What a journey this year has been! It has been my pleasure getting to know the faculty, faculty associates, staff, students, alumni and “friends” of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies this year. I am surrounded by enthusiastic and energized people and it is an honor to work with all of them (all of you!).
Unfortunately, it is with deep sorrow that I share with you that we have lost one of our great faculty adjuncts, Dr. Ruth Kershner, to a sudden illness on July 10. She was an amazing person who was always so full of life and energy. She was a tremendous educator and advocate for women and girls. We are each better for having known her and we will miss her immensely.
On a more positive note, this past year has seen a steady growth in our number of majors, minors, and graduate certificate students and we anticipate seeing this trend continue as we implement additional recruitment strategies. Also, with the hard work of faculty member, Brian Jara, we will now be able to offer a WGST minor completely online beginning this summer. We are also very close to being able to offer an LGBTQ minor to students.
We reinstated the Fireside Chats this year. I hope you have received invitations for the event that is held at Elizabeth Moore hall. The presentations have been well received and generate lively discussions. If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll be able to attend one soon.
Also of note, we are currently anticipating two big anniversaries: 2015 will mark the 35th anniversary of the creating of the Center (thanks to Judith Stitzel!) and 2016 will mark the 125th anniversary of the first woman, Harriet B. Lyon, to graduate from WVUand at the head of her class! We are considering various ways to celebrate these events with an academic/scholarship focus. If you have suggestions, please contact us to share your ideas.
We have moved! Again! You can now find us on the 2nd floor of Knapp Hall for the next few years until the renovations on a building closer to the heart of the downtown campus are completed.
To our seniors and graduate students who graduated this springCongratulations!
We wish you all the very best success in all of your future endeavors!
Best regards to all of you,
Jennifer E. Orlikoff
The Center for Women’s & Gender Studies has a new home! As of May 19 our new location is on the second floor of Knapp Hall. This too is temporary but we have settled in and expect to be here for a year or two.
The new address is 209 Knapp Hall, PO Box 6450, Morgantown, WV 26506-6450. The phone numbers remain the same.
Please feel free to stop by and visit us in our new location.
Despite a 33 hour journey to a strange country, swollen ankles, tiredness and jetlag, Samantha Moretz (BA, Women’s & Gender Studies 2013) arrived in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in May 2013 with high hopes for her study abroad experience. The next day, and during her month in Vietnam and Cambodia, Samantha wrote a daily journal detailing her experiences and exploring her reactions to them using her women’s and gender studies background.
Highlights of the first few days included visiting Buddhist and Hindu temples, an introduction to a group of street children, and a visit to the War Remnants Museum. The temples were very different in architecture and practice from the churches and cathedrals Samantha was familiar with, but she recognized the same level of reverence in them and regretted not knowing more about their religions.
The street children were a surprise. “They face incredible challenges on a daily basis that I can scarcely imagine, but remain optimistic and friendly to outsiders,” she writes. Through talking to some of these children, she discovered that one identified herself as a transgender woman and her friend as a gay male. Talking afterwards to the leader of the Cay Mai Project, she learned of their mutual interest in the LGBT community and found her commitment to working in this area reinforced. She discovered that homosexuality is a sensitive topic in Vietnam and explored national attitudes in a paper on the subject (https://www.dropbox.com/s/ef8e35e01j2a91i/Homosexuality%20in%20Vietnam_Moretz.docx).
The War Remnants Museum introduced a starkly different perspective on the Vietnam War than the one taught in the U.S.A. For Samantha “having more than one perspective on any issue is imperative, and this experience only strengthened that belief.”
Then it was time to leave Ho Chi Minh City and very soon Samantha noticed signs of poverty and began to wish that she had learned more Vietnamese before leaving the U.S. The language barrier made communication difficult in the community and in the classroom. However, she had the opportunity to be part of a traditional Vietnamese wedding and, after learning that the more different dresses the bride wore during the reception, the more wealthy the family, she began, in her own words, to see the “familiar hidden in the strange,” since many American weddings also seem to flaunt wealth.
During a visit to an orphanage theory met reality for her as she was reminded of a Women’s Studies class about the harmful effects of orphanage tourism. Then it was time for a day off. The highlight of the day was a game of pick-up soccer which Samantha and roommate, Kelsey, played with some street kids (Samantha on left in picture).
