Gender Equity, Social Institutions, and Public Affairs Minor

Overview for Gender Equity, Social Institutions, and Public Affairs Minor

The gender equity, social institutions, and public affairs minor is an interdisciplinary course of study that equips you with the ability to view the social domain of public affairs, institutions, practices, and policies through a gendered lens and prepares you for future potential roles as advocates and leaders in the struggle toward gender equity and social justice.

This minor explores the influence of gender in its intersection with sexuality, ethnicity, nationality, race, class, and disability within the social, institutional, and policy environment. You will learn to analyze domains of power within the economic, political, and social structures (including the family); identify gender inequities and inequalities; evaluate and implement theories, methods, and practices for challenging gendered discrimination; and learn leadership and communicative strategies to increase inclusiveness and social justice, and to improve lives and well-being at the individual and collective levels.

As gender is such a pervasive dimension of public life and policies, the minor is beneficial to students in all professions and especially those interested in promoting gender justice in the fields of sustainability and development, industry and transportation, economics and finances, human rights, the legal and judicial systems, health, international peace and security, and urban, environmental, and energy policies.

Notes about this minor:

  • This minor is closed to students majoring in women's, gender, and sexuality studies and those pursuing a minor in women's and gender studies.
  • Posting of the minor on the student's academic transcript requires a minimum GPA of 2.0 in the minor.
  • Notations may appear in the curriculum chart below outlining pre-requisites, co-requisites, and other curriculum requirements (see footnotes).

The plan code for Gender Equity, Social Institutions, and Public Affairs Minor is GESIPA-MN.

Curriculum for 2023-2024 for Gender Equity, Social Institutions, and Public Affairs Minor

