Faculty Take Action: Gender and Women's Studies Program
The development of a Gender and Women’s Studies Program (GWST) at CSB/SJU began in 1984 when a three-year Fund for the Improvement of Secondary Education (FIPSE) grant funded the “Gender and the Curriculum” project, which helped infuse inquiry on gender into many classes. The project was led by Dr. Ozzie Mayers and included a final symposium on gender in 1986. In 1987, a gender 'flag' was added to the core curriculum, signalling courses with a gender component.
In 1993, the Women Studies Program was approved, and Dr. Cate Palczewski (Communications) became the first director of the program. Students petitioned for a minor in Women Studies, and in 1994 the Women’s Studies minor was approved, with Dr. Linda Lierheimer (History) as director until 1998. In 1996, four students earned the Gender and Women’s Studies minor, and an additional four students earned the minor in 1998. From 1998-2000, Madhu Mitra became the interdisciplinary Gender and Women's Studies Program Director. In 1999, GWST 390, the capstone for the minor was taught for the first time. Additionally, the Gender and Women’s Studies program was awarded, a three-year “Extending the Classroom Walls” grant by the Bush Foundation to build the Gender Learning Community (GLC) and to fund the Women’s and Men’s Lives Series.
In the academic year 2000-2001, it became possible to create an individualized major in GWST. From 2001-2002, the GLC submitted its reapplication grant to the Bush Foundation, in which they revised their mission and goals for the GWST Program. The GLC was created to build a connection between student development and GWST. Precursing GLC’s creation was the creation of the Gender Collective in 1997, which was a group of faculty, staff, and administrators who were committed to examining critical issues of gender. In 2001, Jean Keller was the Coordinator of GLC, Director of GWST, and a member of the Gender Collective, which helped to link them all.
Since the GWST minor was interdisciplinary, beginning in 2000, the Bush grant facilitated team-teaching of introductory and capstone courses by professors from two different divisions. This was extremely beneficial as it demonstrated how the different fields are connected and allowed the teachers to learn at the same time as the students. This made the program unique and caused the classes to often be oversubscribed. Seventeen courses were cross-listed with the GWST minor in the Spring of 2002, with over 35 faculty from 14 different departments teaching in the GWST program. A major was finally offered in the GWST program in the academic year of 2006-2007.
Lisa Wilder Larson, "Gender Sensitivity: An Inherent Part of CSB/SJU", Saint Benedict's/Saint John's Magazine, Spring 1996, p. 9-13.
Ohm, Lisa, "History and Her-Story: Gender at CSB/SJU", unpublished document from College of Saint Benedict Archives.