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                           CHAPTER SIX
                       CUNY-HUNTER COLLEGE 
                       FEMINIST EDUCATION


     Hunter College of the City University of New York,
     reflecting both the political commitment of its women's
     studies program and the richly diverse student
     population, assesses their goals and accomplishments in
     three areas: multiculturalism, critical thinking, and
     integration of knowledge. Particular attention is paid to
     the relationship of women's studies to the community and
     to the program's advocacy component.

Founded by Thomas Hunter as a normal school to educate women whose
career goals included teaching children and adolescents, City
University of New York-Hunter College has sustained its
century-and-a-quarter commitment to educating women. As one of the
oldest branches of City University of New York, Hunter College is
now coeducational but 73 percent of its nineteen thousand students
are women, a percentage that has not varied since 1985. Even among
undergraduate non-degree students--the majority of whom are
participants in a Senior Citizen Program--two-thirds are women.

In graduate training programs at Hunter, women represent a larger
percentage of students than is found in the student population as
a whole. In 1990, for example, 76.6 percent of the graduate
students were women. And there are more women matriculating in
graduate programs (78.7 percent) than among non-matriculating
students (71.1 percent).

Approximately 53 percent of Hunter's student population are
minorities. The largest minority representation is in the African
American, non- Hispanic category, with Hispanic Other and Asian or
Pacific Islander second and third. The ethnic classifications of
Hunter's student body have remained relatively stable over the past
three years. Within the graduate programs, black, non-Hispanic
constitutes the largest minority group (14.9 percent in 1990); 67.3
percent are white, non-Hispanic.

The Women's Studies Program at Hunter College, officially begun in
the mid-1970s, has been central in women's studies since the
inception o~ this field of study. In 1983, the Hunter College
Women's Studies Collective published Women's Realities, Women's
Choices, the first comprehensive textbook for introductory women's
studies. Since then. Hunter's Women's Studies Pro- gram has
continued to grow and evolve, adding new faculty members and
striving to offer a curriculum that reflects the diversity of women
on a global basis while remaining at the forefront of women's
studies scholarship.

The Women's Studies Program at Hunter College has been one of three
departments/programs (with Anthropology and Urban Affairs) that
have shown the largest growth since 1985. Women's studies has gone
from thirty-two FTEs in 1985 to fifty-eight in 1990. representing
an 81 percent increase. An interdisciplinary academic program that
seeks to preserve. expand, and share knowledge about women and
gender, women's studies reexamines women's heritage and the role of
women in contemporary society and in all cultures. It aims, through
a focus on women's experiences, to open fresh perspectives
throughout the entire curriculum. Women's studies at Hunter relies
upon a broad community of affiliated faculty, staff, and students
and is ad- ministered by a coordinator and a policy committee of
elected student and faculty representatives.

Women's studies at Hunter College includes three components:
curriculum, scholarship, and advocacy. Through participation in the
FIPSE project, our program has sought to assess our goals and
accomplishments in three areas multiculturalism, critical thinking,
and integration of knowledge. Throughout this project, we have
tried to be as inclusive of our women's studies community as
possible in the formulation of goals and in their assessment. As a
result, we believe our assessment demonstrates that what we have
hoped to develop as the strengths of our program are, in fact,
strengths of our program. While work remains to be done, we believe
that this assessment has helped us to recognize the crucial ways in
which women's studies provides the students of Hunter College with
"the courage to question."


     I remember in my "Women in the Third World" class, one of
     the first things my professor talked about was embracing
     similarity in the heart of difference. And it took me so
     long to understand what she meant, and maybe l...just
     took lit] own way, but I was about...
     getting yourself out of your context somehow, or
     recognizing that you are m your context, and everything
     that you see, and everything that you believe has so much
     to do with...where you come from. 
                  WOMEN'S STUDIES STUDENT, 1991

The goal of multicultural learning involves a complex set of
intellectual and personal traits. In order to learn about other
cultures, students need to be able to draw connecting links between
their own experiences and the experiences of others; to comprehend
cultural differences; to deal with "culture shock"; to clear away
subjective obstacles to multicultural learning such as racism and

New York City is a world city; the students at Hunter College
reflect the extraordinary ethnic diversity of the globe.
Nonetheless, a number of aspects of life in New York City and at
Hunter College make the emergence of cosmopolitan citizens of the
world problematic. First, though New York consists of people from
all over the world, large parts of New York City are rigidly
segregated by ethnic group and by class. Many New Yorkers live in
extremely insulated communities. These structural problems are
compounded by difficulties in establishing sufficient trust for
multicultural understanding. As levels of incivility increase in
the city as a whole, no single individual's or group's efforts for
multicultural understanding will be automatically rewarded by the
recognition, appreciation, or acknowledgment of others.
Consequently, the high psychic costs of trying to understand others
may seem too high a price to pay for uncertain results.

