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GWS 50th Anniversary Celebration: Feminist Futures

Preparations to celebrate GWS's 50th Anniversary began in Fall 2021. We intended to host a celebration in February 2022, which would have been 50 years since the 1972 Susan B. Anthony Women's Liberation Teach-In on the then Circle Campus. That teach-in led to the founding of the Circle Women’s Liberation Union and eventually the Women's Studies Program at UIC. The COVID-19 pandemic upended those initial plans. In Fall 2022, when many of us tentatively began returning to campus, we resumed our planning with a renewed commitment to community, connection, and care.

The GWS Program Committee decided to host a daylong celebration, called Feminist Futures, to honor the program’s history, celebrate its many accomplishments, and reflect on GWS’ continued importance and relevance. On March 9, 2023, almost 100 people gathered in person at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum and UIC Student Center East, with additional attendees joining via Zoom.

Check out these three videos, created by Tom Callahan of Sensitive Visuals, for a recap of the day.

Activist Scholarship Heading link

GWS as Life-affirming and Life-changing Heading link

Care and Building Feminist Futures Heading link

Feminist Futures Photo Essay Heading link

Morning Dialogue: Bodily Autonomy, Care, and Environmental Justice Heading link

Three panelists sit behind a table draped in a black tablecloth, with small bottles of water perched on top.

In line with our feminist values, the centerpiece of the event was a series of intergenerational dialogues among GWS students, alum, faculty, and emeritae professors.

The topic of the morning dialogue was Bodily Autonomy, Care, and Environmental Justice. Participants included: Dez Brown, Gender and Women’s Studies Graduate Student and Instructor; Nadia Sol Ireri Unzueta Carrasco, GWS Alum, Dr. Nadine Naber, Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and Global Asian Studies; Rev. RJ Robles, GWS Alum; and Dr. Cindy Tekobbe, Assistant Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and Communication. Judith Gardiner, Gender and Women’s Studies Co-founder and Emerita Professor, and Ariella R. Rotramel, GWS Alum, moderated the morning dialogue.

Discussion on Feminist Care Heading link

A panelist with shoulder-length black hear, wearing a gray sweater and black KN95 face mask, sits behind a table draped in a black tablecloth. Above and to the right of the table, a panelist participating via Zoom is projected on a screen. Small bottles of water, papers, and a microphone are on the table. Three empty wooden chars are behind and to the right side of the table.

Over lunch, attendees enjoyed a conversation on feminist care between Dr. Akemi Nishida, Assistant Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and Disability Studies, and Dr. Elena Gutiérrez, Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and Latin American and Latino Studies. Dr. Nishida’s recently published book, Just Care: Messy Entanglements of Disability, Dependency, and Desire, provided a starting point for this discussion that reflected on how we can imbue our relationships, classrooms, research, and movements with feminist care.

Afternoon Dialogue: Abolition, War, and Violence Heading link

Two panelists sit behind a table draped in a black tablecloth. One panelist, a woman with long straight black hair wearing a face mask, motions to the panelist to her left, a man wearing glasses and a face mask and reaching for a microphone atop the table..

The topic of the afternoon dialogue was Abolition, War, and Violence. Panelists included: Dr. Ronak K. Kapadia, Associate Professor and Director of the Interdepartmental Graduate Concentration in Gender and Women’s Studies; Ren Encinas, GWS Alum, Liliana Macias, GWS Graduate Student; and Dr. Terrion Williamson, Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and Black Studies. Margaret (Peg) Strobel, Gender and Women’s Studies Co-founder and Emerita Professor, and Dr. Jen Ash, Gender and Women’s Studies Alum and Instructor, moderated the afternoon dialogue.

Celebrating and Connecting Heading link

Two women set out button making supplies, coloring books, and colored pencils on a table.

Throughout the day, attendees made GWS buttons; colored in the GWS Feminist Futures activity book, created by GWS Graduate Assistant Leeann Ream; and took self-guided tours of the Hull-House Museum.

Artists Liz Born and Gabe Hoare of Hoofprint Workshop helped guests screenprint posters and tote bags, using a beautiful design created by GWS Alum Monica Trinidad to honor the 50th Anniversary.

We also raffled off books written by GWS faculty and alum, with donations going to the GWS Basic Needs Fund that will be available to students in Fall 2023.

We closed out the day with a reception in the East Terrace Room in Student Center East (SCE), located next door to the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum. Guests caught up with old friends, made new connections, shared in-person and pre-recorded toasts to GWS, ate birthday cake, and enjoyed a GWS playlist compiled by Drs. Anna Guevarra and Gayatri Reddy with song contributions from GWS core and affiliated faculty members.