Case 1: Equality of Opportunity
Arts based research has been touted as a way to promote hopeful dialogue, disrupt taken-for-granted assumptions, and “problematize dominant ideologies” (Leavy, 2009).
Photovoice is a method of doing research within a participatory action research framework. With this method we aim to break down the power dynamic between the researcher and the researched or the participants and empower our participants to become “co-researchers” in the process. The goal is to better understand the lived experiences of the folks we are working with, to bring awareness to aspects of their experiences that may be inequitable due to marginalization or oppression, and in some cases to advocate for societal change based on the findings.
The goal of this exhibit is to make the USC campus community aware of the experiences of people with disabilities’ experiences as college students. With the Agency in College course project, students in the CarolinaLIFE program used their photos of their experiences to define what self-determination looks like and feels like for them. In the Equity in Action course, students with disabilities and those who identify as allies used their photos to call out inequities that they see on the USC campus.
Our hope is that this exhibit brings about strong emotional and empathetic reactions and leads to a questioning of preconceived notions and ideas about the lives and experiences of people with disabilities on our campus. Even further, we hope that this participatory action research project reaches policy makers and stakeholders who have the power to make positive change at the University of South Carolina and in our wider community.
Often the voices of people experiencing marginalization are not heard and these projects were meant to amplify their voices.
Portions of this exhibit and research were supported by a USC SPARC Graduate Student Research Grant and a CEC Division on Career Development and Transition Graduate Student Grant.