Dr. Jennifer Sarrett is currently a Lecturer at Emory University’s Center for the Study of Human Health, where she teaches courses in Health Humanities, Bioethics and Disability, and Mental Illness and Culture. Her work focuses on intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) as they relate to culture, disability rights, and ethics. She began working in the field of autism and developmental 15 years ago as a special education instructor and consultant in the U.S. and abroad. With the objective of studying the role of culture in the identification, understanding, and treatment of autistic children, she obtained her PhD from Emory’s Graduate Institute of Liberal Arts (ILA), a unique interdisciplinary program.
Dr. Sarrett uses mixed method social science to think about and solve problems related to access and equity for disenfranchised communities. She aims to discover and create innovative strategies to identify barriers to more integrated diverse communities as well as solutions to the challenges of minority populations in a variety of contexts. At present, her work explores the sources of discrimination and stigma—as well as solutions to combat these social forces—against people with disabilities. However this work necessities a consideration of all social identities, including race, gender, class, and sexuality and so she is also involved increasing access and opportunities in regards to these factors as well. She employs the fields of bioethics, neuroethics, disability studies, and human health. She uses innovative qualitative methods alongside public health, history, critical theory, anthropology, human geography, and medicine to ask and answer questions related to increasing access for people facing structural barriers as well as ethical issues related to this work. Further, I strive to ensure my work is understandable and useable by a range of lay, professional, and academic audiences.
Most recently, her work is looking into the experiences of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the criminal justice system. People with these disabilities face disproportionate harm by this system, whether the encounter the system as victims or the accused. I aim to identify the sources of these disparities and strategies to create a more just system for all.