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Gender & Women’s Studies’ Impact

Making connections between the classroom and community is at the heart of what we do. In our Gender & Women's Studies (GWS) and Social Justice (SJ) courses, students participate in a variety of engaged learning opportunities on and off campus. Many GWS and SJ students partake in organizing and activist work separate from any course assignments. The scholarship and ideas they study in their classes enhance this work, providing useful theories and analytic frameworks to better understand the historical and structural nature of injustices and devise effective strategies to address these issues.

Below, you'll find brief descriptions of some of the recent work GWS and SJ undergraduate and graduate students and alumni have undertaken. Check back each semester for updates!

Social Justice in the Eye of Crochet Heading link

A woman with shoulder-length brown hair, wearing a light pink face mask, glasses, brown sweater, black jeans, and white gym shoes stands next to a crochet art piece she created. The rectangular crochet piece consists of smaller crochet pieces that each display a justice related symbol or message (ex. disability justice, reproductive justice, trans pride flag, migrant justice, black power fist, equality symbol). She is holding her artist's statement. On the cover page, it states

GWS major and crochet artist Bri Saldana (2023) created “Social Justice in the Eye of Crochet” for her Honors Capstone Project. The piece consists of smaller crochet pieces that are symbolic of Bri’s time as a GWS student.

Artist Statement:

For my Honors Capstone Project, I took a creative approach to represent my time at UIC as a Gender & Women’s Studies major. While taking GWS and other courses, I have been taught the importance of art as activism in all sorts of movements like social and disability justice. Crochet is my form of expression, and I enjoy creating works that are visually appealing but also have sentiment, and these pieces all have their meaning as a whole and to myself. Crochet is creating a large piece out of many stitches and loops. I find this symbolic of a social movement requiring the collection of many participants’ voices and action.

As I near the end of my undergraduate in GWS, I have read and watched many materials that emphasize the importance of intersectionality in our lives. Intersectionality plays an important role in how I develop ideas and analyze materials. Approaching social justice with an intersectional framework ensures that all voices are heard and applied. My Capstone Project includes movements and messages that I believe to be representative of intersectionality.

I became inspired by the work of Audre Lorde who used her poetry and writing as civil rights activism and feminism. In addition, my Honors Fellow and Capstone Supervisor, Dr. Jennifer Rupert, emphasizes the significance of media, literature, and art in social change. Positive representations are necessary in activism as we cannot continue to let mass media depict social change as something fighting against our world rather than for. With this in mind, I chose several issues in our world that need more attention and positive representations.

PIC Talk Podcast Episode Heading link

Image for PIC Talk podcast. A prison cell with an open door shows a bed inside appears over a red circle. The top right and bottom left portions of the image are torn pages with words typed in black above a white background. In white text, 1.68 M are incarcerated in the U.S. appears at the top of the image. In the center in white text is PIC Prison Industrial Complex Talk with Lauren Hanna and Kayla Barnet. SJ 201 Final Project appears in white text in the bottom right corner.

Undergraduate students Lauren Hanna and Kayla Barnet created a podcast about the prison industrial complex (PIC) for their final project in SJ 201 Theories and Practices of Social Justice during the spring 2023 semester.

GWS' Influence Heading link

A woman hands a yellow flower to another woman

GWS’ influence grows through our incredibly dedicated students and alumni who are doing feminist work in so many ways. Use the links below to learn about the work of Gender & Women’s Studies and Social Justice student award winners and alumni.