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Major in Women’s and Gender Studies
See through the lens of gender.
The women’s and gender studies major explores how gender intersects with areas such as sexuality, race, ethnicity, religion, and other social identities — historically and now. You’ll explore women’s issues, the social construction of femininities and masculinities, and the gendered dimensions of virtually anything.
This interdisciplinary program incorporates perspectives from dozens of faculty across the university. From the personal to the political, from theory to practice, you’ll be expected to analyze and discuss diverse viewpoints and engage with gender issues on campus, in the Worcester community, and beyond.
Why Major in Women’s and Gender Studies at Clark?
- Gain insights from applications of feminist theory that push you to think more critically about ideas and events that you encounter in your everyday life, while using gender analysis to understand and evaluate the lived experiences of diverse individuals and communities.
- Develop an individualized area of specialization with the help of a faculty adviser; complete a minor or concentration — or a second major — in another field, as required, to support your specialization and to reinforce connections with other disciplines.
- Carry forward a tradition of activism: Women’s and Gender Studies is a program with a history dating from the 1970s, when student activists urged their feminist mentors to begin offering courses in women’s studies.
- Women’s and gender studies is one of seven undergraduate programs affiliated with Clark’s Center for Gender, Race and Area Studies, a community of faculty and students who study diverse, disadvantaged, or marginalized societies and populations, with an emphasis on promoting social justice.
75 years of women undergraduates at Clark
Professor Cynthia Enloe named to Gender Justice Legacy Wall
Your Will. Your Way.
The Major Path
Core courses in Women’s and Gender Studies — WGS 110 – Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies and WGS 200 – Introduction to Feminist Theory — will provide you with a solid foundation in women’s studies and gender analysis, while courses selected from many other departments will introduce you to a range of disciplinary approaches and perspectives.
Choose a specialization
Faculty from across disciplines are committed to teaching courses that explore the intersections of gender with sexuality, race, ethnicity, religion, age, class, ability, and other social identities, from within their disciplinary homes. You’ll work closely with a faculty adviser affiliated with the WGS program to refine your interests and develop an individualized area of specialization within the field. Areas of specialization cross at least two academic departments and form a coherent theme, such as:
- Women in comparative fiction
- Gender and environment
- Gender, war, and militaries
- Gender, identity, and sexuality
- Feminist critiques of globalization
You are required to complete a minor or concentration (a second major is strongly encouraged) in another field to support your specialization and to reinforce connections with other academic disciplines. Some popular combinations include: English, history, political science, psychology, and sociology.
Courses to support advanced study
After taking a skills or methods course to support advanced study in your area of specialization, you will be able to apply the knowledge and skills gained through WGS coursework to a culminating research project or applied experience through an advanced research seminar, internship, or a directed study with a faculty member. Our students contribute to the production of knowledge in both activist and scholarly spheres.
The Hazel Hughes Award
This award is presented in honor of the former Dean of Women, Hazel Hughes, for outstanding academic achievement by an undergraduate student.
The Alice Higgins Award
This awards is presented in honor of long-time Clark trustee and supporter of women’s and gender studies, Alice Higgins, for outstanding contributions to women and girls at Clark University and/or in the wider community.
The Cynthia Enloe Scholar/Activist Award
Created in honor of Professor Cynthia Enloe, this aware is given to the student who has worked hard to advance scholarship in women’s and gender studies and has been an activist in this cause.
During your junior year, you might be accepted into the women’s and gender studies honors program. Joining the program means you’ll work closely with a professor to create a thesis on a topic of your choice. Learn more
Building your foundation
The Clark Experience
We structure our curriculum around Liberal Education and Effective Practice (LEEP), which connects classroom learning with action through world and workplace experiences.
We’ve Got It Covered
Gender and Environment
From “Mother Earth” to “Father Sky,” gender concepts are embedded in our understanding of the environment. Explore how gender affects human settlement and land-use patterns, as well as ecological practices.
Throughout history, audacious, ambitious women have been called saints, sinners, prostitutes, witches, and nasty. In this course, you’ll explore the experiences and treatment of such “dangerous” women.
Women in Hispanic Literature and Art
Consider topics like identity formation, sexuality, education, self-representation, and others as you delve into works of literature, film, and painting created by female artists from Spain and Latin America.
Women and War
Women have assumed both active and passive roles in violent conflict since the beginning of time. Here you’ll examine the impact of war on women and develop a broader understanding of women’s role in society.
Human Rights and Literature
Through readings, class discussions, and outreach to local human rights organizations, you’ll trace the meaning of human rights — along with who counts as human — from the Age of Enlightenment to the present day.
Psychology of Sexual Orientation
Sexual orientation is the focus of many current social and political debates. Examine the nature of sexual orientation, how it’s assessed and measured, and shifts in the way it’s understood in today’s society.
Introduction to Socio-Cultural Anthropology
Use anthropological observation and problem-solving to gain insight into other cultures — and your own; and explore the practicality of applying anthropological knowledge to further the cause of a more just world.
History of Sexuality from the Enlightenment to the Present
Investigate how past societies determined which sexual behaviors were licit or illicit, and the institutions and individuals responsible for the regulation, repression, and occasional encouragement of the practices.
Making Gender Through the Eighteenth-Century Novel
Did you know that gender roles became more clearly defined in 18th-century Britain? Uncover how the texts of this period helped shape perceptions of masculinity and femininity, both socially and culturally.
Women During the Holocaust
While often less empowered than men, the lives of women in the past are nonetheless worthy of study. See why as you explore their experiences in the Holocaust — as victims, perpetrators, rescuers, and resisters.
In this student-led seminar, you’ll develop an overview of queer theory through five main topics: identity construction, activism and application, class and power, intersectional identities, and nationalism.
Masculinities in American History and Culture
Dissect the major trends that have created, influenced — and undermined — various masculine identities over time in the United States, as well as masculinity’s intersection with race, sexuality, class, and ability.
Explore what the Women's and Gender Studies Program has to offer.