In Cambodia the focus was on the sex trade and, through the Cambodian Women’s Development Association, the group had the opportunity to talk to former sex workers. These women are peer educators working to end sexual slavery and they spoke of the problems facing young women with little education who are responsible for supporting their entire family. Poverty, violence, illiteracy and lack of resources combine to make their task huge. (Pictured here with Samantha is one of the former sex workers she interviewed.
Two days touring Angkor Watt were the climax to the Cambodian part of the trip. “I knew by the first temple that I was in love!” writes Samantha. “I was so amazed by the entirety of this experience. The sheer fact that we were able to walk on something created so long ago lit such a feeling of awe in me.”
And how would she sum up the whole experience?
“Vietnam and Cambodia supplemented my Women’s and Gender studies education in ways that I had not originally anticipated. It allowed me a minor sort of insight into the widespread oppression, poverty, and prejudice of the Vietnamese people who are forced to live with it. It introduced me to the sort of education that cannot be found in any book, classroom, or lecture. I will forever be grateful to the wonderful people I met that felt comfortable enough to share their journey with me, past present and future.”
The 5th Women’s and Gender Studies Fair
Thursday, April 10, 2014
First held in April 2012, the Women’s and Gender Studies Fair has become a semi-annual tradition at the end of every fall and spring semester. The 5th Fair took place on April 10 in the Mountainlair Ballrooms. We have retained the title of “Cells, Condoms, Corsets and Blowup Dolls” as a way to attract people who wouldn’t necessarily already be interested in attending a “feminist” or “women’s studies” event. Each semester the Fair features the latest issues in today’s culture and academia. This semester’s topics range from transnational perspectives on gender violence, gender and bulling, gender and health, and gender and popular culture.
Students enrolled in women’s and gender studies coursesincluding the introductory course, men and masculinities, and feminist theorieshave worked to create engaging and informative projects which range from posters to exhibits to video public service announcements.
Brian R. Jara, senior lecturer in women’s and gender studies, coordinated the event along with this year’s GTAs in the Center. Another noteworthy change at the Fair this year was the result of a University Information Literacy Course Enhancement Grant that Brian Jara received; the grant paired him with Women’s and Gender Studies Librarian Carroll Wilkinson to spend this past academic year creating tools and lessons designed to help develop students’ information literacy skills..“The fair is a chance to help educate the WVU and surrounding community about the many ways in which women’s and gender studies affects all of our daily lives,” Jara said. “When you see the wide range of topics you cannot deny that women’s and gender studies, and feminism in particular, are timely, relevant and vitally important.”
Students in the Men and Masculinities course developed an interactive project called #MapYourMistreatment that invited fair attendees to place a pushpin on a map of campus and Morgantown where they’ve experienced any form of stalking, harassment or other form of violence; the class is working on developing a virtual version using Google maps.
“The Fair provides students with a legacy project that presenting students can use to demonstrate a unique and important skill set to prospective employers or graduate schools,” says GTA Hannah Liebreich.
The 6th Women’s and Gender Studies Fair will take place in mid-November. More information will be forthcoming. We hope you’ll stop by!
Benjamin Seebaugh was recognized as the Outstanding Senior in Women’s & Gender Studies at the Honors and Awards Ceremony held on Saturday, April 12. He spoke about his experiences growing up in West Virginia, coming to WVU and his hopes for the future. Here is a summary of those remarks.Growing up in Parkersburg, WV, Benjamin did not have a happy experience in high school. His interests were not the same as the majority of his peers and he was frustrated by his inability to make a difference in a conservative environment. He never wanted to come to WVU but a Promise Scholarship beckoned and he reluctantly made the move to Morgantown for his freshman year.
Once at WVU, Benjamin found that he was no longer a lone voice and that there were people who shared his outlook on life and listened to his opinions. He also became aware of Women’s & Gender Studies. First a meeting with Brian Jara, Senior Lecturer in Women’s & Gender Studies, persuaded him to add a minor in that discipline to his double major in Political Science and International Studies. “He pointed out that I already had some of the prerequisites for the minor and that I could easily handle it in a semester,” said Benjamin. “After that it was ‘Only a couple more classes and you’ll have a major,’ and gradually I became more and more involved.”
Benjamin has found his work in Women’s & Gender Studies to be empowering. “This is an outstanding group of scholars, leaders, and changemakers,” he said. “I have had the honor and privilege to work with the WGST faculty and to help with the creation of the LGBTQ minor.”
“As I look to graduation, I’ve begun considering how to implement WGST. I’ve learned that you should speak your mind and be involved. Change takes time and participation.”
