's mission is to augment understanding of disability in all cultures and historical periods, to promote greater awareness of the experiences of disabled people, and to advocate for social change.

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