The Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program encourages you to question—and, often, unlearn—conventional thinking about gender and sexuality.
Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program
The Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program at Otterbein seeks a critical understanding of gender, sexuality, and power across cultural contexts, social locations, and disciplinary boundaries. In the program, you will explore the complex links between sex, gender, and identity; the way that sexed and gendered identities intersect with racial, ethnic, class, and national identities; the gendered dynamics of power and oppression; and the relationship between theory (or knowledge production) and action (or social change).
Because the program investigates three distinct but overlapping fields of inquiry, you will get a chance to develop and deepen a number of critical vocabularies. You will study various approaches to intersectional feminism: as a political movement, a philosophical foundation, an ethical project, and a deeply personal set of commitments. You will work to understand and complicate binary and fixed understandings of gender. And you will examine the wide diversity of sexual practices, expressions, and identities as well as question the processes and practices of normalization which esteem certain sexualities and devalue others. Whether you are discussing feminist, gender, or sexuality studies, you will always develop political forms of critique at the same time you produce emancipatory forms of knowledge.
Why study Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies at Otterbein?
Currently, there are nearly one hundred undergraduate programs in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies in the US. When Otterbein created its program in 2009, there were about forty degree-granting programs, and most of them were housed in large research or Ivy League universities. As a smaller university with a central commitment to liberal learning, we are proud of the fact that we have been part of this rapidly evolving conversation for over a decade. We are also proud of the distinct approach to Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies that we have developed at Otterbein.
Before all else, we are committed to learning that is intellectually and personally relevant, experiential in its form, and transformative in its impact. We are also praxis-oriented, or dedicated to theory-making and activism that contributes to the betterment of the lives of marginalized people.
At Otterbein, we have built a curriculum that provides depth and breadth. After the completion of foundational courses in WGSS, we invite our students to create a concentration, or focus area, in addition to a wider exploration of elective courses in the major. We provide opportunities for our students to earn practicum credit for their work as peer advocates in our Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Resource Center, editorial staff of our program zine kate, or a peer teaching assistant for the introductory WGSS course. We offer our graduating seniors three possible pathways to the completion of a senior capstone: a practicum in collective action, a research or creative project, or a capstone internship.
In every WGSS classroom, we encourage feminist and anti-oppressive pedagogies. We believe that education exists to evolve us as individuals and a community, and we approach students as whole persons rather than rote learners.
We strongly encourage WGSS students to engage themselves in meaningful social action on our campus as well as the larger Columbus community. Many of our students are involved in social change and activist efforts that extend from classroom learning. We shape campus initiatives, participate in local teach-ins and demonstrations, and build supportive relationships with community leaders and partners.
As a program, we sponsor regular and innovative co-curricular programming that addresses issues that impact our students and the larger culture. Whether we are discussing street art as political protest, witchcraft as subversion, menstrual stigma and the drive to provide free and accessible products for all menstruators, trans politics, reproductive justice activism, queer cinema, or the lived experience of asexuality, we are consistently looking to open new dialogue with WGSS students as well as the Otterbein campus as a whole.
Finally, the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program is as an advocate for all Otterbein students, staff, and faculty who identify as women and LGBTQIA+. We staff and support a Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Resource Center that provides access to confidential peer advocates to students in distress. And we oversee a LGBTQIA+ Student Emergency Fund that offers immediate financial relief to LGBTQIA+ students in need.
If you are forward and free thinking, interdisciplinary in your approach to learning, and eager for an education that engages you in and outside of the classroom, the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program at Otterbein is the right fit for you. And you are the right fit for us.