What is Women's and Ethnic Studies?

Women’s and Ethnic Studies is an interdisciplinary program that brings together faculty from across the campus. The WEST major and minor—as well as our certificate concentrations in Native American and Indigenous Studies, Latino/a Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Global Studies—center on the histories, experiences, and cultural expressions of women and racial or ethnic groups not only in the United States but also across the world. Our approach is intersectional in that it explores the connections among race, class, gender, sexuality, disability and other socially constructed categories. WEST emphasizes social justice and human rights, cultural responsiveness, critical and cross-disciplinary thinking, creative and innovative teaching, community engagement, sustainability, and local and global awareness. We aim to create an equitable and sustainable world by analyzing structural inequality from an historical and cultural perspective and exploring strategies for change. WEST offers one-on-one mentoring, small classes, travel courses, and a range of internship opportunities.

The Women’s and Ethnic Studies Program (WEST) is an interdisciplinary course of study that includes a major and minor. Both the major and minor center on the experiences and cultural expressions of women and/or racial and ethnic groups in the United States and globally. Our theoretical framework focuses on how race, gender, class, nationality, sexuality and other hierarchies influence people’s life chances and alliances. The WEST Program emphasizes analytical sophistication, cross-disciplinary thinking, creative and innovative teaching, and community engagement. WEST promotes curricular and faculty development and sponsors a variety of cultural programming including the annual Rosa Parks and Cesar Chavez Scholarship Competitions in collaboration with the Multicultural Office for Student Access, Inclusiveness, and Community (MOSAIC), and the Matrix Center for the Advancement of Social Equity and Inclusion. By teaching and modeling ways to work effectively with people from various socioeconomic classes, genders, racial/ethnic, religious, sexual, and national backgrounds, the degree prepares students for work in a range of fields (health care, social justice work, global education, creative and performing arts, education, etc.) and advanced masters and doctoral work in a variety of disciplines.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Interdisciplinary approach: understanding history, culture and society from a range of perspectives, including those emanating from communities whose stories and lives have been marginalized.
  • Scholarly sophistication: writing autobiographical, analytical, and research papers; creating artistic work; and expressing oneself with clarity and confidence.
  • Developing knowledge: becoming well versed in the rapidly increasing scholarship on women and racial/ethnic groups with special focus on transnational studies; literary and artistic achievements; historical, social, political and economic conditions; and families and communities.
  • Engaged teaching and learning: excelling in classes that allow students to claim an education that values their contributions, and that challenge and spark students’ intellectual imaginations.
  • Community: developing a sense of belonging to an intellectual field and community that is innovative, multiracial, and inclusive; learning to work with integrity and openness with people from diverse backgrounds; building bridges across race, class, gender, sexuality, nationality, age, disability,  and religion and apply this knowledge to other disciplines and communities; and to see a link between theory and practice.
  • Social change: to develop skills to shape our collective future in ways that foster diversity and equity. To gain the preparation needed to earn graduate degrees and/or gain employment in WEST-related fields, and to work with people from a range of backgrounds.