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Sonoma State University


Department Office
Rachel Carson Hall 18
(707) 664-2840

Department Chair
Cindy Stearns
Administrative Coordinator
Marcella Salisbury

Nan Alamilla Boyd,Velma Guillory Taylor,
Cindy Stearns, *E. Kay Trimberger, Charlene Tung,
*Faculty Early Retirement Program

Programs offered
Major in Women's and Gender Studies
Minor in Women's and Gender Studies
Career Minor in Women's Health

Women's and Gender Studies is an interdisciplinary major that examines the experiences and opportunities of women and men in relation to race, ethnicity, class, and sexuality. WGS places gender in specific cultural and historical contexts in relation to families, communities, and nations. In addition, feminist scholarship in recent years has inspired a vast array of work on those who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered. Uniting inquiry in Women's and Gender Studies is the effort to understand and explain the inequalities between and among men and women and to envision change.

The Women's and Gender Studies Department allows students to engage in both classroom and community work. In addition to building skills through coursework in social science research methods, feminist theory, and a substantial original research project, students are also required to complete at least four units of internship in a community organization. These combined experiences provide Women's and Gender Studies students with an opportunity to apply the theories and methods discussed in the classroom, and importantly, develop diverse skills for the job market.

Women's and Gender Studies graduates hold tools - knowledge of gender issues, critical thinking skills and breadth of perspective - that public service organizations, private industry, government, and graduate schools want and need. The Women's and Gender Studies major or minor provides excellent preparation for students going into teaching, counseling, social work, public relations, public policy and management, advocacy work, and other fields. WGS graduates also pursue advanced degrees in education, law, public policy, history, psychology, sociology, and other areas.

The Women's and Gender Studies department participates in conferences and offers courses and internships on gender issues in education. We also participate in a teacher preparation program that certifies the subject matter competence in social studies required for entry into a teaching credential program and exempts the student from taking the Praxis II Subject Assessment Examination in the social sciences.

Major in Women's and Gender Studies

The major is an interdisciplinary curriculum which explores the nature and function of gender socialization, gender roles, and gender stratification. This includes contemporary, historical and cross-cultural examinations of the impact of gender on the division of labor, the social construction of intimacy, sexuality and family, mechanisms of governmental and social control, the content and conduct of academic research and teaching and the interacting systems of racial, ethnic, and class stratification. Women's and Gender Studies also focuses on how ideological conceptions of masculinity and femininity shape human development.

The Women's and Gender Studies major is constructed to encourage students to double-major or to minor in another discipline. The major has three components:
1. An interdisciplinary core of 21 units that exposes students to feminist theory and research about women and gender.
2. A disciplinary concentration of 15 units that exposes students to how gender analysis has developed within, and influenced, a specific discipline.
3. Skills application in education or human services through a total of 8 units of coursework and internships in organizations or in teaching.

Bachelor of Arts in Women's and Gender Studies

Degree Requirements Units
General education 51
Major core requirements 44
Electives 25
Total units needed for graduation 120

I. Core Requirements

WGS 280 Women's Bodies: Health and Image OR
WGS 285 Men's Health, Men's Lives OR
WGS 350 Gender, Sexuality, and Family
WGS 375 Gender, Race, and Class 3
WGS 425 Feminist Research Methods 4
WGS 475 Contemporary Feminist Theory 4
WGS 485 Senior Seminar 4
Electives 3

Any combination of courses from women's and gender studies and/or other departments that focus on gender issues. These courses must be in addition to those taken to fulfill II and III below.

Total core units 21

II. Disciplinary Concentration

Students must specialize in one discipline (defined as any recognized major or minor in the University) by completing 15 units of course work in that area as follows:

  1. A course on women, men, or gender (3-4 units). Examples: Sociology of Gender, Women Writers, Gender and Archaeology, or Women in U.S. History;
  2. An introductory (3-4 units) course in the discipline (may be lower or upper division); and
  3. Additional upper-division courses (8-10 units) in the discipline, chosen in consultation with a women's and gender studies advisor.
Total disciplinary units 15

III. Skills Application in Education or Human Services

WGS 490 Gender, Work, and Organization 4
WGS 395/499 CIP/Internships 4

Internships must be completed in an appropriate community organization or an organization concerned with gender change. Examples: Commission on the Status of Women, Women's Resource Center, National Women's History Project, Men Evolving Non-Violently.

