History of WGS
History of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Grand Valley State University
The study of women has a long history at Grand Valley State University. In keeping with national conversations, the first courses were offered more than forty-five years ago (1973) in both William James College and the College of Arts and Sciences. Since then, faculty involved in teaching, research, and service have steadily built and expanded the curriculum. In 2015, the program received department status and a new name: Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Much has been accomplished over the 40+ years since that first course was offered.
1973- First courses centering on women's experience offered
1988- First minor in Women’s Studies graduated
1991- Women’s Studies Program established
1997- Program expanded to become Women and Gender Studies
2002- First hire of visiting faculty with graduate work in Women and Gender Studies
2004- Women and Gender Studies moves to College of Interdisciplinary Initiatives—now Brooks School of Interdisciplinary Studies
2004- First hire of tenure track WGS faculty
2006- Major in Women and Gender Studies created
2009- Five Women and Gender Studies Majors participated in graduation
2012- Study Abroad program in South Africa established
2012- Visiting Feminist Lecturer inaugurated
2013- Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) Studies Minor developed
2015- Program achieved departmental status and became Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGS)
2015- First LGBTQ Studies Minor graduated
Significant steps were made to implement these recommendations. In 1991, Women’s Studies became an autonomous unit, and the Dean of the Division of Social Sciences, Anthony Travis, authorized a ½ -time appointment for the director as well as a ½-time staff position to support the program. In the summer of 1992, substantial changes were been made to the curriculum, with a more formal structure for the WS minor. A 1993 Report called for the development of a “women’s recourse center” and established the first Women’s Festival. Additional resources were also sought and received, including: an increase in release time for the director and/or an assistant director; designated faculty lines for the program, and additional support staff.
The WGS Program continues to thrive within the Brooks School of Interdisciplinary Studies. Enrollment in the WGS courses is robust. The curricular structure has continued to develop and expand while reflecting epistemological and methodological changes in the field. In 2015, Women and Gender Studies became: Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. In 2023 WGS became part of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies. The interdisciplinary study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality is core to achieving inclusion, equity, and diversity.