In the College of Arts and Sciences .
The Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program (FGSS) is an interdisciplinary program that investigates how gender is embedded in cultural, social, and political formations. The study of feminism, gender relations, and sexuality urges attention to the complex structures of power and inequality, tracing intersections and relationships among sexuality, race, class, age, ethnicity, and nationality. Founded in 1972 as Women’s Studies, this program has been a home for innovative approaches to research in gender and sexuality studies, as well as a site for important theoretical and activist debates among feminists and cutting-edge research for scholars from across the humanities and social sciences.
The Feminist, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program’s course offerings are built around several assumptions about the study of gender and sexuality. First, understandings of sex, sexuality, and gender are neither universal nor immutable; to study them is to gain an understanding of human behavior, culture, and society across time and space as well as to gain a sense of how these social constructions shape us as individuals. Second, gender and sexuality are best understood when examined in relation to race, class, and nation, so as to reveal how social relations are structured by multiple ways of belonging. Third, even the most current knowledge derived from the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences is not impartial, objective, or neutral but instead emerges out of particular historical and political contexts. FGSS graduates are trained in critical thinking, analytic writing, and cultural competencies that enhance their lifelong personal and intellectual growth, as well as their professional development. Graduates of this program have gone on to work successfully in a wide variety of fields, including law, medicine, social policy, arts, international relations, psychology, and literature.
Joint faculty: Saida Hodžić (Anthropology), Jane Juffer (English), Kate McCullough (English), Lucinda Ramberg (Anthropology), Amy Villarejo (Performing and Media Arts)
Core faculty: Debra Castillo, Ileen DeVault, Shelley Feldman, Maria Fernandez, Joanne Fortune, Ellen Gainor, Durba Ghosh, Ellis Hanson, Cary Howie, Kathleen Long, Kathryn March, Mary Beth Norton, Judith Peraino, Masha Raskolnikov, Camille Robcis, Nick Salvato, Shirley Samuels, Suman Seth, Sara Warner, Rachel Weil, Dagmawi Woubshet
Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies (FGSS) offers an undergraduate major, an undergraduate minor, and a graduate minor. Undergraduate students in the College of Arts and Sciences who wish to major in FGSS may apply directly to the program. Undergraduate students in other colleges at Cornell will need to work out special arrangements and should speak to FGSS’s director of undergraduate studies (DUS).
The FGSS Undergraduate Major:
1. Prerequisite courses:
Before applying to the major, the student must complete any two FGSS courses with a grade of B– or better. For FGSS courses that are cross-listed with another department, students may register through FGSS or the cross-listing department. Suggested entry-level courses include any FGSS course at the 2000-level, especially FGSS 2010 which is required for completion of the major. FGSS courses at the 2000 level or above may count as both prerequisites and as part of the FGSS major. First-year writing seminars may count as prerequisites but not as part of the major.
a. A minimum of 36 credits (9 courses) in FGSS courses with a grade of C– or higher is required for the major:
Students may petition the DUS to count up to two 3-credit courses toward the FGSS major, thus reducing the minimum required credits for the major.
For FGSS courses that are cross-listed, students may register through FGSS or the cross-listing department.
b. These 36 credits must include the following three courses:
c. The 36 credits must also include at least one FGSS course with a significant focus on each of the following three categories:
(Note: Although a given course may satisfy one, two, or even three of these categories, a given student must take at least two courses to fulfill this requirement):
- lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) studies
- intersecting structures of oppression: race, ethnicity, and/or class (ISO)
- global perspectives: Africa, Asia, Latin America, or Middle East, by itself or in a comparative or transnational framework (GLO)
A student with a double major may count up to three FGSS courses toward the FGSS major that she/he is simultaneously counting toward a second major.
The Honors Program:
To graduate with honors, a student majoring in FGSS must complete a senior thesis under the supervision of an FGSS faculty member and defend that thesis orally before an honors committee. To be eligible, a student must have at least a cumulative 3.0 GPA in all course work and a 3.3 GPA in all courses applying to their FGSS major. Students enroll in FGSS 4990 - Senior Honors Thesis I and FGSS 4991 - Senior Honors Thesis II , the two-semester honors thesis course, which must be taken in addition to the courses that meet the minimum requirements for the major. Students receive a grade of “R” for the first semester’s work; once the honors thesis is completed that “R” will be changed to a letter grade. Students interested in the honors program should consult the DUS late in the spring semester of their junior year, or very early in the fall semester of their senior year.
The FGSS Undergraduate Minor:
Undergraduate students in any college at Cornell may minor in Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies in conjunction with a major defined elsewhere in the university. The minor consists of five FGSS courses with a grade of C– or higher, through FGSS or the cross-listing department that are completed with a grade of C– or above, none of which may be counted toward the student’s non–FGSS major. An exception to this rule may be made for students in the contract colleges, who may petition the FGSS DUS to count one course from their major toward the FGSS minor. First-year writing seminars may not be included within the five required courses. Students wishing to minor in FGSS should see the DUS.
The five courses required for the FGSS Undergraduate Minor must include:
The FGSS Graduate Minor:
The graduate minor invites graduate students interested in the study of women, gender, and sexuality to craft a personalized program of interdisciplinary study in areas such as feminist ideologies and cultures, institutions and societies, history, literatures and arts, psychology and human development, and biological sciences. The requirements vary according to the student’s need in shaping his or her own academic program. Students select a member of the Graduate Field in FGSS to serve on his/her special committee and register as an FGSS graduate minor in the FGSS office. Course requirements will vary. Upon completion of course objectives and graduate degree requirements, the student will be awarded a FGSS Graduate Minor Certificate.
The LGBT Studies Undergraduate Minor:
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender (LGBT) Studies Program, which offers an undergraduate minor as well as a graduate minor. The undergraduate minor consists of four courses. For a complete listing of all courses that will fulfill this minor please see the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Studies portion of this catalog.