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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 possible areas of scholarly investigation;
- the inextricably 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 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. Students choose from over 50 courses plus internships and independent studies. Students are encouraged to learn about other cultures and societies through study abroad programs.
An undergraduate degree in Gender & Women's Studies provides students with a wide array of skills and knowledge:
Knowledge of Feminist Theories and Methodologies
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 inextricably interconnected processes by which social formations such as gender, race, class, sexuality, ability, nation and others are constructed. Feminist methodologies put into practice the implications of feminist theories and often challenge traditional modes of research. Feminist approaches to research are frequently interdisciplinary, examining the objects of scholarship from social, historical, economic, political, cultural and/or literary perspectives.
Development of Critical Research Skills
The Gender & Women’s Studies approach to scholarship relies on critical thinking, reading and writing skills. Small class size throughout the curriculum facilitates student-faculty interaction and provides numerous opportunities to learn and practice critical-thinking, rhetorical and research skills. Students 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 courses teach information literacy through training in library and computer and Internet skills.
Knowledge of the History of Feminist and Other Social Movements
Gender & Women’s Studies students learn about historical social movements and contemporary movements in the U.S. and throughout the world. Social movements for women’s rights, along with movements grounded in issues of race, class, ethnicity 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, leading to the creation of Gender & Women’s Studies as a discipline.
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.
Opportunities for Activism
Gender & Women’s Studies students are provided with opportunities to engage individual and collective political action. Through opportunities for internships, students are encouraged to bring their expertise to community agencies and projects. Some Gender & Women’s Studies courses include a service learning component that allows students to earn credit for community work. NFSA, the Network of Feminist Student Activists, provides students with opportunities for political action, including voter registration, fair labor, and reproductive justice campaigns.
Career Related Skills
A Gender & Women’s Studies degree does not lead directly to a particular career, but students are encouraged to explore career and graduate school possibilities through internships and independent studies. 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. Graduates of Gender & Women's Studies go on to prestigious Ph.D., law, and medical programs; to careers in government, business and the nonprofit sector; and to directing programs that address issues such as teen pregnancy, homelessness, workers' rights, violence against women, and reproductive justice.