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Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

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The Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies (WGSS) Program at WWU pursues critical inquiry through queer and feminist scholarship, teaching, and activism. We draw on intersectional and interdisciplinary approaches to study how sex, gender, and sexuality are shaped by race, indigeneity, ethnicity, class, age, ability, nationality, and religion. The program prepares students to pursue grad school, as well as careers in law, social service, counseling, public policy, health care, teaching, and the arts.

The program offers a BA in WGSS along with a WGSS Minor.

Major & Minor Declarations

Ready to declare the Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies major or minor? Please complete Section I of the following e-form and submit to the WGSS dept email for approval (WGSS@wwu.edu): 

major declaration form

minor declaration form

WGSS Student Spotlight!

Congratulations to Skylar Tibbets on being selected as the 2021 Outstanding Graduate! 

Skylar is the 2021 WGSS Outstanding Graduate because of her intellect, her passion for learning, and her talent at working with others. Skylar is a double-major with English and an Honors student, too. She seems to have impressed just about every faculty member who had the privilege of working with her. Her GPA is phenomenal and everything she does suggests great promise for the future. As the faculty member who nominated her wrote "Skylar is an outstanding WGSS student [who] wrote excellent papers and presentations on the importance of intersectionality and LGBTQ+ rights." We are very proud to have Skylar Tibbetts as the WGSS Outstanding Graduate.

Meet the 2020 Outstanding Graduate, Emma Toth! 

Emma Toth of Seattle graduated in March 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts degree with two majors, political science and also women, gender, and sexuality studies. Toth was active on campus as a member of the Professional Women's Association, Western Feminists Club and the Community Ambassador Network. Her academic pursuits included an independent study project on "The Politics of Listening", which hat fused feminist and political theories of listening and storytelling with legal studies and case law to illustrate how the justice system can delegitimize sexual assault allegations. In the Bellingham community, Toth served on the board of the York Neighborhood Association and also campaigned and canvassed for local candidates. Now Toth is studying for LSATs, as she plans to apply to law schools soon. A graduate of John F Kennedy Catholic Memorial High School, she is the daughter of Erik Toth and Jennifer Toth.

Learn more about additional 2019/20 CHSS Outstanding Graduates in Western Today

About WGSS

The WGSS program at WWU pursues critical inquiry through queer and feminist scholarship, teaching, and activism. We draw on intersectional and interdisciplinary approaches to study how sex, gender, and sexuality are shaped by race, indigeneity, ethnicity, class, age, ability, nationality, and religion. We interrogate the conditions that render specific populations vulnerable to violence in a range of local and transnational contexts. We also seek to study and cultivate strategies of resistance. In doing so, we address issues such as war and militarism, political and social policy, the environment, education, healthcare, economics, the media, art, literature, and popular culture. To achieve these goals, we foster multiple modes of intellectual inquiry and creative pedagogies to promote transformative thinking, collaboration, and activism that ends oppression and demands liberation and justice. 

WGSS prides itself on both the intellectual and experiential engagement of its students. The WGSS curriculum provides students with the skills to critically and actively engage with the world around them. Many of our courses look to connect academia to the material world by investigating the relationship between theory and practice — a central commitment of much feminist, gender, and queer scholarship. Our courses are characterized by rigorous and sustained critical thinking, inquiry, and analysis: skills central to the task of enhancing equality, dignity, and empowerment.

Drawing on the rich pool of academic expertise at Western, the program emphasizes theories and practices derived from feminist, queer, postcolonial, multiracial, and multicultural contexts. Our curriculum emphasizes scholarly engagement with a wide range of disciplines, including: history, fine and performing art, literature, creative writing, political science, communication studies, anthropology, sociology, psychology, environmental studies, visual culture, journalism, education, and science.

WGSS students enjoy small class sizes and close faculty interaction. Our community is intellectually challenging, supportive, and creative. Our diverse faculty encourages scholarship that is interdisciplinary and intersectional. Individual concentrations and senior projects evolve along with students' intellectual and experiential growth and academic expertise.

WGSS has identified a set of learning outcomes for its undergraduate curriculum.  Among an array of potentially valuable outcomes, the following represent especially important areas of expertise for each student who graduates from the program: 

  • (SLO1) Understand intersectional, feminist, and queer theories, epistemologies, and methodological approaches. 
  • (SLO2) Demonstrate an ability to implement intersectional, feminist, and queer theories, epistemologies, and methodological approaches in scholarly work, activism, and/or creative activities. 
  • (SLO3) Analyze gender as it intersects with other relations of power and privilege, such as race, ethnicity, sexuality, sex, class, nationality, religion, geography, ability, and age; distinguish universalist understandings of gender, women, and sexuality from multi-dimensional analyses that recognize interconnectivity and mutual constitution of categories. 
  • (SLO4) Engage in a variety of intersectional, queer, and feminist approaches, linking theory with practice. Learn how to be an effective advocate informed by transnational, political, sociocultural, and philosophical contexts. Undertake critical reflection and praxis in order to respond imaginatively to social, political, and intellectual issues. 

WGSS students have conducted research/field internships that engage a variety of issues—political campaigns, safe sex education, domestic violence and sexual assault prevention strategies, queer aesthetics, women's health, post-colonial literature, transnational feminist practices, and feminist art and protest movements.

The WGSS program prepares students with a solid foundation to pursue careers in fields such as law, social services, counseling, public policy, heath care, teaching, and the arts. We also give students a strong foundation for pursuing graduate work in women and gender studies, as well as in such disciplines as political science, communication studies, literature, journalism, history, cultural studies, law, education, policy, and social welfare.