Women's Studies Changes Name
PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (Sept. 11, 2009) -- Following similar trends around the nation, the Department of Women's Studies at SUNY Plattsburgh has undergone significant curriculum transformation, including a change in the department's and degrees' name.
The program will now be known as the Department of Gender and Women's Studies. The new name more accurately reflects the mission and goals of the department as well as similar changes taking place nationally, according to Dr. Simona Sharoni, department chair.
"There has been a shift in women's studies from focusing on women as the main category of analysis to analyzing gender -- that is paying attention to constructions of femininity, masculinity, and gender relations," said Sharoni. "Men have been reluctant to pursue this course of study because they assumed they were being excluded from the curriculum."
The curriculum of the department has been modified and expanded to reflect the name change. Courses that once focused primarily on women's issues now focus on gender issues, identities, and roles. For example Global Perspectives on Women's Issues has become Global Gender Issues.
Men and Masculinities, a new general education course, has been added to the curriculum, as well. It was first offered in fall '08, with only three male students. The course quickly gained popularity, being offered online in both winter and summer. This semester 43 students enrolled in the course,one-third of them being men.
Dr. Sharoni, who teaches Men and Masculinity, is impressed with the success of the course and the men in it.
"It's a transformative experience for them. It gives them the opportunity to talk about what it means to be a man," says Sharoni. "They can relate to the material and they do great work in the class. At the same time, women are very excited to study gender alongside men as it is clear that men have a crucial role to play in the struggle for gender justice."
The size of the gender and women's studies Department has tripled since 2006. It now boasts close to 30 majors and 30 minors. The department's expansion has reached across the gender lines. Brandon Bennett became the first male to declare a minor in the program in summer of 2009.
"Gender and Women's Studies is relevant to everyone that advocates social, economic, and political equality," says Brandon. "Men especially need to take an interest in the subject as members of the culture that promotes superiority over women."