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Applications Open for First Cohort of Global Leaders in Disability Studies and Public Policy

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Washington, DC, 17 May – Students from around the world can now apply to enter the inaugural class of Southeast Asia’s first virtual Master’s program on disability and public policy. The Master’s of International Affairs in Comparative and International Disability Policy (CIDP), offered by the School of International Service at American University, is the centerpiece program of the Institute on Disability and Public Policy (IDPP) for the ASEAN Region. The IDPP is a collaborative effort of four founding academic institutions and two supporting partners, funded by The Nippon Foundation. The degree is taught in a blended cyberlearning environment, and focuses on the complex intersection of disability studies and public policy.

At the forefront of technological innovation, the IDPP promotes an inclusive, barrier-free, and rights-based environment in Southeast Asia by providing increased access to higher education for a traditionally underrepresented population: persons with disabilities. The program’s cyberinfrastructure cuts across geographic boundaries, allowing faculty to teach and students to be taught entirely online.

“Through a network of outstanding universities and accessible cyberlearning techniques, we will enable students to become leaders on international disability policy in the public, private, and NGO sectors,” states Dr. Derrick L. Cogburn, Dean and Executive Director of the IDPP. Fifteen full fellowships per year will be awarded by The Nippon Foundation, with preference given to students from the ASEAN region who are blind, deaf, and/or mobility impaired, further increasing opportunities for high-potential persons with disabilities.

Led by the Center for Research on Collaboratories and Technology Enhanced Learning Communities (COTELCO), a joint research center at American University and Syracuse University (, the IDPP is a partnership of the School of International Service at American University; Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand; the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore; and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York. Supporting organizations are the Asia-Pacific Development Center on Disability (APCD) in Bangkok and the International Council on Education for People with Visual Impairment (ICEVI). Also collaborating with the IDPP are the ASEAN Studies Center, the Intercultural Management Institute, the Disability Student Support Services at American University, and the Burton Blatt Institute: Centers of Innovation on Disability at Syracuse University.

The Master’s program will begin with a two-week residency at Mahidol University from 18-29 July 2011, where an international faculty will introduce students to ASEAN affairs, cross-cultural communication, and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Afterwards, students will disperse to their locations of residence for the duration of the program.

The Asia Pacific region has one of the world’s highest proportions of persons with disabilities. The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) estimates as many as 400 million people with disabilities living in the region. These individuals continue to face significant barriers in accessing information, education, and employment. The IDPP is designed to address these issues.

Please visit to access more information and the online application.

PDF copy of this press release.