Building an inclusive gender studies program

By Ashley A. Williams

Building an inclusive gender studies program

By Ashley A. Williams
University of Miami changes program title of Women’s and Gender Studies to Gender and Sexuality Studies.

University of Miami’s Women’s and Gender Studies Program has changed its name to the Gender and Sexuality Studies program. This recommendation was approved in various university committees this past calendar year, with the recent unanimous approval in the Faculty Senate.

Many colleges and universities around the nation have become the central location for conversations regarding not just women’s studies (including women, gender, feminism, politics, and gender) but men’s and masculinity studies, queer and sexuality studies.

Eliminating “women” and keeping “gender” is intended to be more inclusive and better reflect the academic content of the program.

“Both women and men have a gender, and we want to make sure all who are interested in gender studies feel welcome in our program,” Merike Blofield, program director and associate professor of political science said. “Changing the title has no impact on what is currently, and successfully, being taught.”

Claire Oueslati-Porter, core senior lecturer said, “Along with providing students with education that promotes their future success, gender studies courses are unique places for students of all genders to recognize not just what they have in common, but distinctive things about each other’s lived experiences; this can help dispel negative ideas about gender.”

Adding “sexuality” to the title is intended to demonstrate sexuality studies as its own research area.

“WGS currently offers courses that focus on or include sexuality studies, and therefore it should be included in the title,” Blofield said. “We house the LBGTQ studies minor, which specifically focuses on sexuality studies—thus the name change reflects better program content.”

The major offers a bachelor of arts in women’s and gender studies, and minors in women’s and gender studies and LGBTQ studies. The name change will become effective fall 2019.

“Many students, from all walks of life and with majors ranging from the sciences, to the arts, to engineering and business, have spoken to me of the life-changing impact taking our WGS core courses has had on them”, said Blofield.

After taking WGS 201, a male student shared that the best part about the semester for him was “how taking a course like this can open one’s eyes.”