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About Gender and Women's Studies Heading link

2017 GWS graduate Ariana Johnson is embraced by Professor Jennifer Brier during graduation ceremony.

Gender and Women’s Studies Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago is a vibrant interdisciplinary department made up of scholars who study a wide range of topics critical to an expansive understanding of how and why gender and sexuality matter in the world. Whether we collect oral histories of Mexican origin women in Chicago to detail and document their extensive commitments to Chicago, or we seek to understand Arab American diasporas impact the lives of women and men in Beirut, Detroit, and San Francisco, or how LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) activists have transformed debates about justice and liberation, we are a community of scholars, students and staff who are committed to the city of Chicago as a global city.

We share our work with the communities we are in and serve, testifying to our strength as an engaged academic unit. We have been consultants to documentary films, curators for museum exhibitions, expert witnesses in sexual violence and women’s immigration cases, and designers of creative community-based programs. All of these forms, when coupled with our stellar collective record of publishing in both academic and popular venues, widens our reach in and outside the university and allows us to be in conversation with other institutions and communities doing related work.

We have a deep commitment to students at UIC. We pride ourselves on organizing our undergraduate classes around discussion, critical thinking and writing. All of the people who teach our students, whether full professors or graduate teaching assistants are committed to engaged student learning. We see our commitment to graduate students in terms of both their development as teachers and as scholars. Students who successfully complete our graduate concentration regularly go on to get jobs in the academy and in non-profit organizations dedicated to advancing gender justice. We are delighted to grant four different degrees and certificates: the GWS major, the GWS minor, and the Social Justice minor; and a graduate concentration in GWS.

In addition to the wide curricular offerings we are able to provide, two annual programs exemplify our unique mix of community-engaged scholarship and pedagogy, and help us reach learners before, during and after college. We have hosted the Model World Conference on Women’s and Girls’ Rights in collaboration with Chicago high school students and teachers. GWS faculty, staff and students (undergraduates and graduates) teach and learn with CPS teachers and students, to discuss and think about some of the most pressing issues facing women and girls around the world. Teachers and students select a country to represent, and after structured research, come to campus where about 100 students engage in a day long conversation and debate about how to imagine change. We end each year with Civic Engagement, Community Service, Community Organizing (CECSCO) celebration where we honor our alumnae and graduating students. Combining graduates with alums working in ways that honor and advance what they learned at UIC in GWS, allows us to build connections that celebrate our collective efforts.

Finally, the faculty and staff of GWS recognize that we have tremendous allies across the university and we strive to work with them to advance our scholarship, teaching and service. We plan programs with our sister interdisciplinary units, African American Studies, Global Asian Studies and Latin American and Latino Studies as well as the Gender and Sexuality Center and the six other Centers for Cultural Understanding and Social Change. Our faculty serve on advisory committees for several of the research institutes on campus including the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy, the Social Justice Initiative, and the Center for Research on Women and Gender.

We welcome opportunities to engage with students, scholars and community members.

I wish you the best for an exciting and challenging school year.

Jennifer Brier
Director of Gender and Women’s Studies
Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies & History
University of Illinois at Chicago