It should be added that in addition to his work with the Center for Women’s & Gender Studies, Benjamin also served as President of the Student Government Association for the 2013-14 academic year.
What a journey this year has been! It has been my pleasure getting to know the faculty, faculty associates, staff, students, alumni and friends of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies this year. I am surrounded by enthusiastic and energized people and it is an honor to work with all of them (all of you!).
This past year has seen a steady growth in our number of majors, minors, and graduate certificate students and we anticipate seeing this trend continue as we implement additional recruitment strategies. With the hard work of faculty member, Brian Jara, we will now be able to offer a WGST minor completely online beginning this summer. We are also very close to being able to offer an LGBTQ minor to students.
We reinstated the Fireside Chats this year. I hope you have received invitations for the event that is held at Elizabeth Moore Hall. The presentations have been well received and generate lively discussions. If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll be able to attend one soon.
Also of note, we are currently anticipating two big anniversaries: 2015 will mark the 35th anniversary of the creating of the Center (thanks to Judith Stitzel!) and 2016 will mark the 125th anniversary of the first woman, Harriet E. Lyon, to graduate from WVU – and at the head of her class! We are considering various ways to celebrate these events with an academic/scholarship focus. If you have suggestions, please contact us to share your ideas.
As you have seen elsewhere in this newsletter, the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies is once again moving, this time back onto campus. Beginning in mid- to late-May, we will be on the 2nd floor of Knapp Hall on an interim basis until the renovations on a building closer to the heart of the downtown campus are completed.
The end of an academic year is always bittersweet. On the one hand, we are looking forward to the slower summer months to re-energize after the end-of-semester frenzy, and on the other hand, we have to say good-bye to our current group of graduating seniors and graduating graduates. They have been great! Although we’re sad to see them leave our nest, we wish them all the very best success in all of their future endeavors!
Best regards to all of you,
Jennifer E. Orlikoff
The first order of business was to recognize undergraduate students who have completed their degree requirements and to present Women’s & Gender Studies stoles to those present.
The Center for Women’s & Gender Studies will be leaving the temporary offices it has called home for the past seventeen months. We will be moving at the end of May or beginning of June. If you are free and would be willing to give a few hours of your time to help over the move, you would be welcomed with open arms!
Please check our website for current information on the date of the move.
Our new location will be at 209 Knapp Hall.
The West Virginia University Center for Women’s and Gender Studies welcomed 71 new female faculty members to the academic community Sept. 16, during its 33rd annual potluck dinner.
West Virginia Delegate Barbara Evans Fleischauer, D-Monongalia, and a long-standing supporter of the Center, hosted the dinner at her home.
The dinner serves as an opportunity to introduce newer female faculty to those who’ve been with the University for some time. Judith Stitzel, the founding director of the Center was in attendance as were Dean Robert H. Jones and associate deans, Joan Gorham and Valerie Lastinger, of the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, and WVU Associate Vice President Nigel Clark.
“It’s a good way for the new faculty members to network, to meet faculty members in other disciplines and to learn about some of the organizations that are available to them at WVU,” said Jennifer Orlikoff, interim director of the Center of Women’s and Gender Studies.
By Ann Oberhauser
Welcome to the first online newsletter from the WVU Center for Women’s and Gender Studies. In keeping with today’s digital revolution, we are switching to a new format that is more versatile and accessible for many of our readers throughout the country and the world. We have also developed a WGST Blog to keep you informed about upcoming events, activities, and feature stories with updates from our students, alumni, and faculty.
This has been an unusually busy and productive year at the Center. You can read about some of these events in this newsletter, but let me share a few highlights with you. The newly-named Women’s and Gender Studies Program has attracted more students to our courses and increased our majors, minors, and graduate certificate students. We have also been working to restructure and expand the curriculum with areas of emphasis for our undergraduates and a new LGBTQ minor this fall. Research in the STEM initiative is moving ahead in line with the university’s strategic plan in this field. In addition, several students and faculty in the program are working with women’s organizations at the state and national levels on a project that focuses on the status of women and girls in West Virginia.
Finally, this is my last year as director of the Center. I have enjoyed the challenges and great community that make up this program over the past four years, but am looking forward to spending more time on my research and teaching in the Geography Program. Dr. Jennifer Orlikoff from the Department of World Languages, Literature, and Linguistics will be Interim Director starting this summer. Under her leadership and with the Program’s excellent faculty, students, and staff, we can look forward to continued growth and change at the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies at WVU.
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