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Students Talk About their CRIS Majors and Minors

 

Madison Oakley 

Meet Madison Oakley - CRIS major

What makes you want to be a CRIS major or minor?

I took Sex and Power my freshman year and fell in love on the very first day. Throughout the class, I was able to explore topics of interest to me like pornography, women's work, and bodies. I was able to put a name to the theories I already beleived, as well as explore new theories and concepts. I declared my CRIS major in order to continue learning about these theories and apply them to the real world. 

If you've already taken CRIS courses, what has been your favorite reading orassignment? Why? OR, what CRIS course do you look forward to taking? Why?

I really geeked out about most of the readings and assignments in Sex and Power. My favorite assignment was probably the final paper in which we had to apply one of the theories to an object of our choosing. I chose to analyze a Veet commercial from Foucault's lens of docile bodies. I had a hard time choosing what to write about, simply because I look at the world with a feminist lens all the time. I also really enjoyed reading the intro to "The Curious Feminist" in CRIS 301 because I found it to be so relevant and applicable to Beloit.

What are your CRIS learning goals?

My first learning goal is to consider my privilege in all asoects of my life. This has already manifested in Sex and Power, but I believe that any class I will take at Beloit, whether CRIS or otherwise, will allow me to consider what sort of privileges I might have, how they are projected onto others, and how they contribute to the greater system of power and oppression.

Second, I want to focus my CRIS major on the notion of boundaries and compartmentalization in regards to identity and power. This is a fairly new learning goal of mine that was reified through Engendering Race: Boundary and the Self this semester which focuses on issues regarding boundaries, categories, and space. I will also engage more with these concepts during my summer research project in Seattle where I will explore how Universities and higher education students contribute to gentrification and the dichotomization of neighborhoods.

What do you want to do with your CRIS knowledge/skills in your post-Beloit life?

As I continue taking classes and asking myself this question I get closer and closer to a tangible answer. Currently, I see myself working for some organization (non-profit, interest group, NGO) that deals with human rights. "Human rights" of course is very vague, but I have so many interests that cover the whole spectrum. With time and new opportunities I'm sure I will be able to come up with a more specific answer.

What would you tell other students thinking about majoring or minoring in CRIS?

I tell so many students that they should take at least one CRIS class in their Beloit career be
cause, no matter what their interest, they will always learn something fascinating about themselves and the world around them, as well as learn how to be a more sensitive, respectful person.

I think a lot of Beloit students associate CRIS with women and gender studies, but it is so much more than that. I like to say that CRIS is less of a combination of different disciplines, and rather the study of how those disciplines and identities intersect.

  

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Meet Nadia Hecker-O'Brien - CRIS minor

What makes you want to be a CRIS minor?

I have taken CRIS courses throughout university and always thought it was important but recently I've been thinking about why having a minor specifically is important to me. I am a religious studies major and my focus in my major has always been very related to social justice, gender, race, etc. and I feel it is important to have my degree relfect the lens through which I've looked at the study of religion.

If you've already taken CRIS courses, what has been your favorite reading orassignment? Why? OR, what CRIS course do you look forward to taking? Why?

There have been a lot of courses and readings that have really stood out to me, both at Beloit and through my CRIS studies abroad. I think Linda Alcoff's "The Problem of Speaking for Others" is one of the most important pieces I've read in college. After studying abroad I wasn't sure how to process the space I took up and some of the research I did but Alcoff's work acted as an important framework for me to process my role. It evetually became a major part of my International Symposia as well.

What are your CRIS learning goals?

I think the reason my declaration is coming somewhat late is that I have only recently begun thinking seriously about what my future is going to look like. In thinking about the future I have realized that I hope to work in non-profit organizing and am considering eventually getting my MSW. In these fields and in anything else I decide to do I think it is so important I am not only aware of, but also engaged in the ways different parts of identity are working especially in my role as a white woman. I hope that by the end of my time at Beloit I do not think I have a complete understanding of indetity, power, privilege, etc. but rather that I have the tools to continue exploring these concepts and that I do not become so afraid that I ever shy from these very difficult conversations, which I implicated in.

What do you want to do with your CRIS knowledge/skills in your post-Beloit life?

As previously mentioned, I hope to work in non-profit organizing. My current plan is to develope my Spanish-language skills and work in Spanish speaking communities in New York, where my family lives. Eventually I am interested in getting my MSW from UBC.

What would you tell other students thinking about majoring or minoring in CRIS?

I think topics related to identity, oppression, and power are pervasive in all arenas. I would encourage anyone I knew to take a course in CRIS because I think everyone, in every field would greatly benefit from it.

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Meet Brittney - CRIS major

What makes you want to be a CRIS major?

My decision to become a CRIS major basically made itself. The CRIS program gives name, focus, and validity to what I had already been pursuing under the umbrella of WGST. The one thing that makes CRIS separates and elevates CRIS from WGST is its purposeful emphasis that studying just gender or just women is inadequate when analyzing systems of inequality and their formation, and often times, analyzing just one or two identity factors can become counterproductive to positive change. CRIS combats this contradiction by clearly acknowledging that a huge range of identity factors and historical changes play equally significant roles in identity formation and foundational systems. And I think that acknowledgement and specificity is vital.  

So far, my favorite CRIS course has been the special project I conducted last semester. Although it was then credited as WGST, it would most definitely meet the criteria to qualify as a CRIS course. In that project, I was able to research and analyze how race, masculinity, and hip hop culture influence common perceptions of female sexuality and these perceptions then influence the prevalence of sexual assault in the U.S. I favored this course because I was able to directly apply my intellectual pursuits to issues that have had and continue to have a profound impact on my daily life. Like many other CRIS courses, the opportunity for me to identify myself in large, complex, flowing systems provided an invaluable learning experience. 