Current Students: See Curriculum Requirements

Group A
Choose one of the following:
   Foundations Of Women And Gender Studies
Women’s and Gender Studies is the academic manifestation of feminism. This interdisciplinary course interrogates the social constructions, political systems, and historical rhetorics that have produced and maintain hegemonic power structures. In this course you will examine key feminist, queer, and critical race writings and discourses, study the rise of feminist thought, and consider the history of women’s activism and the women’s rights movements from Suffrage to the present day. The course will also consider the application of feminist theory made visible through the rise of new and intersectional social identity movements. Lecture 3 (Fall).
   Feminist Practices of Inquiry
This course aims at introducing students to the diverse ways in which feminist and gender studies practitioners (scholars, writers, artists, and activists) have critically analyzed, challenged, and creatively reinvented predominant methods, models, and practices of knowledge production in various areas of the natural and social sciences, the medical arts, the humanities, and the visual and performing arts. Questions to be considered include: What constitutes feminist practices of inquiry? How do feminist research practices approach issues of objectivity and subjectivity? How does one formulate a feminist question? What key questions guide feminist researchers and how can we apply those questions to a variety of research topics? How do feminist practices of inquiry intersect with race, class, gender, ethnicity, nationality, sexualities, identity-formation processes, (dis)abilities, age? How do feminist research practices produce transformations, emancipation, and increased fairness of representation? Lecture 3 (Spring).
   Introduction to LGBTQ+ Studies
This introductory course examines a broad range of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer issues within the historical, psychological, racial, theological, cultural, and legal contexts in which we live. Students will learn the historical and theoretical foundations of LGBTQ+ studies as well as the contemporary implications for family, work, religion, and law for LGBTQ+ people and the mainstream society. Students will have the opportunity to compare the regulation of sexual orientation across different gender, racial, and socioeconomic communities. Lecture 3 (Fall).
Group B
Choose three of the following:
   Gender and Health
This course examines connections between gender and health that are both conceptual and empirical. Students will explore the causes of gender-based differences in health outcomes through case studies of sexual and reproductive rights, HIV/AIDS epidemics and violence. Students will also examine global gender and health trends. The course concludes with an examination of gender inequity in health care and policy implications of these inequities. Lecture 3 (Annual).
   Men, Males, and Masculinities
Who and what defines a man? What challenges might the process of manhood present? How does one’s masculine expression align or not align with family or societal definitions? How are men harmed by unattainable ideas of manhood? What advantages and privileges come along with embodying maleness? What impacts does masculinity have on men’s relationships (with women, with other men, as fathers, as sons)? What does it mean to be a man of color, a working-class man or a gay man? Is masculinity innately violent or aggressive? This course uses a critical approach to examine individual, institutional, and societal understandings of what it means in general to be a man. It explores models of masculinity in conjunction with analyses of race, class, disability, and sexuality. It analyzes the common and diverse experiences of how some human beings are socialized and/or choose to express their masculinity in healthy, unique, hegemonic and sometimes problematic ways. It probes how some models of (toxic or hegemonic) masculinity promote hierarchies of power and privilege in groups, organizations, and institutions. And it investigates ways in which toxic forms of masculinity can be broken down and rewritten to work toward a healthier, more just (and less oppressive) society for all. Lecture 3 (Fall).
   Women, Work, and Culture
In this course, we analyze historical and contemporary patterns of gender, race/ethnicity, sexuality, and the organization of work. Using the theoretical perspectives we analyze the work historically undertaken by women in societies and its relationship to broader political and economic structures. While our primary focus is on the U.S., we will also conduct a cross-cultural analysis of gender and work in developing and industrializing societies. Specific issues include gender discrimination (e.g., wage discrimination, sexual harassment), sexuality, reproduction, and women organizing to control their work and working conditions. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
   Prostitution and Vice
This course will examine prostitution and vice in the United States and globally. Through empirical scholarship, various issues will be examined including issues faced by sex workers including crime, victimization, health and safety, and law and policy issues. Quality of life issues for communities will also be examined. (Prerequisites: CRIM-110 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
   Domestic Violence
This course focuses on domestic violence in the United States and globally. Various types of domestic violence will be examined, including intimate partner violence, child abuse, and elder abuse. The course will also examine criminal justice responses to domestic violence, including police, court processing of domestic violence cases and punishment of domestic violence offenders. Lecture 3 (Fall).
   Seminar on Sexual Violence
This course focuses on sexual violence in the United States and globally. Various types of sexual violence will be examined, including incest, elder abuse, and male victimization. The course will also examine criminal justice responses to sexual violence, including police, court processing of sexual violence cases and punishment and treatment of sexual offenders. (Prerequisites: CRIM-110 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
   Women and Crime
This course deals with women as criminal offenders and as victims of crime, focusing upon theories about women in crime, types of crimes committed, patterns of criminality and the treatment of women offenders. Also examines the role of women as law enforcement officers, judges, lawyers and correctional officers in the criminal justice system. (Prerequisites: CRIM-110 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
