The Women’s, Gender, Sexuality Studies (WGSS) program studies how ideas about women, gender and sexuality are organizing principles of society that intersect with racialization, urbanization, immigration, (dis)ability, religion, and a number of other historical phenomena. Our interdisciplinary program's curriculum spans the four divisions of Earlham College, and encourages every student to take artistic, literary, social scientific, historical, psychological and medical approaches to gender and sexuality.
WGSS at Earlham stands out from gender and sexuality studies programs at other liberal arts colleges in two ways. First, while feminist theory, LGBT and queer studies, postcolonial studies and women’s history are the core of our curriculum as they are at other schools, WGSS students at Earlham are particularly interested in social and economic justice. Current WGSS majors and minors are working as union organizers, in the immigrant rights movement, with Justice for Janitors and the Fight for $15, and other movements dedicated to winning the resources that women of color, queer families, single parents, poor people, and others on the margins need to survive. Second, because of our major and minor track system, the WGSS program has been of particular interest to people in the STEM fields. Physics and Biochemistry students are currently double majoring in WGSS, and Computer Science and Biology majors are minoring in WGSS. The program has been particularly helpful in preparing students for the social and cultural aspects of work in fields such as technology and engineering.
WGSS majors dedicate their first three years to deep engagement with their individual tracks of study, spending their time reading, writing, on the stage, in the laboratory, in the archive, or at work in the community. During their senior year, WGSS students do a collaborative demonstrative project, where they present their work to the wider Earlham community. They also take a capstone seminar, where they produce an original research project on an individualized topic that they workshop with their peers. Students end up with a coherent area of expertise that directly translates to their life and work after Earlham.
More from the Women's, Gender, Sexuality Studies Department:
WGSS students participated in a two-week collaborative research trip with Professor Ryan Murphy to the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. Students researched and wrote about topics including sex education, birth control, family policy and LGBT rights.
A recent WGSS graduate wrote a senior capstone project about her fieldwork with No More Deaths, a faith-based social justice organization in Tucson that provides humanitarian aid to migrants on the Southwest border. She conducted this work as part of her WGSS major on Earlham’s Border Studies Program.
Senior WGSS Majors from the class of 2019 delivered a group demonstrative project at the Center for Inclusive Gender Expression (CIGI), a campus theme house on College Avenue just east of Earlham’s campus. The students invited back LGBTQ alumni for a discussion of the changing nature of queer activism at Earlham between 1970 and the present. Seventy-five people attended, and the WGSS Department provided dinner from the popular local Indian restaurant Gulzar’s.
Nearly half of Earlham alumni enter graduate or professional school within 10 years of receiving their degrees, and Earlham ranks 29th among 1306 colleges and universities nationwide for the percentage of graduates who go on to earn a Ph.D.
WGSS graduates enter a wide range of career fields, including advocacy, education and law.