Women's Studies to Remain Women's Studies

The women's studies program at Moravian College, which has offered a minor in the subject since 1994, was almost renamed earlier this month. And though the interdisciplinary program will retain its original name, the conversation about a name change underscores the challenges faced by academic programs that focus on the lives and experiences of women. For one thing, the feminist connotations of title "women's studies" scares away some of today's students (both male and female). "We want to be responsive to the concerns of this generation of students," says Sandy Bardsley, assistant professor of history, who became chair of the Women's Studies Advisory Committee earlier this year. "On the other hand, we don’t want to water down the subject," she adds, "or perhaps reinforce the wrong perceptions."

The Advisory Committee, previously directed by professor of psychology Stacey Zaremba, had already been considering these questions. But then a proposed course on the history of masculinity brought them to the forefront. Could the new class be an elective as part of the women's studies minor? Wouldn't it make more sense in a program titled "gender studies" or "women and gender studies"? A request to the campus community for input brought many gratifying and thoughtful comments on both sides of the issue, Professor Bardsley notes. "We heard from students, faculty, staff, even from an alum," she says. "We were very pleased by their interest." The name will stay the same, she says, but the discussion also yielded an adjustment, pending official approval: students pursuing a women's studies minor will have the option of taking one course in gender or masculinity studies. The advisory council is also revising the criteria for what qualifies as a women's studies course. And beginning spring 2008, Women’s Studies 101 will be designated as a LinC M5 course. "We’re hoping this will get more students interested in the program," professor Bardsley adds.

More details about Moravian's women's studies program here.