   American Women's and Gender History
This course surveys women’s history in the United States from the colonial period to present. The course moves chronologically and thematically, focusing on the diversity of women’s experiences across race, class, and geography as well as the construction of dominant gender norms. Topics include Native American, African American, and Euro-American women in colonial America; the Industrial Revolution and the ideology of domesticity, Women in the American West; women’s paid and unpaid work; sexuality and reproduction; women’s activism; and women’s experiences of immigration and family life. Lecture 3 (Fall).
   Philosophies of Love,Sex, and Gender
Love is indeed one of the most central concerns in everyone’s life; yet, we spend very little time thinking conceptually about love in its various forms, aspects, implications, nuances, benefits, detriments, and harms. In this course, we will examine views from classical, medieval, modern, and contemporary thinkers on various kinds of love, including some controversial versions of it; we will consider the relation of love in its various forms to desire, emotions, physical intimacy, seduction, sex, sexuality, sexual orientation, and the construction of personal identity; and we will analyze how the various forms of love affect and are affected by gender norms, roles, and images. Lecture 3 .
   Performing Identity in Popular Media
This class is a critical, theoretical, and practical examination of the constitution and performance of personal identity within popular media as it relates to identity politics in everyday life. Through lectures, readings, film, and critical writing, students will examine elements of personal identity and diversity in popular media in order to foster a deeper understanding of how identity is constructed and performed in society. Lecture 3 (Fall).
   Women and the Deaf Community
Deaf history, as a field, has often neglected the story of deaf women. Scholar Arlene B. Kelly has recently asked, Where is deaf herstory? This course seeks to correct that gender imbalance in deaf history. We will study deaf women's history. This will include a consideration of deaf-blind women, as well, as women like Helen Keller were often the most famous deaf women of their era. But this course also seeks to look at the role of hearing women in deaf history. Hearing women dominated the field of deaf education in the late nineteenth century. They had a tremendous impact on the lives of deaf children and the events of deaf educational history. Hearing women were also important figures in deaf history as mothers. As mothers of deaf children, hearing women were frequently asked to behave as teachers in the home. Their embrace of this role often led them to endorse oral education, and oppose the sign language. Hearing mothers in this way were pitted against their adult deaf daughters, who frequently went on to learn sign language against their mothers' wishes. The historically complex relationship between women and the deaf community will be explored in this course. Lecture 3 (Fall).
   Queering Gender
This course begins with the concept that sexuality, gender and gender identity is neither fixed nor innate. Many people who adopt a definition or expression of gender different from society often identify themselves as queer. The study of this movement is referred to as queer theory. This course examines the concepts of sex, gender, and gender expression of straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people of all ages, races, and socioeconomic classes within the context of the larger society in which we live. Students will explore the unique political, legal, and interpersonal challenges faced by those embracing queer identity as well as the diversity of gender identities and expressions. Lecture 3 (Spring).
   Collaborative Learning Seminar
This small-group, discussion-oriented, intensive-writing seminar examines some area of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (chosen by the instructor, announced in the course subtitle, and developed in the syllabus). The seminar is based on collaborative learning, discussions, and various forms of formal and informal writing understood as an integral part of the critical exploration of WGSS-related topics. (Prerequisites: Must have completed at least 2 WGST courses (core or co-listed) or equivalent courses.) Seminar 3 (Spring).
   Topics in Women's and Gender Studies
This variable topic course examines one or more themes, figures, movements, critical questions or issues in the areas of women's and gender studies. The topic for the course is chosen by the instructor, announced in the course subtitle, and developed in the syllabus. Topics in WGST can be taken multiple times provided the topic(s) being studied has changed. Lecture 3 (Spring).
   Economics of Women and the Family
Women make choices concerning marriage, fertility and labor market participation on the basis of many factors, including government policies targeting those decisions. This course uses economic theory and empirical research in order to describe the changing demographic profile of families, poverty, and the labor force and to explore how economic theory and practice fit into the larger social science goals of describing human behavior by focusing on women and on the family. Lecture 3 (Fall).
   Topics in LGBTQ+ Studies*
This variable topic course examines one or more themes, figures, movements, critical questions or issues in the areas of LGBTQ+ studies. The topic for the course is chosen by the instructor, announced in the course subtitle, and developed in the syllabus. Topics in LGBTQ+ Studies can be taken multiple times provided the topic being studied has changed. Lecture 3 (Spring).
   Women in Politics
A study of feminist thought as it applies to the political, economic and social status of women and how it has been expressed through the women's political movement. Students study a number of public policies as they apply to and affect women and examine the opportunities for women to participate in the political process. Lecture 3 (Spring).
Group C
Choose one of the following:
   Communication for Social Change
