This is the preliminary (or launch) version of the 2024-2025 VCU Bulletin. Courses that expose students to cutting-edge content and transformative learning may be added and notification of additional program approvals may be received prior to finalization. General education program content is also subject to change. The final edition and full PDF version will include these updates and will be available in August prior to the beginning of the fall semester.

Kathleen Ingram, J.D., Ph.D.
Associate professor and chair

Elizabeth CanfieldPh.D.
Associate professor, associate chair and graduate program director

Emily Humberson
Administrative coordinator

Mission statement
The Department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies is committed to social transformation. Members of the department produce and disseminate interdisciplinary feminist knowledge and theories, and view them as vitally connected to community engagement and activism. They critique the construction of differences as producing and reinforcing social, cultural, economic and political inequities, and understand gender and sexuality as inextricably bound to other forms of difference. The department began as a women’s studies program in 1989 and was granted departmental status in 2007. To more accurately reflect the intellectual project, in 2013, the department was renamed Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies. The department introduces students to new analytical, theoretical and creative frameworks to enable them to understand, critique and transform themselves and the world around them. Faculty members represent a wide variety of disciplines and engage students from diverse fields of study in research, teaching and public service.

Through teaching, activism, scholarly and creative production and community engagement, GSWS provides analytical and critical tools to equip students for careers in a broad range of fields and prepares them to engage in:

  • Individual and collective transformation
  • Critical thinking and writing
  • Research drawing from interdisciplinary methodologies
  • Political and community engagement and advocacy
  • Analyzing transnational and global networks (recognition of the ways that they are bound up in global networks of power)
  • Recognizing the complex interaction between multiple modes of difference
  • The production of creative work

The department offers a major leading to the Bachelor of Arts degree, an undergraduate minor and a post-graduate certificate. The department has particular strengths in race, racialization and antiracism studies; LGBTQ studies and queer theory; postcolonial/decolonial/anticolonial studies; health and health policies; and research and activism for social justice change in the academy and the broader community.

Vision statement
Students, faculty, and staff in the Department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies engage in activism, creative endeavors (productions) and traditional academic scholarship in order to strengthen connections with one another and the community and to work toward social justice and collective liberation.

Departmental values

  1. As faculty and staff who center consent and collaboration as guiding principles, members practice consensus-based decision-making processes in meetings with one another and emphasize collaboration in classrooms, on campus and within communities (community-based activism).
  2. GSWS seeks to generate individual, interpersonal and structural transformations that recognize, in the words of Audre Lorde, “that there are no single-issue struggles because there are no single-issue lives.” This commitment drives how GSWS shapes their curriculum, classes, scholarship, creative work and departmental activity.
  3. The department stands in full support of their students’ and our colleagues’ scholarly, creative and activist pursuits, and structures  classes to attend to diverse and inclusive learning practices, forms of creative expression and activist pursuits. This interdisciplinary work is viewed as academically rigorous and creatively rich, and as enabling fresh insights into pressing topics.
  4. Because of a belief in transparency and dialogue, the department designs their curricula and assessment in direct conversation with students.