Why major in Gender & Women's Studies?
The Gender & Women's Studies undergraduate program offers both a major and a minor. Students pursuing the major may elect to fulfill concentrations in Chicana/Latina Studies and Sexualities/Queer Studies. Choose from over 50 courses plus internships and independent studies and are encouraged to learn about other cultures and societies through study abroad programs.
The mission of Gender & Women’s Studies is to promote and support teaching, research, and outreach that work to contest historical, ongoing, and pervasive oppressions based on gender, race, sexuality, class, ability, and citizenship. Gender & Women’s Studies aims to be an evolving interdisciplinary forum for scholarship on:
- feminist approaches to all scholarly investigation;
- the interconnected processes by which the social formations of gender, race, class, sexuality and nation are constructed, in the past and the present;
- feminist and related social movements;
- the constitution of women’s lives in diverse social contexts;
- and the analysis of diverse feminisms.
The Gender & Women’s Studies curriculum is grounded in the study of feminist theories. Students learn the variety of ways in which theorists account for the interconnected processes by which social formations such as gender, race, class, sexuality, ability, nation and others are constructed. Feminist approaches to research are frequently interdisciplinary, examining the subjects of scholarship from social, historical, economic, political, cultural and/or literary perspectives. Once students have been exposed to feminist theories they are encouraged to put those theories to use in their own research and writing.
The Gender & Women’s Studies approach to scholarship relies on critical thinking, deep reading, and clear writing skills. Small class size throughout the curriculum facilitates student-faculty interaction and provides numerous opportunities to learn and master critical thinking, rhetorical practices, and research skills. Gender & Women’s Studies courses teach information literacy that students then use to develop expertise in the formation of research problems and the construction of persuasive arguments (both written and oral) through small group work, collaborative engagement, and independent research.
Gender & Women’s Studies students learn about historical and contemporary social and political movements in the U.S. and throughout the world. Social and political movements for women’s rights, along with movements grounded in issues of race, class, ethnicity, gender identity, sexuality, and other social categories, constitute a significant part in the Gender & Women’s Studies curriculum. Students learn how the histories of feminist political action and of feminist thought developed in tandem.
Gender & Women’s Studies courses require students to understand a multiplicity of human experiences and material conditions and encourage global and transnational perspectives on research. Students acquire the knowledge and skills needed to contribute to a diverse society.
Gender & Women’s Studies students are provided with opportunities to engage in experiential and service learning and community activism. Through opportunities for internships as well as in class projects, students are encouraged to apply their learning in their communities. All GWS courses emphasize that student learning must be meaningful to the students themselves and should make a difference in the communities that students care about.
The Gender & Women's Studies undergraduate program offers students three possible tracks to complete. Each major concentration offers a unique interdisciplinary learning experience.
GWS students learn a variety of skills that are transferrable to any number of career paths. Students in GWS learn to read deeply, think critically, communicate clearly, and collaborate creatively. They learn to identify problems and seek equitable solutions to those problems. These are some of the top skills that are in demand in most workplaces. We provide an annual workshop on graduate programs and careers for Gender & Women’s Studies graduates. The senior capstone course actively supports student reflection on and preparation for postgraduate pursuits, including applications to graduate and professional schools, careers, and advocacy.
GWS graduates have pursued a wide diversity of post-graduate undertakings and careers among which are:
- Graduate Education in Law, Medicine, Gender and Women’s Studies, History, Ethnic Studies, Political Science, Religion and others
- Healthcare – including public health, social work, therapeutic services
- Education – including classroom teaching, higher education advising, workplace training
- Community Organizing
- Government service
- Executive Director Non Profit
- Graphic Art and Performing Art
- Program coordinating in fields such as houselessness, workers’ rights, reproductive justice
- And many more….
Pathway to a Life with Purpose
Through GWS classes, students gather a toolbox of skills that can be widely applied in a number of careers. But perhaps more importantly, GWS offers students a pathway to a life with purpose as they are consistently asked to engage critically and empathetically with the world around them. GWS students are awakened not only to the historical and current inequalities in the world but also are exposed to the powerful work and thinking of community leaders in seeking justice and healing. When students graduate with a GWS major or minor, they report feeling more connected to others and more purposeful about their future. Our graduates go on to work in and volunteer for dynamic and powerful organizations whose primary missions are to make life a little bit better for both human and nonhuman beings on earth.
Perhaps the best way to think about it is that when you earn a degree in GWS and folks ask what you will do with it, you can respond not only with the what but also the why.
Come find your why in Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Arizona!