Ds Scholarship

Despite Many Changes, Gender and Women’s Studies Program Continues to Flourish

Covid may have changed the way we work, learn and interact with each other, but one thing that has not changed is the dedication in the Gender and Women’s Studies program to enrich the lives of all students on campus.

In this class alone, the program has hosted and participated in several events on campus such as Women’s Equality Day at the Kentucky Museum, a presentation of the film Sisters with transistors, and a panel of women entrepreneurs that were part of the Jill Martin Faculty Lecture and Development Series. This event was particularly significant for the program as it took two years to prepare after the pandemic had originally disrupted it.

But while it was important to wait and hold this event in person, the program has been able to host many virtual events since the start of the pandemic, some of which have even garnered national attention.

“Last February we had a really great Zoom event with about seventy-nine people from three different states, and we partnered with Berea College…They had top-notch speakers from all over the country because they were able to zoom in. And then We brought in Coded Bias filmmaker in February, and we had a school in Florida Zoom in, a professor and their students, and people from all over Kentucky and then Utah,” said Dr. Don Hall, secondary advisor and current program coordinator.

The program plans to continue hosting impactful events like this in the spring as well, with several Zoom and in-person events already in the works. Currently, the program has bolstered plans to show two films, participate in the First Things First fundraiser that raises money for Hope Harbor, the Sexual Trauma Recovery Center, and host a panel.

The next session will focus on current laws and issues related to reproductive rights laws across the country and will feature actress Atika Scott and journalist Alex Aquisto, who covers health and social services for the benefit of Lexington Herald Leader.

“What we want to do is just show the facts, what are these reproductive liberties laws, what they are, and how do they affect Kentuckians, and that’s it. We’re not pushing an agenda, we just want students to know what’s going on around them and how it’s going to affect them, Dr. Hall said.

The benefits of going to events like this are often so huge and totally unexpected by students, “They won’t really understand the importance of it until they actually go,” said Katie Lindsay, a student at GWS, “It’s worth being there and seeing all these different people and hearing them talk about their experiences and understand their place [come] of and things that they had to overcome. It can be really impressive.”

But going to these events is one way students can achieve these benefits. By adding a secondary GWS, students gain a comprehensive education in the function of gender dynamics in different social, political, and economic situations.

Lindsay, a major in English, didn’t know the program existed until she was looking for jobs. But once she got acquainted with the basics of the minor, she quickly added them without regret.

“It really expands both women’s and men’s knowledge of gender dynamics and the social construction of gender. We are fortunate enough to live in a very diverse world and understand the way people are different and the different ways people have manifested and experienced [can] Be really important. It really goes through the history of women and gender and the global impact of it as well… You learn critical thinking skills and writing skills that can come in handy for just about anything. “Anything you do in life, you will need skills like these and communication,” Lindsey said.

A minor can often fit easily into any schedule, as it only requires two specific classes and 15 hours of electives, which often count toward column courses. Dr. Hall herself was a GWS student as an undergraduate and remembers the impact this had on her life trajectory.

“I remember feeling such a strong and supportive community among my fellow minors in Gender and Women’s Studies. I felt really protected and supported and it really helped. I think the community that this program sponsors is really great, [and] Supportive…I felt it prepared me for higher studies. It also prepared me for being able to think critically and I was able to advocate for others more effectively because of the classes and speakers I got to know as an undergraduate… be it nursing, law, graduate school, teaching, public health, biology, All in all, it looks like you’ve got something extra in your back pocket as you leave West that will carry you,” Dr. Hall stated.

While students benefit greatly from this offer, WKU faculty also have the opportunity to reap the benefits of the program. With any funds available for faculty development, any member of the GWS Committee can receive financial assistance in connection with technical needs such as external hard drives or laptops, in-person or virtual conference fees, access to use organizations such as the British Library, travel expenses, And many other services. expenses.

The program is currently forming four main committees, each with its own roles. One committee will select films to display throughout the year, another will organize a gender research lunch highlighting research from faculty and students, another will select visiting speakers for the campus and Bowling Green community, and one committee will meet to discuss the direction and mission of the university. a program. Many committees meet only once or twice a year and everyone interested is invited to contact Dr. Hall for more information.

“It is important to have faculty and staff interested in the issues that gender and women studies advocate. It is important to have multiple voices in the planning process so that it is not just driven by a particular person, but is an interdisciplinary effort because the faculty in Political sciences can see what’s going on in their circles while English faculty can too.Dr. Hall said we share the ability to plan and bring speakers to campus that meet the interests of all students, and that’s really important for gender and women’s studies.

Although they have developed an exemplary reputation, there is a common misconception that the program targets women, a statement that both Lindsay and Dr. Hall believe is far from the truth. They believe that the benefits the program offers to anyone are far-reaching and often very impressive at any point in their academic career.

Dr. Hall said: “It is for him who desires to make the world a fairer and more just place. And so if the students care about race, the class, [and] Gender equality, and then you lose us because that’s all there is to it.”

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