The Women’s Studies program provides students with the opportunity to look at the world through a different lens. Students learn to think critically, questioning received knowledge, and asking whether it truly represents the entire human experience. Courses that are cross-listed with the Women’s Studies program focus on women’s experiences, history, challenges, and opportunities. Students in the program take seriously the idea that all people have dignity. They analyze systems of power and privilege, as well as the intersection of race, class, and gender in examining the lives of women past and present.
A flexible program of study, Women’s Studies combines theoretical, practical, and research components and provides preparation for both advanced study and professional work. Some courses incorporate community-based learning experiences that allow students to appreciate the similarities and differences in the lives of women at different times, or to see how social expectations regarding gender affect the situations of individuals and groups. This experiential learning, whether in a domestic abuse shelter in St. Paul or in the townships of South Africa, teaches students to evaluate societal and personal choices in an effort to advocate the wisest course of action.
A Women’s Studies major spends a semester working at an internship, usually in the local community, with an organization whose mission is service to or advocacy for women. The goal of the internship experience is to assist the student in engaging with the community and becoming a morally responsible citizen. Students apply critical thinking skills to a specific experience by drawing on the learning that has been acquired throughout the Women’s Studies program. The internship provides an opportunity to advance the common good while becoming aware of the complex intersection of identities that affect individual women.
In short, the Women’s Studies program educates students to think critically, act wisely, and work skillfully to advance the common good.