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New Space Promotes Synergy Between Burton Blatt Institute and College of Law

January 7, 2020
Source: Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University

As a premier disability research and public policy institute whose work is tied to American civil rights laws, the Burton Blatt Institute’s new headquarters in Dineen Hall feels like home.

The Burton Blatt Institute (BBI) has moved into new headquarters in the College of Law’s Dineen Hall. BBI Chairman and University Professor Peter Blanck says the renovated space dovetails with the Institute’s mission to advance the civic, economic and social participation of persons with disabilities.

The offices are universally designed, which goes beyond accessibility, creating built environments that may be accessed, understood and used by everyone regardless of age, size or ability. The reconfiguration includes wide, technologically advanced doors, soft lighting, open corridors and flexible workstations.

Endowed and named for former Dean of the School of Education Burton Blatt—a disability rights pioneer—BBI was conceived as a transdisciplinary teaching, research, law and policy, and outreach initiative "to infuse disability advocacy into all aspects of the University and be embedded in the College of Law," says Blanck.

"Known for its leading-edge impacts on the lives and independence of persons with disabilities, BBI is a premier research and public policy institute creating strong partnerships and developing programs that thrive," says Craig Boise, dean of the College of Law. "Given that its work is grounded in American civil rights laws, it is appropriate that BBI should make its new headquarters in the College of Law. Intellectual synergies among BBI, law faculty and students spark new opportunities for research and training."

Unique global outreach efforts like arts workshops in Kazakhstan for children with disabilities are conducted by University Professor Stephen Kuusisto, an acclaimed poet, author and director of BBI’s interdisciplinary programs and outreach. And there’s more to come. Satellite offices have been established in Atlanta, New York City, Lexington, Kentucky, Washington, D.C., and—soon—Los Angeles.

New collaborations help BBI expand its portfolio of educational, research and engagement opportunities to Syracuse University students. BBI hires up to 25 students per semester, making it among the largest student employers on campus. Blanck says a primary goal is “to further develop experiential and online learning opportunities for law students and for outreach to the disability and legal communities. Ultimately, we want to be an important resource for the College and its students as lawyers of the 21st century."

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