What are your CRIS learning goals?

My learning goals for my CRIS major very much parallel the learning goals described in the CRIS catalog description, but specifically, I would like to focus my learning on the economic, gender, and race factors that profoundly influence popular, contemporary expressions of sexuality. Gender and Culture, Masculinities, and Thinking Queerly are all examples of classes that are going to help me further understand these factors. Each of these classes provides specific focus on one or two aspects of my learning goal. When I combine the focuses of each class, my learning goals can most likely be met.

What do you want to do with your CRIS knowledge/skills in your post-Beloit life?

This is a hard question and one that I am very much still processing mainly because I am already implementing my CRIS knowledge/skills everyday, so it is hard for me to think of just a few ways I plan to use them. However, in regards to my future plans, I have been playing around with a number of different ideas. I am pretty certain I would like to go on to pursue a higher degree in order to focus my area of specialization, and after that, I have considered some sort of teaching, particularly working to incorporate programs similar to CRIS into high school education. Additionally, I have been considering applying my CRIS education to an occupation that directly impacts the media and popular understandings of CRIS subjects. This could potentially be in the realms of advertising, marketing, or journalism.

What would you tell other students thinking about majoring or minoring in CRIS?

I would tell prospective CRIS majors and minors that CRIS is an area of study that directly intersects with themselves. In other words, the CRIS program has the rare potential to foster self-study and personal realization with simultaneous study of foundations, systems, and identities much broader and larger than one's self. And I think the double-work that CRIS facilitates is unlike any other learning experience and helps create a mode of thinking that other studies cannot.

 

  

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Meet Ousia - a recently declared CRIS major.

Right now, Ousia studying abroad at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso (Chile) through Beloit's International Student Exchange Program, but will return in Beloit in the spring to take more advanced seminars in Critical Identity Studies.

What makes you want to be a CRIS major?

I was very happy to see the new major, because it brings together a lot of fields that are important to me. As a Spanish major, and someone who hopes to work with immigrants and migrant communities in the US and beyond, understanding and appreciating multicultural and diverse identities is vital.

What are your CRIS learning goals?

I want to expand my knowledge and understanding of various feminist theories, especially through classes that analyze race, class, ability, and other facets of identity. I hope to be more fluent in discussing, explaining, and critically analyzing power structures that exist within global societies in order to help try to work for social justice in all that I do.

What do you want to do with your CRIS knowledge/skills in your post-Beloit life?

I hope to work for immigrant and worker justice in the US and in Latin America (among other things, of course). This might include going to graduate school for an interpretation degree, and will surely include direct-action and advocacy work on the US-México border. 

What would you tell other students thinking about majoring or minoring in CRIS?

Some might think that the major is too broad, and not understand the intersections between the different fields it covers. I would tell them that the intersections between the fields actually do make sense because the grouping reflects the multifaceted identities all people have, and it is important to recognize that overlapping to really understand people an

Renee

d groups.

 

 

Meet Renee  - a recently declared CRIS Minor.

What makes you want to be a CRIS minor?

The intersectionality of the courses really speak to my passion about societal issues that pertain to public health. CRIS helps me develop my understanding of identifying factors that impact an individual's decisions and resources.

What are your CRIS learning goals?

1. To understand motives of people and how their identities affect those motives in terms of public health.

2. Being able to take any identity I learn about and pinpoint aspects that would be affected by, or affect public health.

What do you want to do with your CRIS knowledge/skills in your post-Beloit life?

I want to use my CRIS education with a Health and Society Major to help people understand important health topics and to be a resource for the community in terms of guiding people to make healthy living choices.

What would you tell other students thinking about majoring or minoring in CRIS?

I would tell students that a major or minor in CRIS can enhance knowledge about ANY topic or discipline in relation to thinking critically about how someone's identity an be intertwined with it. It is useful to have this knowledge because it will benefit a person's career in seeing an interaction with people and dealing with them.

 

 

Rachel 

Meet Rachel - a CRIS Major     

What makes you want to be a CRIS Major?

I have been interested in the intersecting components of identity since I came to Beloit. My FYI (Politics of Identity) connected complex components of racism, sexism and classism in the U.S. From the FYI, I became passionately interested in the Women and Gender Studies program but desired some intersecting connection to other forms of identity (especially since Beloit does not have an ethnic studies department). Critical Identity Studies gave me a name and a program that I had already begun studying as a freshman. 

What are your CRIS learning goals?

My learning goals have been to be able to understand the way identity connects to other social structures, how they operate in the world and ways to create empowerment around different forms of oppression or privilege. To finish off my senior year I am hoping to take the liberal arts in practice capstone Translating the Liberal Arts and one more 300 level theory course (most likely Secularism & Fundamentalism) I believe bringing in new subjects on identity before I graduate can help me expand my CRIS education.

What do you want to do with your CRIS knowledge/skills in your post-Beloit life?

I am hoping to go to graduate school after I finish at Beloit. Quite a few peace studies and education graduate programs I have been looking at have shifted their disciplines to focusing on identity construction within the last 5 years. I want to bring an even more intersectional focus to these programs and create alternative public school programs that can allow high school students to experience this kind of alternative education as well. 

What would you tell other students thinking about majoring or minoring in CRIS?

I would probably tell them its ok for students to have a specific focus coming in, like my interest was specifically around race theory. I think some students are concerned that the new program is covering too many things but I think Critical Identity Studies is deeply connected to a lot of other academic studies (political science, psychology, religious studies, etc.) which means you can have a focus coming in but by the branching expansion of the new program you can learn a lot of other intersecting factors as well.