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2019-2020 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog

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Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies - Program Description

For additional information about opportunities your college offers, please refer to the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies section in this catalog.



Creating and sustaining a community of scholar-activists who: understand systems of gender and sexuality; generate and apply intersectional feminist and queer perspectives; challenge structural inequalities; and work for social justice.

Program Information

Students may earn a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGS). The program also offers WGS as a minor as well as the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Studies (LGBTQ) minor.

The Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department at GVSU offers an interdisciplinary curriculum that acquaints students with the scholarship on women, gender, and sexuality; raises awareness of how categories of gender and sexuality affect and are affected by our everyday lives, historical currents, social institutions, science, art, and literature; and prepares students for graduate school and/or careers in which knowledge of gender issues is relevant.

The WGS curriculum focuses on diversity and the integration of theory and practice within the field. Liberal education is central to WGS, and the department requires that students critically reflect on and recognize their own social and cultural environments and challenge prevailing ideas of privilege and inequality. These attributes encourage students to develop the skills of inquiry, reflection, critical analysis, dialogue, and expression central to the university's vision for undergraduate success.

Each semester, more than 500 students enroll in WGS courses ranging from Introduction to Gender Studies to courses cross-listed in more than a dozen departments to our high-impact courses on praxis that empower students to challenge gender stereotypes, understand feminist perspectives, and to work actively for diverse gender justice through service learning and civic engagement at the community level and through international perspectives and experiences.

Campus Engagement

The WGS Department contributes to the experience of all students on campus by working in collaboration with the Gayle R. Davis Center for Women and Gender Equity, the Milton E. Ford LGBT Resource Center, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, student organizations and academic programs and departments across the university to sponsor speakers and events that contribute to understanding women, gender, and sexuality in the contemporary world. Most significantly, each March in conjunction with the Center for Women and Gender Equity, WGS celebrates Feminist/Women's History Month with a keynote speaker, a tea party celebrating the legacy of women's activism, and an awards ceremony honoring students, staff, and faculty members of the Grand Valley community.

Study Abroad

Students interested in the field of women, gender, and sexuality studies are encouraged to seek study abroad experiences that examine issues of gender and its relationship to economics, political movements, society, and empowerment.

WGS faculty currently facilitate a study abroad program in Cape Town, South Africa, which combines academic curriculum with service to the community. Participants examine how issues such as reproductive health, education, violence, political representation, and Apartheid have intersected to impact the role of women within various societal and class structures. Students participate in several academic and engaging excursions in and around Cape Town and Johannesburg as well.

For more information about opportunities to study women, gender, and/or sexuality abroad, students should contact the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department or the Padnos International Center.

Honors Organizations

Iota Iota Iota is the academic honor society for the field of women and gender, gender, and sexuality studies. Triota strives to maintain feminist values central to women, gender, and sexuality studies: egalitarianism, inclusiveness, and the celebration of the diversity of gendered experiences. The organization also works to enhance the experience of students by recognizing their academic achievements and supporting scholarship and excellence in women, gender, and sexuality studies at Grand Valley State University. WGS students meeting criteria are inducted into GVSU's chapter of Iota Iota Iota each year.

The following programs are available:

Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Minor

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Studies Minor

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