Women's and Gender Studies

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Faculty Office Building (Bldg. 47), Room 25H
Phone: 805.756.1525

Department Chair: Jane Lehr

Academic Program

Program name Program type
Women's and Gender StudiesMinor

The program embraces the intellectual perspectives of faculty and students across the spectrum of Cal Poly’s majors and colleges.

The Minor is housed within the College of Liberal Arts, and its courses are offered by the departments of Art and Design, Communication Studies, English, Ethnic Studies, History, Kinesiology, Music, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology and Child Development, Social Sciences, Theatre and Dance, and Women’s and Gender Studies.

Undergraduate Program

Women's and Gender Studies Minor

The Women’s and Gender Studies Minor provides an interdisciplinary background in feminist history, activism, and theory, empowering students to question and contribute to knowledge from multiple perspectives.  The minor encourages active student learning and sophisticated engagement, and a critical understanding of how genders and sexualities shape and are shaped by social, political, ethical, economic, legal and cultural institutions in historical and contemporary contexts. Areas of exploration include femininities, masculinities, and other gender identities. The Women's & Gender Studies minor promotes scholarly inquiry, education and activism that utilizes an integrative perspective, exploring the intersections of gender, race, sexuality, class, religion, dis/abilities, and other social categories within both national and transnational contexts.

Program Learning Objectives

  1. Students will develop skills in critical thinking, writing, and oral communication.
  2. Students will demonstrate substantial knowledge of foundational and contemporary research and theoretical literature in the field of Women’s & Gender Studies.
  3. Students will gain an understanding of how the interdisciplinary field of Women’s and Gender Studies creates new knowledge and draws upon and utilizes the perspective of multiple fields, such as the humanities, arts, and social and behavioral sciences.
  4. Students will understand the ways in which genders and sexualities shape and are shaped by social, political, ethical, economic, legal, cultural, scientific and technological factors and institutions in historical and contemporary contexts, with special attention paid to the intersections of gender, race, and class, and sexuality in national and transnational contexts.
  5. Students will employ key concepts in Women’s & Gender Studies scholarship to conduct independent research and analyses on a variety of topics.
  6. Students will develop skills that allow them to identify and engage with issues of social justice.

Minor Requirements

How to Read Course Descriptions

WGS Courses

WGS 201. Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies in the United States. 4 units

GE Area D1; USCP

Term Typically Offered: F, W, SP

Introduction to theories and research on how genders and sexualities in the US shape and are shaped by historical processes and US institutional formation - specifically social, political, economic, legal, cultural institutions. Emphasis on interlocking systems of gender, sexuality, race and class. 4 lectures. Fulfills GE Area D1 and USCP.

WGS 270. Selected Topics. 1-4 units

Term Typically Offered: TBD

Prerequisite: Open to undergraduate students and consent of instructor.

Directed group study of selected topics. The Schedule of Classes will list title selected. Total credit limited to 8 units. 1 to 4 lectures.

WGS 301. Contemporary Issues in Women's and Gender Studies. 4 units

GE Area D5; USCP

Term Typically Offered: SP

Prerequisite: Junior standing, completion of GE Area A, and two courses from lower division Area D. Recommended: WGS 201.

Exploration of contemporary issues in local, national, and comparative transnational contexts as addressed within the interdisciplinary field of Women's & Gender Studies, with an emphasis on the complex intersections of gender and sexuality with race, class, and other social factors. The Schedule of Classes will list topic selected. Total credit limited to 8 units. 4 lectures. Fulfills GE D5 and USCP.

WGS 311. Sociology of Gender. 4 units

Term Typically Offered: W, SP

Prerequisite: Junior standing.

Description and analysis of the impact of gender definitions on men and women in society. Special attention is given to the learning process; the creation and perpetuation of gender stereotypes and the way these affect individual life chances and social structure, explored in the areas of work, education, family and abusive relationships. Focus on media presentation of gender and effects of ethnicity and class. 4 lectures. Crosslisted as SOC/WGS 311.

WGS 316. Women as Subject and Object in Art History. 4 units

Term Typically Offered: W

Prerequisite: ART 111, ART 112 or ART 211 or ART 212, or consent of instructor.

Exploration of the role of women in the visual arts. Women as artists, women as portrayed in art, and feminist theory as it applies to the study of the visual arts and art history. 4 lectures. Crosslisted as ART/WGS 316.

WGS 320. Women in Global Perspective. 4 units

GE Area D5

Term Typically Offered: SP

Prerequisite: Junior standing; completion of GE Area A and one course from lower division Area D.

Similarities and differences in women's lives internationally. Cultural influences such as class, ethnicity, and religion on women's status. Study of global feminism, reproductive rights, women's labor, women in development, women's politics. 4 lectures. Fulfills GE D5.

WGS 324. Psychology of Gender. 4 units

Term Typically Offered: F

Prerequisite: PSY 201 or PSY 202.

Investigation of psychological gender beyond ideas associated with biological sex. Exploration of sex differences from a social psychological (e.g., socialization) perspective. Implications of both the male and female gender roles for relationships and health. 4 lectures. Crosslisted as PSY/WGS 324.

