Through extensive course offerings across the disciplines, and particularly in the humanities and social and health sciences, the undergraduate minor in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGS) seeks to promote academic study and dialogue on a broad range of topics related not only to women’s contributions to the fundamental fields of human knowledge and achievement, but also to interdisciplinary studies of feminisms, masculinity, sex, gender, and sexuality. A guiding premise of the WGS program is that masculinity, femininity, and gender in general are cultural constructs of pervasive social importance that intersect with issues of class, race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation. Thus, WGS promotes the study of gender in all fields of study, and encourages all students to consider taking courses or fulfilling the minor in WGS. Students who successfully complete a minor in WGS will engage a developing body of knowledge on women and gender, while also learning key theoretical approaches for thinking about feminisms, masculinity, gender, sex, and sexuality in local, national, and global contexts. WGS students will also be expected to stretch their analytical skills for studying and communicating about the phenomenon of gender in both the humanities and social and natural sciences.
Courses in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies are taught by faculty from numerous disciplines who engage in writing and research that enrich their own fields and contribute to the vitality of the classroom experience. Thus, the program in WGS seeks to promote that research and to bring together the wealth of perspectives offered by a diverse and creative faculty.
WGS faculty, staff, and students have long been engaged in the intellectual, social, and extracurricular life of the Wake Forest campus and of the broader community. As such, WGS offers extensive opportunities for internships, promotes service learning and activism on behalf of women’s and gay/lesbian rights, and strives for a non-gender-biased, open-minded society. In partnership with the program in American Ethnic Studies and others, and as a Wake Forest academic program, it “rejects hatred and bigotry in any form” (WFU Bulletin 2006/07, p. 12).
The WGS Mission within the Broader WFU Mission
The program in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies embraces, celebrates and promotes key elements of the broader Wake Forest University mission.
“Wake Forest has been dedicated to the liberal arts for over a century and a half…” (WFU Bulletin 2005/06, p. 13).
WGS requires its minors to study courses from across the curriculum and encourages them to combine disciplinary work in the capstone WGS 321 Research Seminar in Women’s and Gender Studies.
“[Wake Forest] seeks to encourage habits of mind that ask ‘why,’ that evaluate evidence, that are open to new ideas, that attempt to understand and appreciate the perspectives of others, that accept complexity and grapple with it, that admit error, and that pursue truth.” (WFU Bulletin 2006/07, p. 13).
WGS encourages students to ask why problems of sexism, racism, classism, and heterosexism exist and persist. It promotes the analytical measurement and the literary exploration of such lingering social ills, and strives to promote civil dialogue and study on these and related topics. As such, the program seeks to put together faculty and students from the most varied backgrounds and to move all participants beyond engrained habits of thought.
“[Wake Forest] adheres to the principle that no person affiliated with Wake Forest should be judged or harassed on the basis of perceived or actual sexual orientation….” and “does not limit freedom of religious association or expression.” (WFU Bulletin 2006/07, p. 12).
In its broad and varied course offerings and programming, WGS encourages the study and open and civil discussion of a wide array of topics that can lead to greater understanding about and among diverse cultural groups. For example, topics of study have ranged from “American Jewish Literature” to “Gay and Lesbian Film and Theory” to “African and Caribbean Women Writers” to “Men’s Studies and Religion.” The program thus serves as a vibrant and evolving intellectual epicenter for the careful and thoughtful discussion of matters that have often divided American campuses and society. The faculty of WGS are committed to the principle that such study and discussion are vital requirements for educating the undergraduates who will lead society forward in this new century.