In a society where common words are being redefined such as marriage and gender, Women’s studies saw the need to move with the times and change its name to Gender and Women’s Studies in spring 2008.
‘The trend in Women’s Studies that we’ve noticed, is that we address issues beyond just women,’ said Maria Lopez-Garza, a Gender and Women’s Studies and Chicana/o studies professor.’ ‘We changed the name in order to meet the changes in the curriculum.’
The Gender and Women’s Studies department has courses that focus on ‘feminist theories, women and social movements, transnational feminisms, women of color feminisms, postcolonial feminism, women’s economic conditions in the context of globalization and development, productions of women in the media and literature, queer studies, women’s health and masculinity studies,’ as stated by the department website.
The department also highlights on its website that this name change ‘better reflects our department’s mission, curriculum learning objectives, and scope of our faculty members’ scholarship.’
‘The discipline is expanding. We are incorporating a lot of literature that touches on a lot of studies, such as queer studies,’ said Lopez-Garza.’
With the new name comes new focuses within the departments curriculum. Though the primary focus of the department is to emphasize the success of women, other aspects related to their accomplishments are also studied.
‘When the department began, our whole notion was to teach on the women’s movement. Our initial premise is to focus on the accomplishments of women,’ said Lopez-Garza. ‘It’s to narrow of a subject. How do we talk about women without talking about children, men, and even family?’ said Lopez-Garza.
Professor Lopez-Garza said that preparation for the adjustments have been on the agenda of the department for couple years now.
‘It takes a while to change anything in the curriculum,’ said Lopez-Garza. Despite the positive transition of the name change, not everyone may be on board, said Lopez-Garza.
‘Professors that have been here for some time may have been nervous, but it’s important as a department to be ready for change,’ said Lopez-Garza.
With change comes adjustments and tying up loose ends, and the department is steadily working through the few stumbling blocks that have come up.
‘In changing the name, we are lacking in the area of getting information out to students about the name change. I worry that students will not be able to find us in the schedule of classes when enrolling online,’ said Lopez-Garza.
‘We have had problems informing students electronically about the change.’
The department, which was previously listed under the abbreviation ‘WS,’ is now listed in the schedule of classes under the abbreviation ‘GWS.’
Some of the classes that focus not only on women, but on gender within the department are GWS340, ‘Women, Gender, and Global Development’ and GWS 350, ‘Gender, Race, Class, and Sexuality.’
The name change is also sitting well with students, who seem to be on board.
‘I think it’s great that they are updating the department name,’ said Ashley Reese, a 23-year-old psychology major.
‘I’ve always wondered why the name was so narrow, when the department covers so much more than just women. I also learned about men in the class I took.’
Additional information about the department and the name change can be found online at the department website, www.csun.edu/ws.