Program Information

Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Professors Bailey (Chair), Caballero, Dickey, Hellwarth, McCullough, Riess, Shaw, Werner, Wesoky, Yochim

Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) is an interdisciplinary program that is interdivisional. It is designed to foster intellectual development in: the study of women, gender, and sexuality in local, national, and global contexts; the intersectional analysis of gender, race, class, sexuality, nation, age, and ability; power, systems of privilege, and resistance; and the links between feminist and queer theory within analyses of everyday life and social change. Drawing on multiple perspectives, methods, and theoretical frameworks, the program teaches critical thinking through cultural analysis, logical reasoning, abstract thinking, and argumentation while engaging students in self-reflection and asking them to apply knowledge for social transformation and engaged citizenship. The objectives of the major are 1) to provide a coherent body of scholarship in the fields to examine women, gender and sexuality; 2) to analyze critically the hierarchies and cultural stereotypes based on difference and diversity that shape our lives; 3) to analyze critically historical events; socio-political, cultural, and scientific perspectives; and creative works, all key to understanding feminist and queer studies; and 4) to provide instruction in research methods for investigating women, gender and sexuality.

WGSS draws upon the disciplines of Art, Biology, Dance & Movement Studies, Communication Arts, Economics, English, Environmental Science, History, Modern and Classical Languages, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, and Religious Studies. It permits flexibility in course selection so that students’ individual interests and needs are met, while at the same time encouraging a developmental and substantively focused approach to understanding Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies as an academic field.

Note: students may not complete programs in both Women’s Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Women’s Studies, nor in both Women’s Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies.

Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Learning Outcomes

Students in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program are expected to achieve Learning Outcomes in two areas: Content and Theories, and Research Methods.

Content and Theories

  • Show how critical analysis of gender and sexuality contributes to an understanding of the historical and contemporary formations of patriarchy, heteronormativity, and gender normativity;
  • Achieve a knowledge base about women’s and LGBTQ+ people’s role in history—their contributions, oppression, and resistance;
  • Describe the manner in which race, class, gender, and sexuality intersect;
  • Become aware of women’s and LGBTQ+ people’s experience in cultural contexts, both nationally and globally, including understanding the roles of gender and sexuality in social justice movements around the world;
  • Define and describe a range of theories that underlie feminist and queer analysis, understanding their similarities and differences;
  • Describe how theories reflect the historical and cultural context in which they emerge.

Research Methods

  • Utilize feminist and queer methodological approaches and explain their role in building knowledge;
  • Compare and contrast different feminist and queer theories and methodological approaches;
  • Critique scholarly works from a feminist and queer theoretical and methodological standpoint;
  • Develop a working knowledge of the connections between women’s studies and queer studies scholarship, activism, and social change.