As the home to one of the nation's first Women's Studies programs, the University of Puget Sound has a long tradition of exploring issues pertaining to gender and sexuality. The current Gender Studies program enriches and expands the college's curriculum by illuminating the ways in which gender and multiple other converging axes of identity frame every aspect of life. Our courses explore the constructions, distinctions, relations, and connections between gender and identity, race, ethnicity, and sexuality. They draw upon a rich array of intellectual traditions, including feminist, queer, race, and post-colonial theories. The study of gender opens up broader interrelated questions about the nature of gender constructions and the effects of gender on all persons.
The five-course sequence for minors begins with an introductory course, GNDR 201, in which students explore the importance of gender in the organization of social life and in the construction of personal identity. Three elective courses follow, which expand students' knowledge of gender in specialized courses. Students integrate their studies in the capstone course, GNDR 494, the Gender Research Seminar, through the definition and implementation of their individual research projects and through discussion of interdisciplinary issues, ideas, and theories in the history and cultures of gender.
The Gender Studies Program focuses on the production of knowledge related to the categories woman and man, masculinity and femininity, female and male; because these terms always emerge in relation to one another, we believe they must be studied in tandem. We understand gender to be the construction of biologically sexed bodies into culturally-specific roles and behaviors and we seek to trouble the “naturalness” of these categories from historical and cross-cultural perspectives. Because we believe that gender definitions and roles are contingent, we view them as subject to revision and alteration. Such changes are not simple: as gender operates simultaneously on multiple registers—from the individual to the global— we believe that we must probe our own role in participating in and (re)producing gender categories, even as we seek to eliminate injustices that arise from gender inequalities.
In 2006 our program’s name changed from Women Studies to Gender Studies in order to reflect our own revisions and alterations of the meanings of “gender.” Our focus on gender reflects the complex convergences of multiple axes of identity. With gender front and center, the program examines identity categories including race, class, sexuality, ability/disability from perspectives that draw upon feminist, queer, race and post-colonial theories. The Gender Studies Program draws from scholarship in a range of intellectual traditions, including anthropology, art, biology, history, literary and media studies, rhetorical analysis, religion, sociology. This cross-fertilization energizes our analyses and produces a body of knowledge that is seldom available elsewhere in higher education.