New major on board: women's and gender studies

The Women's and Gender Studies Program, which has long offered a successful interdisciplinary concentration, is now offering interested students an interdepartmental major as well. This new major reflects Kenyon's strong commitment to interdisciplinary study, which enables students to integrate their learning across several disciplines while maintaining depth and focus.

"The benefits of this new major to students are significant," says Laurie Finke, professor of women's and gender studies and director of the program. "The major will give students a more complete and cutting-edge curriculum, with built-in flexibility to accommodate their interests."

Students majoring in women's and gender studies examine the role gender has played historically, and continues to play in modern society and culture. The program also addresses important topics that are traditionally underrepresented in academic studies, including the lives and work of women, and the experiences of gays and lesbians.

The interdisciplinary program draws upon coursework in sociology, history, English, psychology, political science, religious studies, anthropology, and other traditional fields of study. Classes explore everything from the expected--feminist theory and women's literature--to the unexpected, such as gender portrayal in film and the political context of women's health.

The interdisciplinary approach means that students develop a broad understanding of the extent to which gender stereotypes and biases permeate all aspects of culture. It also helps students think critically about how gender intersects with class, race, age, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, sexual identity, and many other issues influencing both individual and societal attitudes and behaviors.

Finke points out, "Kenyon is ideally situated to explore innovations in interdisciplinary learning, and the women's and gender studies major is one way in which we are taking advantage of this strength."

Women's and gender studies takes its place as the seventh interdisciplinary major available at Kenyon, joining American studies, area studies (French, German, Spanish), biochemistry, international studies, molecular biology, and neuroscience.