If Women’s Studies at East Tennessee State University is anything, it’s dedicated and resilient, according to program director Dr. Phyllis Thompson.
Since its inception, the Women’s Studies Program has seen several milestones. The Minor in Women’s Studies (WMST) was approved in 1993; the ETSU chapter of Tri Iota, the National Women’s Studies Honor Society, was formed; the ETSU Notable Women Award was established in 2002; and the Bachelor of Women’s Studies was approved in 2007.
“We successfully hosted an external review of the program in 2015,” said Thompson, “and we continued our efforts to strengthen the curriculum, field-testing the exciting new courses we created in response to the surveys of students who were part of our curriculum review and review processes, such as “Sex, Gender and Body”; “Men and masculinities”; “Feminist methods of teaching and learning”; “Queering the Canon”; and “Gender-based violence”. In addition, we launched a monthly conference series – “Women on Wednesdays” – which attracts hundreds of participants each year, received a $ 10,000 national grant to change the narrative of gender-based violence on campus, organized an institute history of trauma-informed approaches. teaching and learning funded by an ETSU Educational Development Committee grant, and have formed strong working partnerships with ETSU Safe Zone, the ETSU Ballad Health Strong BRAIN Institute and the Southeastern Women’s Studies Association .
As a result of this growth, the program announces that its curriculum review and renaming from Women’s Studies to Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) have been approved for the fall. 2021.
“The transition to WGSS is an intentional decision to embrace gender and gender diversity as a visible part of our program, our values and our mission as a program, college and university,” said Thompson, also associate professor in the literature department of ETSU. and Langue, which houses the program. “In the fall of 2020, with the support and approval of Acting Dean Joe Bidwell, the proposal progressed through the university system and received the approval of Provost Wilsie Bishop and President Brian Noland.
“The renaming of Women’s Studies to Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies more accurately reflects advances in the field, the academic content of the minor, the language used in the discipline, and trends in the field. equity and inclusion in higher education and in our university, ”she said. continued. “In addition, this transition to WGSS will broaden the scope of our program to include studies in gender and sexuality, which will attract a wider range of students in several disciplinary fields and colleges, and thus promote the growth of the program.” and will increase enrollment in the minor. This makes our students’ degrees more intelligible to graduate programs as well as employers and prepares our students with the academic content and field-related skills to be competitive in graduate studies and / or the job market. .
Thompson points out that workforce trends show a need for training in equity and inclusion, critical thinking and community engagement skills, which employers are looking for in new hires.
“Our goal ‘Leadership through diversity’ prepares students to meet these professional expectations and emphasizes our emphasis on applied learning, translatable research, collaboration and leadership,” a- she declared. “Experiential learning opportunities in the WGSS provide miners with field placements to build on lessons learned in the classroom, test hypotheses and practice competency-based knowledge. Research funds are available to support student scholarships through professionalization workshops and presentations at conferences.
As Kayla Dixon, a minor from WMST said, “I learned to speak out, ask questions and challenge the social injustice that I encounter in my everyday life. I was able to use what I learned with my minor in Women’s Studies to shed new light in my public health classes and to challenge the systematic social injustice in public health.
Students who enroll in the new WGSS minor can expect to learn these same skills and apply them in their own fields – public health and beyond – since WGSS pairs well with any curriculum. ‘studies, according to Thompson.
“We provide ETSU students with a quality curriculum emphasizing diversity, intellectual support, extracurricular programming, and opportunities for collegiality and personal and professional growth,” she said. .
The WGSS minor is official starting this fall semester, which begins August 23. Students complete 18 credit hours for the minor: nine hours of WGSS core courses and nine hours chosen from a long list of electives offered by campus departments that allows students to design a study plan based on their interests and as a strategic companion to their major.
“WGSS educates students to critically engage with issues of gender and sexual equity, navigate cutting-edge issues that many population groups face, and create a cohesive vision for career success and development. ‘a more humane society to which everyone feels they belong,’ said Thompson. “WGSS students are making a difference.
“We are absolutely delighted to share this news and delighted that we have the support of the campus and the community to honor the legacy of Women’s Studies as we pave the way for the new and exciting curriculum developments that lie ahead. Just as we celebrated the inaugural Minor in Women’s Studies in 1994, we look forward to celebrating the inaugural Minor in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies in the near future.
For more information, call the WGSS program office at 423-439-4125.
Contribution to the press