WGS 340. Sexuality Studies. 4 units

GE Area D5

Term Typically Offered: F, W, SP

Prerequisite: Junior standing; completion of GE Area A and one course from lower division Area D.

Sexuality in a cultural and historical context. Changing definitions of human subjectivity. The cultural and social regimes that control and create sexuality (including the 'invention' of homo/heterosexuality and the social, legal and political systems that define sexual ab/normality). Contemporary issues of sexual orientation and topics of sexuality in relation to gender and race. 4 seminars. Crosslisted as WGS/HNRS 340. Fulfills GE D5.

WGS 350. Gender, Race, Culture, Science and Technology. 4 units

GE Area F; USCP

Term Typically Offered: F, W, SP

Prerequisite: Junior standing; completion of GE Area B.

Interdisciplinary examination of the complex relationships between gender, race, culture, science, technology in educational, work, knowledge production, policy, and ethical contexts. Topics may include reproductive, medical, genetic, and emerging technologies and exploration of efforts to create more socially responsible science/technology. 3 lectures, 1 activity. Crosslisted as ES/WGS 350. Fulfills GE Area F and USCP.

WGS 351. Gender, Race, Class, Nation in Global Engineering, Technology & International Development. 4 units

GE Area D5

Term Typically Offered: F

Prerequisite: Junior standing; completion of GE Area A and one lower division course in Area D.

Cross-cultural exploration of the intersections of gender, race, class, nation in the global engineering workforce, small- and large-scale technological systems, and international development programs; special attention to 21st century challenges and efforts to create more socially responsible engineering and technology. 4 lectures. Crosslisted as ES/WGS 351. Fulfills GE Area D5 except for Comparative Ethnic Studies majors.

WGS 370. Religion, Gender, and Society. 4 units

GE Area C4; USCP

Term Typically Offered: F, SP

Prerequisite: Junior standing; completion of GE Areas A and C2.

Critical examination of religious ideas and institutions in America in relation to gender, race and politics. Focus on women and religion, the religious experience of minorities, and on politics. 4 lectures. Crosslisted as RELS/WGS 370. Fulfills GE C4 and USCP.

WGS 400. Special Problems for Advanced Undergraduates. 1-4 units

Term Typically Offered: F, W, SP

Prerequisite: WGS 201 or consent of Women's and Gender Studies Chair.

Individual investigation, research studies, or surveys of selected problems. Total credit limited to 4 units, with a maximum of 4 units per quarter.

WGS 401. Seminar in Women's and Gender Studies. 4 units

Term Typically Offered: F

Prerequisite: WGS 201 or consent of instructor. Recommended: Junior standing.

Intensive study of a selected topic in Women's and Gender Studies (such as gender and work, gender and the law, sexuality and the arts). The Schedule of Classes will list topic selected. Field experience may be required as appropriate. May be repeated for up to 8 units. 3 seminars and a supervised research project.

WGS 434. American Women's History to 1870. 4 units

Term Typically Offered: F

Prerequisite: HIST 303 or completion of GE Area D5, or graduate standing.

Female ideology and experience from the colonial period through the American Civil War. Use of a variety of sources, including women's own writing, in order to understand the history of women as it both reflects and shapes American culture and society. 3 lectures and research project. Crosslisted as HIST/WGS 434.

WGS 435. American Women's History from 1870. 4 units

USCP

Term Typically Offered: W

Prerequisite: HIST 303 or completion of GE Area D5, or graduate standing.

The female past in the modern period of U.S. history. Considers how transformations in gender roles are reflective of other significant changes in American culture and society. Emphasis on class, race, and ethnic variations in women's experience. 3 lectures and research project. Crosslisted as HIST/WGS 435. Fulfills USCP.

WGS 450. Feminist Theory. 4 units

USCP

Term Typically Offered: W

Prerequisite: WGS 201.

History and evolution of ideas about gender, race/ethnicity and sexual identity. Special attention as to how social, historical, and ideological forces, organized by the central, intertwined concepts of gender and race, shape both our critical thinking and our lives. 3 lectures, 1 activity. Fulfills USCP.

WGS 467. Women's and Gender Studies Internship. 4 units

CR/NC

Term Typically Offered: F,W,SP,SU

Prerequisite: WGS 201 and consent of WGS Internship Director. Corequisite: One additional course in WGS.

Supervised work experience in approved agency. Intern subject to of the duties/responsibilities of employees engaged in comparable work. Focus on genders, sexualities, independent utilization of WGS concepts. 30 hours of internship experience per unit of credit. Minimum of 4 units (120 hours). Total credit limited to 8 units. Credit/No Credit grading only.

WGS 470. Selected Advanced Topics. 1-4 units

Term Typically Offered: TBD

Prerequisite: Consent of instructor.

Directed group study of selected topics for advanced students. Open to undergraduate and graduate students. The Schedule of Classes will list title selected. Total credit limited to 8 units. 1 to 4 lectures.

Brian Beaton
B.A., Emory University, 2000; M.A., New York University, 2002; University of Toronto, Ph.D., 2012.

Jane L. Lehr
B.A., University of Rochester, 1997; M.S., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 2002; Ph.D., 2006.