Jessica Vorstermans

Associate Professor

Locations / Contact Info:

Stong College - SC
Keele Campus

Email address(es):

Faculty & School/Dept.

Faculty of Health - School of Health Policy & Management


PhD - 2017
York University

MA - 2008
Utrecht University
The Netherlands

BA - 2006
Western University


Dr. Vorstermans is an Assistant Professor in the Critical Disability Studies program in the School of Health Policy and Management, Faculty of Health at York University. Her research makes critical interventions into the field of international experiential and service learning and global citizenship, engaging plural ideas of human rights, disability and equity in our current neoliberal world. She uses Critical Disability theory and the lens of intersectionality to complicate North-South encounters engaging impairment and disablement. Her ongoing work engages community-based research, centers the perspectives and desires of those in the South and takes up equity, critical care in community, disability & North/South relations.

Before this appointment, she held a Postdoctoral fellowship on a large multi-partner longitudinal study at Ryerson University, The Inclusive Early Childhood Services System Project. The project uses institutional ethnography to map the experiences of families of disabled children in the institutional system in Ontario.

Throughout her PhD and as Executive Director of a small international experiential learning organization that is partnered with 10 partners in the Global South, her research has focused on centering the desires and perspectives of those in the Global South who welcome and host Northern volunteers to their small NGOs working in the fields of rights, disability, health equity, the environment and community work. She has deep and long-lasting relationships with these organizations and has collaborated on research with them to understand their experiences. Over the past fifteen years, she has lived, worked and completed research in Ecuador, Cuba, Guatemala, Paraguay, the Dominican Republic, and the Netherlands.

Selected Publications

Hillier, S.A., Chaccour, E., Al-Shammaa, H. & Vorstermans, J. Canada’s response to COVID-19 for Indigenous Peoples: a way forward?. Can J Public Health 111, 1000–1001 (2020).

Church, K., Vorstermans, J. & Underwood, K. (2020). Visualizations of Disabled Childhoods in Ontario.Canadian Journal of Disability Studies: Shapes and Sites of Transinstitutionalization. 9:3 Pp. 119-142.

Vorstermans, J. (2018). Imagining, constructing and reifying disability in volunteer abroad: Able Global Citizens Helping the Disabled Other. Journal of Global Citizenship and Equity Education, International Experiential/Service Learning: New Insights on Intersectionality, Solidarity and Ethical Relations. Editors: Rebecca Tiessen & Katie MacDonald. 

MacDonald, K. & Vorstermans, J. (2015). Struggles for Mutuality: Conceptualizing Hosts as Participants in International Service Learning in Ghana. In M. Larsen (Ed.), International Service Learning: Engaging Host Communities. New York: Routledge. 

Parekh, G., Vorstermans, J., Hearn, P. (2015). Media Monitoring from a Disability Rights Perspective: A Critical Piece in the Rights Monitoring Project In Advancing Rights: politics of disability monitoring and social change, Canadian Scholars’ Press Inc.       


Currently available to supervise graduate students: Yes

Currently taking on work-study students, Graduate Assistants or Volunteers: Not Indicated

Available to supervise undergraduate thesis projects: Yes

Current Research

International experiential and service learning and global citizenship; Critical Disability Theory; Human Rights, Disability and Equity; Disability and North/South relations.