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Women's Studies

Women’s Studies studies is an interdisciplinary program focusing on the role of gender in the development of individuals, societies and cultures and on the construction of gender by societies and cultures. Emphasis is placed upon the intersection of gender with race, class, ethnicity, age and sexuality and on issues of bias, inequality and male privilege. Students in women’s studies are encouraged to think critically and analytically; to explore a variety of disciplinary approaches to the interpretation of human experience; to use their own gendered life experience while at the same time trying to see the world through others’ eyes; and to create bridges between the academic and the experiential.

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Your Program

The overall major will be an interdisciplinary program focusing on the role of gender in the development of individuals, societies and cultures and on the construction of gender by societies and cultures. Emphasis will be placed upon the intersection of gender with race, class, ethnicity, age and sexuality and on issues of bias, inequality, and male privilege.

As a major in women's studies you must complete a four-course women's studies core. Those courses are intro to women's studies, feminist theory, women's activism and advocacy and a senior project. You must also complete one of two eight-course concentrations (feminist/gender studies or women's advocacy).

-- Feminist/gender studies concentration: Choose from courses such as women writers 1900-present, gender and communication, history of dance, women and music, human sexuality, women in the Bible, internship.

-- Women's advocacy concentration: Choose from courses such as rhetoric of social intervention, organizational planning/evaluation, making change: public policy, advocacy and grassroots organizing, communication campaigns.

When you minor in women's studies you must complete a senior research project in which you use advanced theory to explore a topic of your choice. Recent topics have included female vampires, black sororities, resources for divorced women, female monasticism and women's role in organized religion.

Your Faculty

Dr. Gary Ljungquist is the coordinator of the women's studies program. Among the other regular women's studies faculty are Dr. Rebecca Dunn (biology), Dr. Jo Dulan (English), Dr. Janet Zehr (English), Dr. Terri Smith (sociology), Dr. Traci Porter (Biology), Dr. Krista McQueeney (Sociology), Dr. Richard Vinson (Religion) and Dr. Amy Rio-Anderson (religion).

Faculty from many departments at Salem offer courses that will count towards your minor in women's studies.

Your Results

The benefits of a women’s studies major or minor are many. Women’s studies provides you with all the benefits of a liberal arts degree, which emphasizes critical thinking, communication and many other skills that can be applied to many careers. Also, it provides you with deeper insights into issues related to women — celebrating women’s achievements and appreciating women’s struggles against oppression.

While as a women’s studies major or minor you will look for the silenced voices of women in history, you will also add your own voice to discussions of such issues as sexual harassment, pay equity, violence against women and children, the role of women in the arts, changing perspectives on gender and sexuality and many more.

Women’s studies is not just about women; it is about the dynamics of gender. The fields of law, medicine, education, social work and government service need expertise in gender issues. Increasingly, when you major in women’s studies you are in demand as a consultant to industry, education and in the service sector.

Women’s Studies Major

The major requires 12 courses: a four-course women’s studies core, and completion of one of two eight-course concentrations, Feminist Studies/Gender Studies and Women's Advocacy. At least six courses toward the major must be completed at Salem.

Courses in the Feminist Studies/Gender Studies concentration demonstrate the diversity of women’s studies and feminist scholarship and the impact that feminist inquiry has had on academic disciplines. These courseswill expand students’ knowledge of women’s life experiences, women’s creativity, transnational feminist thought and the intersections of gender, race, class and sexuality.  This concentration prepares students for future scholarly work and offers students a broad liberal-arts perspective on feminist scholarship. 

Courses in the Women's Advocacy concentration prepare students to work in organizations that seek to bring positive change to the lives of women. In addition to the four-course women’s studies core, the advocacy concentration requires a three-course advocacy core, plus five more courses chosen from a list of approved courses, with WMST 270 (Internship in Women’s Studies) strongly recommended.

Women’s Studies Minor

A minor requires completion of six courses, of which no more than two may come from a single discipline, with the exception of Women’s Studies. At least three of the six courses, including WMST380, must be completed at Salem. 

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