Women's & Gender Studies
Women's and gender studies creates a framework for examining the historical, cultural, political, economic, and global conditions central to understanding both women as gendered beings and the processes of gender construction for all humans. Such processes are inextricably bound up in a complex matrix of other identity categories which include race, class, sexuality, ethnicity, nationality, religion, physical ability, and so forth. Both the major and the minor use interdisciplinary core courses, topics courses, and a number of disciplinary-based, cross-listed courses to engage students in an investigation of, theoretical approaches to, and active learning around, gendered identities, representations, and bodies.
The major in women's and gender studies is comprised of ten units that include core introductory and advanced courses that survey theoretical approaches to studying women and gender, courses that offer historical grounding relevant to a particular cultural context in which women and gender are a focus, a course or study-abroad experience that centers around some international or global aspect of women and gender, an internship that requires students apply their knowledge about women and gender in a environment outside the classroom, and the completion of a senior seminar community research project and senior portfolio.
The program also offers a five and a half unit minor in women's and gender studies studies that requires students take two of the three introductory courses, a 300-level theory course, and complete an additional two and a half units of WGST coursework.
THE BROADER CONTEXT
Women's and gender studies at Beloit takes place in a context in which faculty, staff, and students actively engage each other. The women's and gender studies leadership committee (WGSLC) is a mutually supportive group of faculty, staff, and students (and, hopefully in the future, community members) who each take leadership roles in facilitating projects that create awareness around social inequities and/or advance social justice causes on campus and/or the larger Beloit community. The leaders of the various projects, along with the chair of the WGST program, comprise the administrative body for women's and gender studies at Beloit College.
Since the early 1970s there has been a campus Women's Center, which houses a library and a living-learning residence hall. Although not formally part of the women's and gender studies program, the center contributes to an atmosphere supportive of gendered identities and differencesthrough a continuing series of open discussions, performances, organized actions, and readings.
The women's and gender studies program benefits greatly from the support of many units on campus that co-sponsor events organized through the program.. Recent events have included a student-coordinated Third Wave Feminism conference that featured speakers such as sociologist Nancy Naples, DC-based girls-of-color organizer Nicole Mason, Wisconsin NOW president Lauren Besser, Fierce magazine marketing manager Sarah Tompson, and Beloit's Fulbright Scholar in Residence Wanjiku Chiuri. Other recent visitors have included Rosario Acosta from Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa, who spoke about the missing girls and murders of women in Ciudad JuÃ¡rez (which sparked a Beloit student delegation to Juarez with MÃ©xico Solidarity Network during spring break 2003), organizers from the Latino Union and Coalition of Immakolee Workers transgender activists Leslie Feinberg, Ricki Lee Wilchens, and Kate Bornstein, Black Women's Studies Pioneer Barbara Smith, and interdisciplinary scholars such as Susan Stanford Friedman and Marilee Mayberry.
Women's and gender studies students apply their knowledge in practical areas. Some have chosen to pursue internships in local shelters for battered women and abused children. Some have entered women's health professions. Some have investigated gender issues at biological field stations. Still others have analyzed male and female involvement in politics. Many have continued their studies after graduation, entering graduate programs both in women's studies and other disciplines.