Allison Weiner HeinemannLecturer
Allison Weiner Heinemann teaches ILRLR 1200: Introduction to Disability Studies, ILRLR 2060: Writing Seminar in Law (disability-related topics), and ILRLR/FGSS 4035: Intersectionality in Disability Studies. Her work focuses on disability law, intersectional approaches to disability studies, and writing pedagogy. In 2014, she was awarded the MacIntyre Award for Exemplary Teaching, and in 2018, the Robert N. Stern Award for Teaching and Mentoring. She has been named four times (2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020) by Merrill Presidential Scholar recipients as the Cornell faculty member who most significantly contributed to their college experience. She also serves as the founding advisor to Perspectives: The Cornell Undergraduate Journal of Disability Studies. Allison Weiner Heinemann holds a Ph.D. in comparative literature from Yale University.
At ILR, I have the privilege of instructing students in advanced writing seminars on how to develop sustainable techniques for clear, well-organized, and well-developed writing. My course focuses topically on the disability experience through a variety of disciplinary texts, from historical documents to legal cases to contemporary first-person accounts, through both theoretical and applied perspectives. Careful, attentive discussion of the texts in question, which is often a new practice for students primarily used to large lecture classes, brings a heightened awareness of the importance of language, whether through our analytical examination of the history of words used to classify disability in policy and law, or the close interpretation of a single term upon which a Supreme Court decision hinges. In working through such modeled inquiries in small groups and in class discussion, students begin to understand the implications of the linguistic choices that they make in their own papers, as well as the constant need for precision--the hallmark of good writing.
Further, the disability studies sequence affords me a unique opportunity to educate ILR students—in addition to the many students from across the university who are attracted to our important program—on inclusion and equity for people with disabilities in the workplace, and beyond. In doing so, I necessarily make clear that we must be attentive to the heterogeneity of perspectives and lived experiences, especially of multiply-marginalized individuals, within the disability community. Thus, I consistently strive to center and amplify those experiences within our course materials, as well as invite guest speakers with lived experience from the Cornell and greater communities. I am committed to not only teaching about, but in accordance with, Universal Design principles.
I also view my honors thesis advising as a central component of my teaching. While I want my students to feel confident about independently developing and pursuing substantive research and scholarship, I firmly believe in providing close, attentive feedback on both students' process and writing, so as to allow for the richest intellectual dialogue and growth possible.
I consider a great deal of my pedagogical work to additionally happen outside of structured classroom experiences. That includes one-on-one meetings with students, especially for my writing seminar students who are required to have conferences with me, but who also wonderfully elect to consult with me as much as possible during the writing process. While I always seek in my actual classrooms to create a space in which students can ask for clarification without any inhibition, freely and meaningfully exchange ideas, and even voice their own lived experiences, I also ensure that I am widely available outside of the classroom to facilitate further opportunities for learning and for sharing.
By appointment of the Tompkins County Legislature, I serve on the Developmental Disabilities Subcommittee of the Mental Health Community Services Board.
Honors and Awards
- Recognition by a Merrill Presidential Scholar Recipient as the Cornell Faculty Member Who Most Significantly Contributed to Their College Experience, Cornell University. 2020
- Recognition by a Merrill Presidential Scholar Recipient as the Cornell Faculty Member Who Most Significantly Contributed to Their College Experience, Cornell University. 2019
- Recognition by a Merrill Presidential Scholar Recipient as the Cornell Faculty Member Who Most Significantly Contributed to Their College Experience, Cornell University. 2018
- Robert N. Stern Award for Teaching and Mentoring, ILR School. 2018
- Recognition by a Merrill Presidential Scholar Recipient as the Cornell Faculty Member Who Most Significantly Contributed to Their College Experience, Cornell University. 2017
- MacIntyre Award for Exemplary Teaching, ILR School. 2014