What is Women’s Studies?

Despite its name, Women’s Studies is not exclusively about or for women. In fact, people of all sexes and genders take Women’s Studies courses. Women’s Studies courses are explicitly feminist in that they put the myriad experiences and perspectives of women, and concerns about racialized, heteronormative gender formations, at the centre of inquiry.

Photo by Tommy Miles (tomathon) from Flickr. Some Rights Reserved

Women’s Studies courses ask questions about power: Who has it? Why? Under what circumstances? Who benefits? Who doesn’t?

  • Women’s Studies courses ask how things that seem “normal” and “natural” got to be that way.
  • Women’s Studies courses are intersectional; they make the invisible visible by focusing explicitly on the dynamic experiences and concerns of those groups of people are marginalized based on a variety of identities, including (but not limited to): sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, skin color, immigration status, ability, religion, and socio-economic status.
  • Women’s Studies courses are interdisciplinary; we use any and all appropriate and relevant methods, approaches and perspectives from across the fine arts, social sciences, humanities, and biological sciences.
  • Women’s Studies courses are transnational, which means that they endeavor to connect the local to the global by putting Calgary, Alberta and Canada within a global context.
  • Women’s Studies courses are learner-centred; professors are committed to a critical teaching style that challenges students to, in the words of feminist poet and theorist Adrienne Richclaim their education.
Mrs. Nellie McClung, one of the Famous Five, was a notable Canadian feminist, politician, and social activist.
Mrs. Nellie McClung, one of the Famous Five, was a notable Canadian feminist, politician, and social activist.

The Women’s Studies Program and faculty here at MRU strive to mobilize the revolutionary potential of Women’s Studies to achieve social justice by helping students to start thinking about how they can use what they’re learning to change the world.

To find out more, check out March 2010 Reflector article written by former MRU campus reporter—and Women’s Studies student!—Gabrielle Domanski.

The field of Women’s Studies began in the 1970s, and today, most universities throughout North America offer Women’s Studies courses and degrees.  The professional association for Women’s Studies in Canada is called the Canadian Women’s Studies Association.

For more information, please contact the WMST@MRU Program Coordinator, Professor Kimberly A. Williams, via e-mail at kawilliams(at)mtroyal.ca.