The Center of Human Policy was founded in 1971 in response to widespread abuse of and discrimination against people with disabilities in society. The Center’s philosophy and activities grew out of the institutional exposés of is founder and first director, School of Education dean emeritus Burton Blatt. Throughout its history, the Center has been deeply involved in strengthening disability and parent groups and creating positive attitudes toward people who have disabilities.
During its early years, Center staff members confronted the mass warehousing of children with disabilities and school exclusion through investigations, community education, legal advocacy, and the development of model programs. Christmas in Purgatory (1967), Blatt’s exposé of institutional abuse of people with disabilities, stirred the nation into noticing a group of people who had silently been locked away from its view, and was the impetus for the national community inclusion movement.
In 2004, the Center partnered with the Syracuse University College of Law and the then-named College of Human Ecology to form the Center on Disability Studies, Law, and Human Policy. The center expanded the work of the CHP across even more disciplines, and established academic partnerships that continue today through the Disability Law and Policy Program.