By Kim Corriher
Ohio University's Women's Studies program is getting ready for a small but meaningful change.
Effective this fall, the program will be known as Women's and Gender Studies, a modification acknowledging the varied nature of the program's curriculum over the past few years. The University Curriculum Council approved the change in January.
"We are making the change because (the new name) better reflects our work," said program Director Judith Grant, who discussed the development during Thursday's weekly Brown Bag event at the Women's Center. "Our work is not just about women or a woman's view. Areas and topics such as men and masculinity, queer studies, transgender studies are all addressed in our work. We want to make sure that is appropriately reflected."
Only the titles of the program and some of its courses will change at this point, Grant said, although a continuing evolution is inevitable.
"I predict that the program will expand and change, but that is the nature of every program on an academic campus," she said. "For now, we are just figuring out how those changes will happen and what those changes may be."
Grant said she and other faculty members are interested in one day seeing the program become a department. This would allow it to control its own faculty or budget lines rather than "borrow" faculty from other departments. (Grant herself is a member of the political science department.) It also would allow students to minor in women's and gender studies; currently, the program offers a major and a certificate.
While the decision to change the program's name may seem small, it wasn't taken lightly, Grant said. Discussions took place over more than a year's time and focused on the need to represent all work occurring within the program as well as recognize the roots of women's studies curriculum at institutions nationwide.
"Women's studies is a unique academic area because, like many ethnic studies, it is linked to a political movement," Grant said. "Women's studies was a way to bring women into the cannon and the rhetoric of the university ... to insert women into areas such as business, history and language studies.
"We want to honor that," she said. "but also to acknowledge the direction in which we are headed."