Total skills application units 8
Total units necessary for major 44

Minor in Women's and Gender Studies

The minor in Women's and Gender Studies is an interdisciplinary curriculum that applies feminist perspectives to the study of women and men. It draws upon both courses offered through the women's and gender studies department (e.g., WGS 350) and courses on women offered through various departments on a regular and occasional Special Topics basis. The minor is composed of 10 units of core courses and at least 6 units of supporting courses, for a minimum total of 16 units. At least 13 of these units must be upper division.

Minor Core Requirements

The core courses provide an organized framework for understanding women's and men's lives and experience individually, within cultural groups, and from a societal perspective. It is recommended that students enroll in the core courses in the following order:

WGS 280 Women's Bodies: Health and Image OR  
WGS 285 Men's Health, Men's Lives) OR  
WGS 350 Gender, Sexuality, and Family 3
WGS 375 Gender, Race, and Class 3
WGS 475 Contemporary Feminist Theory 4

Minor Supporting Courses (7 units)

Minors in women's and gender studies must complete at least two courses from at least two of the following categories for a total of 7 units.

Note: Courses on women and gender offered in other departments can fulfill these requirements.

  1. Women and Gender in American Society
  2. Women and Gender in the Humanities
  3. Biological and Psychological Perspective on Women or Gender
  4. Women or Gender in International and Cross-Cultural Perspective
  5. Special Topics on Women or Gender

Please come to the Women's and Gender Studies Department office (664-2840), Rachel Carson 18 for further information and for current offerings or call Charlene Tung 664-2086 or Cindy Stearns 664-2708 or Nan Alamilla Boyd, 664-2574.

Total units in supporting courses 6
Total units in the minor 16

Career Minor in Women's Health

Women's health is a large and growing area of research and policy interest in the United States. The career minor in women's health provides students with interdisciplinary coursework, training, and work experience in the politics, practice, and experience of women's health. Career needs of both health care providers and liberal arts and sciences majors are addressed. It is a highly suitable program for those interested in pursuing careers as nurses, physicians, counselors, therapists, public health workers, research analysts, and policy makers, and in a variety of other fields.

Program Advisor

Cindy Stearns, Women's and Gender Studies
Rachel Carson Hall 32, 707 664-2708/2840

Minor Core Requirements (6 units)

WGS 280 Women's Bodies: Health and Image 3
NURS 480 Health, Sexuality, and Society or
WGS 350 Gender, Sexuality, and Family

Practical Application (3-4 units)

WGS 499 Internship in Women's Health Setting (4) or
NURS 425 Senior Clinical Study (3)

Electives (10-11 units)

All electives must be health (including mental health) related. When the health course does not explicitly deal with women's health, students are expected to do their term papers and projects on women's health issues and to be prepared to share these course materials with the program coordinator.

Suggested Electives

AMCS 432 Health and Culture 3
ANTH 370: Cultures, Illness, and Healing 3
ANTH 372: Talk About Feeling Sick 3
GEOG 396 Medical Geography 3
GERN 300 Basic Gerontology 3
NURS 340 Health and Illness in the Expanding Family 4
NURS 360 Community Health Nursing 3
PSY 404/WGS 330 Psychology of Women 4
PSY 408 Transitions in Adult Development 4
PSY 454 Biofeedback and Somatic Psychology 4
SOCI 452 Health Care and Illness (cross-listed as GERN 452) 4
WGS 301 Women's Health Lecture Series 1-2
WGS/NURS 495 Special Study Research on Women's Health 1-4
Total units required in the minor 20

For more information call Cindy Stearns (707) 664-2708 or come to the Women's and Gender Studies Department office in Rachel Carson 18.

Sample Four-Year Plan for Women's and Gender Studies Major

Plan to complete the major (44 units) and graduate (120 units) in eight semesters starting in the freshman year. This major is organized to facilitate a double major or minor in another discipline. Hence 20 units of the major can be counted toward the double major. (e.g., all the disciplinary concentration and 4 additional units can be counted for both majors).

Freshman Year: 30 Units

Fall Semester (15 Units) Spring Semester (15 Units)
GE (3), GE (3) GE (3), GE (3)
GE (3), GE (3), GE (3) GE (3), GE (3), GE (3)

Sophomore Year: 30 Units

Fall Semester (16 Units) Spring Semester (14 Units)
WGS 280 (GE) (3) or WGS 285 (3) WGS elective (3)
Lower-division course in disciplinary concentration (4) Disciplinary course (4)
GE (3) GE (3)
Electives (6) Electives (4)

Junior Year: 30 Units

Fall Semester (17 Units) Spring Semester (13 Units)
WGS 375 (3) WGS 490 (4) and WGS 499 (2)
Gender course in disciplinary concentration (4) Disciplinary course needed for 20-unit minor (4)
WGS 350 (3) Upper-division GE (3)
Disciplinary course needed to complete a minor (4)  
Upper-division GE (3)  

