Allan Goldstein Hailed as an Innovator by the Chronicle of Higher Education
It’s been a banner few years for Senior Lecturer Allan Goldstein, who teaches Disabilities Studies to aspiring engineers seeking to create new adaptive technologies and human-centered designs.
He was most recently included by the influential periodical Chronicle of Higher Education on its inaugural list of Teaching Innovators: “faculty members who are using fresh approaches in their classrooms to help their students succeed [and] those who are in it for the long haul, who constantly revise their teaching to find what works, who deeply want to connect with their students.”
In Goldstein’s case, those connections — not only with students but with disability advocates and other community stakeholders — run deep.
~ Peter Cobb, the director of community outreach at ADAPT Community Network
The Chronicle cited a popular course he has developed that pairs engineering students with adults who have disabilities: one section involving people with cerebral palsy and another involving those with intellectual or developmental disabilities. “The course requires extensive interaction, including visits to the agencies where those with disabilities attend day programs,” the Chronicle’s reporter wrote in explaining the impetus for honoring Goldstein. “The goal is to get the engineering students — some of whom will eventually design buildings that must accommodate the needs of the disabled — to see that people with disabilities have the same needs and wants as anyone else.” Peter Cobb, the director of community outreach at ADAPT Community Network (formerly known as United Cerebral Palsy of New York City), told the publication, “The class is unlike anything that I’ve personally seen [in working in this field for more than 30 years]. I really do think it’s changing lives on both sides.”
The publication noted that Goldstein, who earlier in his life was a professional actor, had no graduate-school training in disability studies when he developed his innovative course, making his accomplishments all the more noteworthy (he has since earned a master’s degree in disability studies in 2015).
For his part, Goldstein says, “Being featured in the Chronicle for Higher Education as an educator is, for me, a former actor, equivalent to being on Broadway. CHE’s extensive reach into the teaching field enables me to effectively promote experiential learning, and perhaps more importantly, show the importance of inclusion.”
Being named as a Teaching Innovator is just the latest great news to emerge from Goldstein’s classroom, however. Read on to learn more about his work...
- In February of this year, Goldstein garnered one of NYU’s most prestigious honors: the Martin Luther King, Jr. Faculty Award, which recognizes professors who exemplify King’s teachings and commitment to social justice, and who, as Provost Fleming said at the awards ceremony, “push the envelope and encourage us to think in new ways and . . . to venture outside the walls of the university and align our scholarship and teaching with our actions.”
- His course was the subject of an award-winning documentary film, The Ability Exchange, directed by Bing Wang and described by IndieWire as “an empathy engine.”
- He is an integral member of the NYU Ability Project, an innovative interdisciplinary research space dedicated to the intersection between disability and technology. Work being undertaken in the space aims to increase access to creative coding and code learning for people with low-vision and blindness, help children with autism better follow social cues, create interactive methods for stroke rehabilitation, make the museum-going experience more accessible, and other such goals.
- He was instrumental in establishing a new multi-school initiative that allows aspiring engineers to earn a minor in Disabilities Studies, educates them about the historical, social, and legal circumstances that shape the experience of disability and helps them discover ways in which they can put their engineering knowledge to use in the field. “People with disabilities are not different — they are just living differently, and an engineer with an understanding and awareness of that can make an enormous impact,” he explained during the launch of the initiative.
- A participant in Goldstein’s Disabilities Studies course has earned a patent for his device: the Limitless Stylus, which allows users with limited mobility to easily use touchscreen devices and gain more independence.