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New name, new vision for Women's and Gender Studies at Elon

Women's and Gender Studies becomes Women's, Gender, and Sexualities Studies; announces enhanced vision, curricula and programming

This fall, Elon’s Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS) program is becoming Women’s, Gender, and Sexualities Studies (WGSS), and implementing revised curricula and programming to reflect an enhanced focus on scholarship and critical inquiry. The re-envisioned WGSS program will be the academic home for mentoring, pedagogy and scholarship dedicated to critical inquiry about women, gender, sexualities and feminism at Elon.

The new name and vision comes after a yearlong review led by the program’s advisory council. The review included research with current WGS minors and faculty, assessment of programs at peer and aspirant universities, review of LGBTQIA Task Force recommendations, and mapping out synergies and distinctions with other Elon initiatives such as the Inclusive Community, the Gender and LGBTQIA Center and the student-led EFFECT organization. The advisory council held workshops and strategy sessions to analyze its findings and develop a revised vision and purpose for the program.

“Twenty six years ago when WGS was created, and for many years after, WGS was perhaps the only initiative in the Elon community expressly focusing on issues of gender, sexuality, and the systematic oppression of women,” said Kim Epting, the program director for WGSS. “Today, because of Elon’s strategic plan and an increased understanding of intersectionality, these issues have gained broader acceptance and attention from many different departments and initiatives at Elon. Our recommitment to being the academic home for scholarship and critical inquiry reflects the purpose of WGSS within these broader initiatives and our role in creating academic excellence by promoting and connecting WGSS-related pedagogy and scholarship across our community."

Through academic curricula, student and faculty research, and campus events, the WGSS program will concentrate on six areas of emphasis: critical inquiry, interdisciplinarity, identity, intersectionality, societal structures, and turning critical inquiry into action. The advisory council has been enhancing the curriculum for the WGSS minor, including reviewing and revamping the WGS 110 Sex and Gender and WGS 300 Current Controversies in Feminism courses, and assessing and adding to its multidisciplinary courses to reflect the new name and vision. Minors in the WGSS program have more than doubled in the past three years, and students in a variety of disciplines take the WGS 110 Sex and Gender course. With increased interest in this course, WGSS is adding an additional section of WGS 110 in the spring. The advisory council also invites faculty to submit course proposals and syllabi for cross-listing their courses with WGSS.

From a programming standpoint, WGSS will be holding recruitment and networking events for WGSS minors, hosting workshops for faculty engaged in WGSS-related research, highlighting faculty and student scholarship, sponsoring speakers and panels that focus on WGSS critical inquiry, and creating stronger connections with WGSS alumni. WGSS is also creating a webpage to connect faculty and students interested in and/or working on WGSS-related scholarship.

“WGSS scholarship and interests are represented widely and diversely across our campus," Epting said. “Our goal is to connect and strengthen those interests. Our website will be a place where students can go to learn about WGSS-related courses, where faculty can connect with others doing similar work of interest, and where students can find mentors to help them with their own scholarship or activism."

Students interested in minoring in WGSS, and faculty interested in teaching a WGSS course, connecting with other WGSS scholars, or cross-listing their courses with WGSS can visit the website at: http://www.elon.edu/eweb/academics/elon_college/wsgs/default.xhtml

Lee Bush,
11/9/2015 2:40 PM