In this blog Miro Griffiths, who joins us as Teaching Fellow in Disability Studies (School of Sociology and Social Policy), introduces his interests and experience.
It is a privilege to have the opportunity to work as a Teaching Fellow at the School of Sociology and Social Policy and Centre for Disability Studies. In 2010, I completed a Distance Learning Masters programme in Disability Studies at the University of Leeds. That programme laid the foundations for my thinking on disability: my identity became a political one, my activism committed to a rights-based approach, and the focus of my work remains to highlight and address the social injustices encountered by disabled people. For six years, I worked as a UK government adviser providing strategic and confidential advice to the New Labour and Coalition administrations. The role led to one of the most memorable moments in my life: attending the signing ceremony, as part of the UK delegation, for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. I have also worked as a project officer and adviser at the European Network on Independent Living, with a particular focus on youth participation, hate crime and building collaborative civil society and government networks within the Member States across Europe. Currently, I am a member of the Equality and Human Rights Commission Disability Advisory Committee – alongside Prof Anna Lawson. Also, I am involved in a number of disabled people’s organisations, including: Alliance for Inclusive Education and DaDaFest.
In terms of academia, initially I set out to work as a psychologist and completed an undergraduate degree in psychology at the University of Liverpool. I became frustrated with the field and came to the realisation that my values were at odds with the literature that I was reading. After the Masters in Disability Studies, I embarked upon a PhD and teaching position at Liverpool John Moores University. The PhD explored young disabled people’s experiences and views of the UK Disabled People’s Movement. It highlighted the challenges encountered by young disabled people as they attempt to participate and influence the Movement. This provided fascinating results, including: the connection between authority and social movements, the significance of the social model of disability, and the importance of archiving activism. With regard to the future, it is my intention to work on a number of research projects that will contribute towards disabled people’s emancipation. I have a particular interest in: disabled people’s experiences of activism and social movements, the future of assistive technology and robotic infrastructure, and experiences of accessible gaming (as well as disabled people’s representation within gaming narratives).
As a student, researcher and teacher at various universities, I believe that higher education is about exploring historical and contemporary ideas and having the space, time and resources to challenge our own – and others – thinking. It is about celebrating creativity and developing research skills to advance social justice and realise a fair, safe and inclusive society.
I look forward to meeting new people, assisting in any way possible and promoting the excellent research emerging from the Centre for Disability Studies.