Senior Year: 30 Units

Fall Semester (17 Units) Spring Semester (13 Units)
WGS 425 (4) WGS 485 (4)
WGS 475 (4) WGS 499 (2)
Electives (9) Electives (7)
Total semester units: 120

Sample Four-Semester Plan for Women's and Gender Studies Major

Plan for transfer students and those who declare a major in women's and gender studies at the start of their junior year. (This plan assumes the student has completed 62 units toward graduation and all lower-division GE.) This plan is organized to facilitate a minor in another discipline.

Junior Year: 29 Units

Fall Semester (14 Units) Spring Semester (15 Units)
WGS 350 (3) WGS 375 (3)
WGS Elective (3) WGS 490 (4) and WGS 499 (2)
Gender course in disciplinary concentration (4) Disciplinary course (4)
Course in disciplinary concentration (4) Upper-division GE (3)

Senior Year: 30-32 Units

Fall Semester (16 Units) Spring Semester (15 Units)
WGS 425 (4) WGS 485 (4)
WGS 475 (4) WGS 499 (2)
Disciplinary course (4) WGS elective (3)
Course to complete the minor in a discipline (4) Upper-division GE (3)
  Electives (3)
Total semester units: 120

Women's and Gender Studies Courses (WGS)

Classes are offered in the semesters indicated. Please see Schedule of Classes for most current information and faculty assignments.

280 Women's Bodies: Health and Image (3) Fall, Spring

This course examines research and theory about the health and body image concerns of women throughout the life cycle. This includes the gender politics of medical research, mental health, body image, reproductive health and chronic illness. Students will be exposed to current theoretical work and writing about the body in society, including weight and appearance issues for women across race and social class. Students will develop the skills necessary to become better consumers of health information, including training in how to evaluate the quality of medical and health information available on the World Wide Web. Satisfies GE, category E.

285 Men's Health, Men's Lives (3)

The purpose of this course is to examine men's mental and physical health within the larger context of men's lives. A multidisciplinary perspective will be used to explore how various populations of men experience health, disease and disability, the social sources of health and illness, and men's body image concerns. In addition, this course will develop an understanding of various theories of manhood or masculinity, and explore how men's participation in various activities - including relationships, family, fatherhood, sports, crime, and violence - influence their health and well-being. Satisfies GE, category E.

301 Feminist Lecture Series (1-2) / Fall, Spring

A weekly lecture series (or occasional workshops) offering presentations and discussions of current issues from feminist perspectives. There is usually a semester-long focus on a particular topic, such as women's health. The lectures are open to the community. May be repeated for credit. Cr/NC only.

311 Special Topics in Women and Gender Studies (1-4)

A variable-topics seminar focusing upon intensive study of specific topics in WGS. Examples of topics include peer education, global feminism, queer lives, and service learning. May be repeated for credit.

325 Youth: Gender Perspectives (3-4)

This course examines youth, focusing on the complex interconnection of gender, race/ ethnicity, social class, sexuality, and other factors in understanding the experiences and social conditions of children in the US, as well as the methodological issues that arise in conducting research on children. This course requires community service.

330 Psychology of Women (3-4)

An exploration of the psychology of women, with attention to issues of power and conflict, intimacy and dependence, special concerns in therapy for women, and the impact of race, class, ethnicity and sexual preference on women's psychological development. Cross-listed as PSY 404.

350 Gender, Sexuality, and Family (3) Fall, Spring

An exploration of changing ideals and practices of gender, sexuality, and family life in the United States, drawing especially on recent feminist scholarship. Topics for reading and discussion will focus on both women and men. Fulfills upper-division GE, category E (The Integrated Person). Prerequisites: ENGL 101 or PHIL 101; and one course in sociology, psychology, American history or women's studies; or consent of the instructor.

355 Queer Theory, Queer Lives (4)

This course will introduce the field of queer studies by looking at LGBTQ (Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) lives in the context of US history, politics, and culture. Course topics include the history of LGBTQ communities in the US, an introduction to queer theory, and a structured analysis of contemporary topics.

365 Women's History and Women's Activism (3)

This course will take an activist-historical perspective on the history of American women. The course will review historical figures and trends and the history of feminist activism, especially concerning writing women into history and the struggles for equality beginning with the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848.

