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 Tuesday, September 26, 2006 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter

IN THE SPOTLIGHT


Students Inspire "Women and Gender Studies" Name Change
By Melanie O. Massengale, Systems Manager, Mailing Services

An important change took place recently in Women's Studies. The program has been officially retitled "Women and Gender Studies."

"The title Women's Studies didn't do our program justice. We are more inclusive than that," Christine Buckley, a member of the WGST Student Advisory and proponent of the name change, said. "I found most of the time I was taking what I learned in the classroom to my male friends because of the stigma attached to Women's Studies only."

Associate Professor Polly McLean, director of the newly renamed program echoed a similar sentiment by suggesting that, "Some men have felt that the program's name excluded them from the classes. The inclusion of 'gender' in the title does not abandon women as a group, but instead incorporates men as allies. The name change enlarges the definition of women because it acknowledges how each gender shapes the identity of the other."

Approval for the name change was finalized by President Hank Brown and the Board of Regents at the Sept. 8 BOR meeting. Opposition was virtually nonexistent according to McLean. "We had unanimous approval at all levels, from administrators on the Boulder campus, to the regents, faculty and students."

McLean emphasized the new name also reflects the program's shift from a national to a global perspective. What is different today? "The U.S. is not isolated, everyone impacts everyone else now. We are really paying attention to our sisters in the global context who are telling us that we need to bring men into the dialogue. How can we understand women in Africa if we don't work with men to study patriarchy?"

Finally, "Women and Gender Studies" reflects a national academic trend. Inclusiveness brings CU into compliance with U.S. government agency terminology. It also acknowledges that competition for grant money is keen. McLean feels that universities have been heading in this direction for some time. In her August 2, 2006 address to the Board of Regents, McLean observed, "The name change aligns us with our AAU peers who have been moving to add 'gender' into their own department titles. The understanding of gender relations is an important factor in the effort to achieve women's equality with men."

"Women and Gender Studies" approaches the future with a revamped curriculum that reflects the new, broader reach of the program and that includes some "fantastic new courses," according to McLean. Some classes have achieved maximum enrollments, including the new "Disney Women & Girls," which was filled the first day it was offered. Another course that will be offered this spring is "Gender and Human Trafficking" that reflects current world concerns about the gender dimensions of this modern slavery. McLean returned to the importance of her students' input in promoting the change to "Women and Gender Studies" for the growth of the program. "We have a fantastic and active student board who took the lead in encouraging this name change."

For more information on the Women and Gender Studies program, visit the web site.


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