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JCU welcomes new women & gender studies program

November 1st, 2012

John Carroll University recently announced that a new program, women’s and gender studies, will become available beginning this semester. This program will replace the concentration in perspectives on sex and gender, which is currently being phased out of the curriculum, according to Katherine Gatto, director of the women’s and gender studies program and professor in the Spanish department.

Brenda Wirkus and Dianna Taylor, professors in the department of philosophy, submitted the proposal for the new program of study to the Committee on Academic Policies, and the faculty approved.

Gatto said, “There has always been interest in this field, and the enrollment in courses that now apply to this new program have always been high. There are many such programs across the country in colleges and universities (including Jesuit universities) that have been in existence for quite a while.”

According to the women’s and gender studies website, a few of the main skills the program aims to develop in students are “[the ability] to recognize how social and cultural constructions of gender have shaped the experiences of men and women historically and geographically, understand connections between gender and power in a global context, examine gender roles from multiple perspectives and disciplines and evaluate feminist critical scholarship and methodologies.”

Gatto believes that the study of women and gender is important in the process of becoming men and women for others. She said, “Clearly, it is a field of study that should contribute to a greater understanding of who we are as women and men; and armed with this knowledge, we are better equipped to become a woman or man for others.”

She also acknowledged that this program can easily be combined with any other program and that the women’s and gender studies program is “personally enriching and vocationally useful.”

“In the last two years, we have had several JCU graduates who have gone on to pursue a Master of Arts degree in this field. We hope to increase that number with the new program,” Gatto said.

All of the courses that are part of the women’s and gender studies program will “examine diversity and the consequences of unequal power and opportunity, study sex-based inequalities as they affect primarily women of all classes, races, sexual and ethnic identification, analyze issues of social justice and human dignity from a global perspective, create strategies for critiquing and changing the existing status of women and encourage students to integrate these strategies into their lives,” according to an article on JCU’s website.

Some of the courses that make up the program are: Women in Ancient Greece and Rome, British Women Writers, Race and Sex in American Popular Culture and Women in Mass Media. The program encompasses several different departments, which is why students can easily incorporate the major or minor into many different programs.

In addition to adding the new major and minor, Gatto has arranged to show a film about St. Thérèse de Lisieux and for a few lecturers to speak at JCU during the spring semester. This film and these lecturers will showcase strong women from the past and present.