375 Gender, Race, and Class (3) Fall, Spring

An overview of the interaction of race, gender, and class oppression and resistance in the historical and contemporary experience of Native American, Asian American, African American, and Latino/Chicano women and men. The course seeks to enhance understanding of how racism, sexism, and classism function in the political, social, and economic systems of the United States. Students will have an opportunity to acquire knowledge of how race, gender, and class function and intersect with other issues. Satisfies GE, category D1 (Individual and Society, meets Ethnic Studies requirement).

380 Gender and Social Movements (3)

Social movements organized around gender issues and identities are significant sources of social change in modern societies. This course analyzes the structure and dynamics of social movements based on gender, with attention to the roles or organizations, resources, leadership, recruitment, commitment, values, ideology, political culture, and countermovements. Case studies will emphasize the women's suffrage movement, the women's peace movement, the feminist movement that began in the 1960s as well as its offshoots and countermovements, the gay and lesbian rights movement, and recent men's movements. Cross-listed as SOCI 497.

385 Gender and Globalization (1-4)

This class will use an interdisciplinary approach to explore how gender, race, class, sexuality, nation, and colonialism intersect locally and globally and to understand how gender shapes the realities of women world-wide. We will frame our analyses within an understanding of the processes of globalization and global communities.

395 Community Involvement Program (1-4)

The purpose of CIP is to encourage student involvement in the community. Projects sponsored by women's and gender studies focus upon women's needs and organizations. Cr/NC only.

399 Student-Instructed Course (1-4)

An introductory or advanced course designed by a senior or graduate student and taught under the supervision of faculty sponsor(s). Consult the women's and gender studies flyer for the current semester for descriptions of course offerings. Cr/NC only.

425 Feminist Research Methods (4) Fall

A feminist critique of traditional methods of constructing knowledge and research practices and a discussion of gender-inclusive research strategies. Students will be given instruction in library and electronic information retrieval and in grant writing for research funding. Students will design, execute, and report on a research project.

475 Contemporary Feminist Theory (4) Fall

This course examines both historical and contemporary trends in feminist theory. Students will examine how feminist theory might address the complex relationship between race-ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, and nation as they relate to (for example) the production of knowledge, the implementation of theory and practice, and social change/activism. Prerequisite: WGS 280 or WGS 350, or by instructor's consent.

485 Senior Seminar (3) Spring

This course provides WGS students an opportunity for advanced study on a special topic each semester (determined by instructor). The seminar format allows students an intensive experience and heightened responsibility for course content. Students will write research papers or design organization/advocacy programming as appropriate. The course should be taken during the student's senior year. Prerequisite: WGS 280 or WGS 350 or 375, or by instructor's consent.

490 Gender, Work, and Organization (4) Spring

A review and critical evaluation of research on gender, work, and organization. Topics include: gender differences in earnings, advancement and career selection, bureaucratic and alternative forms of work organization, balancing work and family demands, and practical and policy solutions for gendered problems men and women face in the workplace.

492 Syllabus Design (1) Fall, Spring

Students work on an individual basis with a faculty member to develop reading materials, lecture, and discussion topics, and assignments appropriate to the teaching of a specific student-taught course in women's and gender studies. Student-taught courses must be approved by the chair, and students must follow established procedural guidelines for teaching in the women's and gender studies program. Most student teachers are required to take WGS 492 before teaching, and WGS 493 while teaching.

493 Teaching Supervision (1) Fall, Spring

In order to continue professional skill development in the teaching of adults, students enroll in WGS 499 in order to instruct a student-taught class in Women's and Gender Studies. Students acting as teaching assistants in the University or teaching adults in a community context may also enroll in this course. Prerequisite: WGS 492; Corequisite: WGS 499, or consent of instructor.

495 Special Studies (1-4)

Upper-division students may elect to do an independent research or action project under the direction of a women's and gender studies faculty member.

499 Internship (1-4)

Supervised training and experience for advanced students in community agencies concerned with women's and men's issues and gender change. Student teaching of a student-taught university course is another form of internship. At present we offer credit (and not a grade) for student teaching and off-campus projects. Special contracts are required and are obtainable either in the department office or the Center for Field Experience. Internships may be paid. Cr/NC only.

Graduate Courses

500 Seminar in Feminist Theory and Research in the Social Sciences (3) Spring

A survey of feminist critiques of social science theory and research in various disciplines (depending on student interest): anthropology, history, political science, psychology, and sociology. A survey of feminist attempts to reformulate and transform social science theory and methods, including debates and disagreements among feminist scholars. Requirements will include an individual research project and analysis. Prerequisite: at least one course in a social science and at least one course that focuses on women or gender (course may be at graduate or undergraduate level).