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College of Humanities & Sciences

Department of Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies

Mission Statement

The Department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies (GSWS) is committed to social transformation. We produce and disseminate interdisciplinary feminist knowledge and theories, and view them as vitally connected to community engagement and activism. We critique the construction of differences as producing and reinforcing social, cultural, economic, and political inequities, and understand gender and sexuality as inextricably bound to other forms of difference. The GSWS Department began as a Women’s Studies Program in 1989 and was granted departmental status in 2007. To more accurately reflect our intellectual project, in 2013, we renamed the department Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies. GSWS introduces students to new analytical, theoretical, and creative frameworks to enable them to understand, critique, and transform themselves and the world around them.  Our faculty members represent a wide variety of disciplines and engage students from diverse fields of study in research, teaching, and public service.

Through teaching, activism, scholarly and creative production, and community engagement, GSWS provides analytical and critical tools to equip students for careers in a broad range of fields, and prepares them to engage in:

  • individual and collective transformation
  • critical thinking and writing
  • research drawing from interdisciplinary methodologies
  • political and community engagement and advocacy
  • analyzing transnational and global networks (recognition of the ways that we are bound up in global networks of power)
  • recognizing the complex interaction between multiple modes of difference
  • the production of creative work

The department offers a major leading to the Bachelor of Arts degree, an undergraduate minor, and a post-graduate certificate in Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies. The Department has particular strengths in race, racialization, and antiracism studies; LGBTQ studies and queer theory; postcolonial/decolonial/anticolonial studies; health and health policies; and research and activism for social justice change in the academy and the broader community.


Vision Statement

Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies students, faculty, and staff engage in activism, creative endeavors [productions], and traditional academic scholarship in order to strengthen connections with one another and the community and to work towards social justice and collective liberation.


Departmental Values

  1. As faculty and staff who center consent and collaboration as guiding principles, we practice consensus-based decision-making processes in our meetings with one another, and emphasize collaboration in our classrooms, on campus, and with our communities (community-based activism).
  2. GSWS seeks to generate individual, interpersonal, and structural transformations that recognize, in the words of Audre Lorde, that there are no single-issue struggles because there are no single-issue lives. This commitment drives how we shape our curriculum, classes, scholarship, creative work, and departmental activity.
  3. We stand in full support of our students’ and our colleagues' scholarly, creative, and activist pursuits, and we structure our classes to attend to diverse and inclusive learning practices, forms of creative expression, and activist pursuits. We view interdisciplinary work as academically rigorous and creatively rich, and as enabling fresh insights into pressing topics.
  4. Because we believe in transparency and dialogue, we design our departmental curricula and assessment in direct conversation with our students.
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