Re-Visiting Site Visits through the Lens of Disability Studies

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Emily Gravett


The site visit (also called “field trips,” “excursions,” even “field research”) is a well-known learning activity in religious studies classrooms. In this article, I will analyze site visits to reveal how ableism is embedded even in educational practices common to religion courses. First, I will provide a brief overview of disability studies, various models of disability, and the pervasive ableism that structures higher education. Next, I will describe the typical conceptions and components of a site visit, as illustrated by real religion syllabi, with consideration of the barriers that it may present for students who ‘deviate’ from the ‘norm.’ I will then introduce some principles of Universal Design and Universal Design for Learning, which may give readers ideas and tools for revising and expanding all of their assignments, including site visits. Finally, I will conclude with some (not definitive, admittedly, but specific) ideas for making site visits more inclusive.

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Disabilities and Pedagogy