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Women’s and gender studies minor program expands, offers new course

Women’s and gender studies minor program expands, offers new course - The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Many women wore the pink knitted "pussycat hats" that were seen during the women's rights protest against president Donald Trump on Jan. 21, 2017. Mesquite File Art

Coordinated by two faculty members in the history and philosophy programs, the Women’s and Gender Studies minor is growing each semester — with 10 students enrolled this fall and a new course being offered. 

“I really believe in this program,” said Dr. Philis Barragán Goetz, co-coordinator and assistant professor of history. “Ultimately our goal is for it to become a major.”

The program originated as Women’s Studies at Texas A&M University-San Antonio in 2010, said Amy Porter, early program coordinator. However, in fall 2015, paperwork was filed to change the name to Women’s and Gender Studies. 

The program is interdisciplinary and the required courses spanning five different majors. Because of this, the curriculum covers a variety of topics including femininity and masculinity, sexuality, history of women’s studies and society.

“It’s not just history or just English,” Barragán Goetz said. “It draws from multiple disciplines, and it uses a lens of gender within those disciplines.”

The newest addition to the Women’s and Gender Studies program is WGST 2301, Introduction to Women’s & Gender Studies, taught by Dr. Merritt Rehn-Debraal, co-coordinator and lecturer in philosophy . This course counts towards the core curriculum so students can register for it even if they are not enrolled in the minor. 

“The course gives students an introduction and some foundational knowledge like terminology, concepts and methods,” Rehn-Debraal said. “So that if they want to continue on in women’s and gender studies, they have that common language.”

Psychology senior Taryn Deppe minored in women’s and gender studies. Although Deppe’s major didn’t require her to take a minor, she said she is glad she did. Deppe said that the program allowed her to make connections with faculty and gain a mentor. 

“Academically, picking up that minor was the best decision I’ve ever made,” Deppe said.

Despite the Women’s and Gender Studies program being classified under the College of Arts and Sciences, it encompasses material that relates to any major. 

“Regardless of what field you’re in, it’s important to have an understanding of different people and their backgrounds,” Rehn-Debraal said. “The minor allows students to express their cultural competency to future employers.”

Deppe, who completed her hours for the minor in the summer, said that the Women’s and Gender Studies program is the most customizable experience on campus.

“The program is unique and allows every person to tailor it to their own interests,” Deppe said. “I put 150% into it and got double that out of it.” 

Deppe will graduate in the spring of 2021 and plans to pursue a career in higher education. 

“My minor… has allowed me to explore a range of perspectives,” Deppe said. “My courses (in the minor) add additional sensitivity and compassion to the approach I plan to take when working with students in the future.”

Barragán and Rehn-Debraal hope to expand the program even more. They’re working to find existing courses that contribute to the minor and develop new ones. 

In the spring, the Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies course still has spots available. For more information, contact Barragán Goetz at philis.barragan@tamusa.edu or Rehn-Debraal at mdebraal@tamusa.edu, or find the program on Facebook.

About the Author

Asiah Mendoza
Asiah Mendoza
Asiah Mendoza is a communications junior with a minor in psychology. Born and raised in San Antonio, she enjoys writing in and listening to music in her free time. Her favorite things to do are go to concerts and discover new artists. After graduation, she hopes to combine her two interests and become a music journalist.

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