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Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies

In the past 30 years, Women's Studies has produced a compelling body of interdisciplinary and multicultural scholarship that has challenged traditional interpretations of history, experience, culture and even science. Women's Studies courses (offered in 16 academic departments) encourage students -female as well as male -to reconsider the diversity of women's experiences in the past and the changing roles of women and men today. Women's Studies at DePauw offers outstanding opportunities to develop critical thinking, interpretive and writing skills as well as the cultural knowledge necessary for a liberal education. Many of the nation's finest graduate schools offer advanced degrees in Women's Studies. Women's Studies majors find employment in the same broad range of fields as do graduates of other liberal arts disciplines. The Women's Studies major and minor offer students an opportunity to concentrate on an area of passionate interest while acquiring skills, and interrogating perspectives, from many different disciplines. Women's Studies majors complete an ambitious independent research project of their own design in the senior year. Students may choose to major in Women's Studies, or simply to take one or more courses in the field. Many students begin with Introduction to Women's Studies (WS 140), but one can begin almost anywhere: there is a range of courses cross-listed with traditional departments from which to choose. For minors, Feminist Theory (WS 340) serves as the capstone experience. Studying in an off-campus DePauw-sponsored or GLCA program, such as the Comparative Women's Studies Program in Europe, is encouraged for majors and minors. Appropriate courses from off-campus may be applied toward the minor or major upon approval by the director of Women's Studies.

Course Catalog

Requirements for a major

Women's Studies

Total courses required Ten
Core courses WS 140, WS 340, WS 350, WS 440.
Other required courses At least one of the following:
  • WS 250, Queer Theory, Queer Lives
  • WS 260, Women of Color in the U.S.
  • WS 262, Transnational Feminisms
The remaining courses, one of which must be at the 300-level, may be drawn from the following regularly offered courses and/or from affiliated electives approved by the Women's Studies Steering Committee:
  • WS 342, Women, Health and Social Control
  • WS 362, Feminist Approaches to Environmentalism
  • WS 355, Women in Education
  • WS 332, Women, Culture and Identity
Number 300 and 400 level courses Four
Senior requirement and capstone experience The senior requirement consists of the completion of WS 440.
Additional information Students must also take at least 16 courses outside the list of women's studies courses. No more than two courses of off-campus study may be counted toward the major. Studying in an off-campus DePauw-sponsored or GLCA program such as the Comparative Women's Studies Program in Europe is encouraged for majors and minors. Appropriate courses from off campus may be applied toward the major upon approval by the Director of Women's Studies.
Recent changes in major The list of core courses and other courses was revised effective 7/1/2012.
Writing in the Major

The Women's Studies program is committed to writing that engages an audience about complex issues regarding gender, race, class, and sexuality. Social change is inextricably linked to language and powerful writing and the program is designed to provide students with the skills to write persuasively. The fundamental skills of argumentation and data analysis are emphasized in all Women's Studies classes, and are given special priority in the two courses designated for the Writing in the Major requirement: WS340, Feminist Theory, and WS350, Feminist Inquiry.

In WS340, students practice and develop writing skills geared towards argumentative papers based on theoretical concepts of feminism. The course investigates various types and styles of feminist reasoning and writing, while also looking at how feminist analyses can help approach and attack some of the urgent problems of today. In this course, students are asked to develop two research projects, in line with their own interests and commitments, and sustained by scaffolded writing assignments.

In WS350, students engage in the methods, ethical practices and concerns, and social implications of conducting feminist research. The course provides an in-depth overview of both feminist methodology, including theories of what constitutes an ethics of feminist research, and appropriate methods to conduct inter/disciplinary research for outcomes in support of social justice. In this course, students conduct their own research project that is grounded in one of the feminist methodological frameworks discussed and that utilizes one or more of the tools of inquiry (or methods) outlined in the syllabus.

Together, these courses will provide students with the ability to write about both the philosophical principles of feminism and to exercise its methodology. Both skills are necessary to engage in the work of critique and social justice that feminism has shaped.

Requirements for a minor

Women's Studies

Total courses required Five
Core courses WS 140, WS 340
Other required courses At least one of the following:
  • WS 250, Queer Theory, Queer Lives
  • WS 260, Women of Color in the U.S.

The remaining courses, one of which must be at the 300-level, can be drawn from the following regularly offered courses and/or from affiliated electives approved by the Women's Studies steering committee.

  • WS 262, Transnational Feminisms
  • WS 342, Women, Health and Social Control
  • WS 362, Feminist Approaches to Environmentalism
  • WS 355, Women in Education
  • WS 332, Women, Culture and Identity
Number 300 and 400 level courses Two