The course introduces students to the role of communication, information, and media in social change messaging, particularly in the areas of activism and public advocacy. It takes a critical approach toward understanding the role of communication and communication technologies in the creation and dissemination of messages geared towards social change in a variety of mediated contexts. Students will review relevant theoretical frameworks that commonly inform the study and practice of activism and public advocacy, as well as analyze specific examples and case studies contemporarily, as well as select examples at moments of profound activism since the Civil Rights era of the 20th Century. Students will analyze various forms of activism and examine the role of communication in each. Finally, through the design of a social change communication campaign proposal, students will apply strategic communication approaches that will respond to a social issue that may be local, national or global. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
   Inclusive Leadership
Being a successful community leader requires the ability to understand and respond effectively to organizational context. This course provides a comprehensive understanding of organizations with emphasis on various approaches to organizational development. Specific focus will be placed on the workplace structure in educational, government, non-profit, and entrepreneurial environments. Finally, students will learn about methods that organizations use for accessibility and learn about organizational racial justice and disability justice. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
   Introduction to Group Advocacy
The course is designed to assist students in understanding and implementing ways in which they can advocate for deaf and hard-of-hearing persons in their communities. Concepts of leadership and group advocacy models and issues relevant to deaf and hard-of-hearing communities will be covered. Students will explore community development and practical applications pertaining to group and systemic advocacy frameworks. Students will examine international and national policies and their effectiveness in supporting deaf and hard-of-hearing communities. (Prerequisite: LEAD-200 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
   Foundations of Public Policy
This interdisciplinary course introduces the student to the key concepts of public policy, the policymaking process, the role of stakeholders and interest groups, and the basic dimensions policy analysis. Those concepts are then applied through a range of issues, such as the environment, clean energy, climate change, healthcare, cybersecurity, employment, privacy, telecommunications, and innovation, at local, state, federal and international levels. Lecture 3 (Fall).
   Foundations of Engagement and Community Transformation
Are you passionate about addressing the socially-complex, wicked problems of our time? This interdisciplinary, active-learning course will lay the groundwork for students who want to participate in future place-based community-engaged research, development or design projects that build on community strengths and address community determined challenges. Through literature reviews, discussions, cases study analysis, role plays, debates, reflective writing, and visits with experienced community practitioners, we will explore the larger context of the systems within which we live and how others have engaged in efforts to improve community wellbeing both locally and globally. We will strive for a more nuanced understanding of our world and its power dynamics from various perspectives. We will investigate the context in which community and economic development has traditionally occurred, how technology has been involved, and the effects of projects and activities on the “beneficiaries”. We will investigate best practices including mindsets, worldviews, skills, processes, and tools for community-driven positive change. Finally we will use all our learnings to develop our own evaluation framework and apply it to a current community project. This course incorporates humanities and social science approaches and counts for general education requirements. Lecture 3 (Spring).
   Global Craftivism, Gender, and Handwork
   Feminist Leadership, Gender Equity and Empowerment
This course explores contemporary leadership styles through the lens of gender diversity. Relying upon a feminist social justice framework alongside models of intersectionality, students will actively engage with a wide variety of gender and culture-informed literature and visual media sources, defining—in both theory and practice—what it means to be an inclusive and empowering leader in modern society. Some questions to consider will include: In a work environment, who is responsible for ensuring gender equity? Where does inclusion begin? How does our personal identity shape our view of leadership? How does our view of leadership shape our identity? Why does gender matter in a professional environment? What role does feminism play in the construction of societal norms? What is the relation between leadership, power relations, and authority? How does a feminist social justice framework affect and reorient traditional notions of leadership? How do leadership styles and models vary across cultures? What styles of leadership are needed to create more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces, organizations, and societies? Lecture 3 (Fall).
   Feminist Activism for Gender Justice
This course focuses on the many forms of feminist activisms and feminist strategies of grassroots social resistance in the U.S. and beyond. It centers women as agents of social change in the struggle to challenge gender stereotypes, sexism, and oppressive policies; organize to reduce social issues such as poverty, racism, homophobia, and violence; work to expand opportunities for gender equity and social justice; and confront barriers in education, the criminal justice system, and politics. Topics of investigation include feminist struggles against domestic and sexual violence (including emergent forms of sexual regulation and slavery, agendas of incarceration, and politics of immigration and housing) as well as the fight for personhood, citizenship, legal rights, property rights, rights to the land, water, and clean air, disability rights, personal freedom, suffrage, education, reproductive rights, workplace equality, and more. As there is a personal element to all forms of feminist social activism, the course will also engage questions such as: How do you envision yourself as an empowered, effective activist for gender justice? What strengths, resources, and commitments can you bring to your gender justice work? What social issues are you most passionate about? Students in the course will also create or participate in some activist project concerning a particularly pressing local, national or global social issue thereby melding theory and practice for increased gender justice in the world we live in. Lecture 3 (Spring).

* Course may be used in consultation with academic advisor when the topic includes issues related to public institutions and policy.