College of Liberal Arts welcomes new major: Women’s and Gender Studies

Story by Katie Simota

Students discuss in seminar-style classWomen’s Studies has been offered at CSU for 40 years – as an interdisciplinary minor, an undergrad certificate, and a graduate certificate – and now, in fall 2017, it’s available as a bachelor’s degree.

The bachelor of arts in Women’s and Gender Studies is housed in the Department of Ethnic Studies in the College of Liberal Arts. Women’s and Gender Studies looks deeper into the roles of women and gender in our society while also providing CSU students with opportunities to acquire the necessary skills for their career path.

“A Women’s and Gender Studies degree is not only relevant to navigating today’s complex, interconnected, and interdependent world, it also provides a framework for students to apply to their academic, professional, and personal lives,” said Caridad Souza, director of  The Center for Women’s and Gender Research.

When students explore how gender intersects with sexuality, race, ethnicity, class, ability, religion, and nationality, they better understand personal and political identities, a critical component to recognizing how power and privilege play out in work, politics, and culture.

Student  promotes the new Women's and Gender Studies bachelor at the CSU Street Fair
Student  promotes the new Women’s and Gender Studies bachelor’s degree at the CSU Street Fair

“In the program, difference is valued. We learn how to engage and interact with people who are different from us in a way that is beneficial for everyone,” said Jovan Lovato, a Women’s and Gender Studies and Social Work major.

Students can choose from an array of courses such as Black Feminism, Feminist Friendship, and Sexualities, Masculinities, and Race.

As a discipline, Women’s and Gender Studies also helps students develop their writing skills. Many of the topics discussed in class are complex and are not easily comprehended by taking a multiple-choice test, but are better understood through writing.

While acquiring the communication and writing skills that employers seek from graduates, students also have the opportunity to learn from faculty members engaged in Women’s and Gender Studies research. Many professors and instructors come from an interdisciplinary background, bringing perspectives from ethnic studies, sociology, and history.

Caridad Souza, director of The Center for Womens and Gender Research.
Caridad Souza, director of The Center for Women’s and Gender Research

“By taking courses from different areas, students explore academic disciplines from a feminist and gender studies perspectives and recognize how multiple systems of power and privilege intersect in our everyday lives,” said Souza.

The Women’s and Gender Studies program aligns with our university’s Land Grant values of inclusion, opportunity, and success, research that transforms our world, service to society,  and education to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.

“Women’s and Gender Studies, as well as Ethnic Studies, is a critical part of higher education,” said Joon Kim, professor and chair of Ethnic Studies. “These courses prepare our students to be competent employees and leaders, to be more understanding, and to be more empathetic.”