College of Arts and Sciences

Women's Studies Program

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What Is Women's Studies?

Women’s studies emerged as a field of study in the 1970s, just on the heels of the burgeoning women’s movement. Among its aims, it hoped to redress the gap in scholarship and teaching about women’s lives, experiences, and perspectives. The assumption—both then and now—is that the larger social, economic, and cultural inequities women face require a distinctly feminist and interdisciplinary approach to problem-solving. Over the decades, the field has evolved to include a broad examination of the impact of gender on our lives, as well as the intersections between gender and other categories of identity, including race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, nationality, and so on. Throughout its evolution, three characteristics of women’s studies have remained consistent: its focus on interdisciplinarity, its commitment to advancing social justice through knowledge and learning, and its belief in the transformational power of feminist education.

Women's Studies at Purdue Fort Wayne

Purdue Fort Wayne offers a B.A., certificate, and minor in women’s studies, as well as a range of courses that meet college distribution and general education requirements. We are especially proud of the fact that our campus was the first public university in Indiana to offer a Bachelor of Arts degree with a women’s studies major. Today, the Women’s Studies Program is one of the most unique areas of study at Purdue University Fort Wayne. 

Learning Women’s Studies

Emphasizing an interdisciplinary approach to learning, the Women’s Studies Program brings together the expertise of faculty from a broad range of traditional academic disciplines, including biology, English, music, and psychology, to name just a few. This approach reflects the core principle behind interdisciplinary studies: namely, that the problems and potential of society are best understood through study, dialogue, and research that draws upon and integrates multiple disciplinary perspectives and expertise. Just as important, the Women’s Studies Program offers small classes that emphasize a student-centered approach to learning, one that recognizes the value of self-exploration, collective investigation, community dialogue, and feminist methods of research.

Given all of this, it’s not surprising that many students find their women’s studies educations transformative. Indeed, women’ studies can open the door to new perspectives on both women and the world.


Living Women’s Studies

A women’s studies degree has all the practical applications of a traditional degree, if not more. Students in our courses have the opportunity to strengthen their critical thinking, speaking, writing, and research skills—which are all cornerstones of successful career preparation. They study the large issues that are of increasing importance to employers, from diversity and globalization to conflict resolution and problem-solving. Reflecting this versatility and expertise, Purdue Fort Wayne graduates in women’s studies have gone on to successful careers in law, education, human services, business, government, and non-profit organizations serving community needs and solving the problems of the 21st Century. They demonstrate firsthand that meaningful social transformation can come about only through the combination of knowledge, thought, and action.

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