On this page: Major Description | Requirements | Learning Objectives
The Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies Major
Illustration by Julio Salgado, commissioned by the #Health4All campaign
Whose stories are we not hearing? How do feminist scholars and activists challenge those silences?
Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies (GWSS), historically referred to as Women's Studies, is a cutting edge interdisciplinary field that examines social and political realities shaped by gender, sexuality, and power. We approach topics from transnational and intersectional perspectives, enabling students to analyze and address issues of gender, sexuality, and social difference at personal, historical, institutional, and structural levels. In our classes we study texts, histories, and experiences from the Global North and South, and examine gender and sexuality as they intersect with race, class, ethnicity, nation, ability, cisgender privilege and other forms of power.
GWSS is devoted to generating and bringing visibility to many kinds of feminist knowledge production such as women of color feminism, transfeminism, queer feminism, feminist science and technology studies, and more. GWSS scholars therefore represent a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds, and conduct research in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and arts.
More information about career possibilities or pursuing graduate school.
IAS also offers a minor in Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies.
GWSS Social Media
Find out about GWSS events and join the conversation on our Facebook page.
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GWSS Major Requirements
While there are no official prerequisites beyond the requirements for admission into the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, students choosing this major will find it especially helpful to have completed college coursework in feminist studies, history and culture, sociology, or literature.
- BIS 300 Interdisciplinary Inquiry* - min. 2.0 grade (5 credits)
- BISGWS 301 Critical Gender and Sexualtity Studies (5 credits)
- BISGWS 302 Histories and Movements of Gender and Sexuality or BISGWS 303** Approaches to Feminist Inquiry (5 credits)
- GWSS Coursework (30 credits)
- BIS 499 Portfolio Capstone - min. 2.5 grade (5 credits)
- Additional IAS Coursework (20 credits)
TOTAL = 70 Credits
* Should be taken in the first quarter of IAS enrollment.
** GWSS faculty HIGHLY recommend students take both BISGWS 302 & 303. If a student completes both BISGWS 302 and BISGWS 303, 5 credits from these courses can be applied toward the student's GWSS coursework requirement.
School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences (IAS) Requirements & Policies
Interdisciplinary Practice & Reflection (IPR)
The IPR requirement can be completed through elective credits or it can overlap with major coursework. Students might consider speaking to an IAS advisor or GWSS faculty coordinator for suggestions of IPR options particularly suited to the major.
Areas of Knowledge
25 credits must be completed in each Area of Knowledge. The Areas of Knowledge are: Visual, Literary and Performing Arts(VLPA), Individuals and Societies (I&S), and Natural World (NW). Multiply-designated courses cannot fulfill two Areas of Knowledge. Courses may apply to both an Area of Knowledge requirement and an GWSS major requirement.
Upper Division Credit Policy
Of the credits applying to GWSS major requirements, a minimum of 48 must be completed at the Upper Division (300-400) level.
With the exception of the General Electives, courses taken to satisfy GWSS amajor requirements must be completed in matriculated status.
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Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies Learning Objectives
The Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies curriculum advances the four core IAS learning objectives: Critical and Creative Thinking; Interdisciplinary Research and Inquiry; Writing and Communication; Shared Leadership and Collaboration. Students majoring or minoring in Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies will be able to:
- Think critically about the operation of gender and sexuality at personal, institutional, and structural levels.
- Situate and analyze gender and sexuality at local, national, and transnational levels.
- Critically examine the intersection of gender and sexuality with other vectors of identity, power, and privilege such as race, ethnicity, nationality, class, age, and ability.
- Undertake critical interdisciplinary research that understands the role of cultural norms and assumptions especially, but not limited to, gender and sexuality in knowledge production.
- Collaborate with peers and off campus communities to engage in scholarly and creative activities that intervene in existing debates and create new ways of engaging issues of gender and sexuality.
- Write and communicate clearly about feminist theories and manifestations of power and resistance.
Image by GWSS student Nicole Carter
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