To assess how effectively the Women's Studies Program accomplished
its complex goal of reflecting multiculturalism, we examined data
in three different areas: curriculum, scholarship, and collective
conversations with students.


An examination of Hunter's women's studies curriculum reveals a
concerted effort to offer multicultural courses, hire faculty
members from diverse backgrounds, and prepare existing faculty
members to weave multicultural issues throughout their courses. The
data suggest that the program's goal to infuse a multicultural
perspective in the women's studies program is being met.

The proportion of the curriculum that focuses on explicitly
multicultural themes is significant. During fall 1990, for example,
the Women's Studies Program offered six out of twelve multicultural
courses: "Women in the Third World"; "Women and Music in World
Cultures"; "Autobiographies of Black Women Literary Artists";
"Working Class Women in the United States, 1865-1960"; "Changing
Roles of Women in China/Japan"; and "The Politics of AIDS: Seminar
in Political Behavior." During spring 1991, the Women's Studies
Program offered seven out of sixteen courses on explicitly
multicultural themes: "Women and Development"; "Race, Gender, and
the Movies"; "Black Women Literary Artists"; "Lesbian Voices in the
Twentieth Century"; "Women in the Middle East"; "Women, Art, and
Culture"; and "Decolonizing Desire: Fiction By Third World Women."

Students also can choose from among several additional women's
studies courses regularly offered in the program that have
explicitly multicultural subjects: "Black Women in the Americas,"
"Puerto Rican and Latina Women," and "Immigrant Women in New York
City." Two other cross-listed courses regularly offered are
"Gender. Ethnicity, and Disease" and "Black Women Writers: Cross
Cultural Connections."

To expand such course offerings, the Women's Studies Program has
hired new faculty members and worked with existing faculty. Over
the past several years, the program has hired additional faculty
members who bring an international and multicultural perspective to
women's studies and has hired adjuncts to offer additional courses
in subjects such as "Black Women in the Americas," "Immigrant Women
in New York City," and "Lesbian Voices."

In order to prepare faculty members in multicultural women's
studies scholarship, the college has continued to support faculty
development seminars on a university-wide basis. During summer
1990, a Ford Foundation- sponsored project to integrate materia] on
women of color into the curriculum received support from Hunter
College and included faculty members from women's studies. The
college supported for the third year the City University- wide
Faculty Development Seminar on Balancing the Curriculum for Gender,
Race, Class, and Ethnicity, in which women's studies faculty
members played a central role. The newly renovated Women's Studies
Library/Resource Center also contains books, articles, and
audio/visual materials rich in multicultural resources to assist
faculty with their curriculum integration projects.

Additionally, faculty members teaching "Women's Studies 100" and
other cross-listed courses made concerted efforts to balance their
class materials for ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, race, and
class. Almost every section, for instance, in the "Women's Studies
100" course included either Audre Lorde's Sister/Outsider or
Johnnetta Cole's All American Women. A review of the syllabi in
general revealed that numerous articles on the experiences of
lesbians, older women, African American women, Afro-Caribbean
women, Puerto Rican women, Latinas, Asian American women, Native
American women, and others also were typical.

Funds from the Hunter College Pluralism and Diversity Grant were
used for integrating global materials into the introductory course
in women's studies. Funds from this grant also are being used to
help faculty members work on race and gender balancing curricula in
a variety of disciplines. The Women's Studies Program in
conjunction with the Psychology Department, for example, has
designed a program that will encourage students and faculty members
to consider culture, ethnicity, sex, gender, class, and race as
important psychological variables and to note the bias in
traditional psychological theories and research paradigms. Designed
by the current women's studies coordinator, Michele Paludi, the
course includes four components: (1) acquisition of educational
materials dealing with curriculum integration, (2) development of
a resource manual on curriculum integration, (3) faculty
development seminars to address curricular and pedagogical issues,
and (4) development of a new course in the Department of Psychology
called "Psychology of Gender, Ethnicity, and Race," which was
taught in spring 1992.

Like several other institutions nationally, Hunter College has
begun to explore adding a pluralism and diversity requirement to
its distribution requirements. Not surprisingly, faculty members in
women's studies have been actively involved in the discussion.
Among the tenets of the proposal is the requirement that all
students take a course focusing on women and women's contributions
to the disciplines.

Expanding the multicultural emphasis in the curriculum beyond the
classroom walls, Hunter also received grants from the Ford
Foundation and the Aaron Diamond Foundation to support women's
studies student internships in women's reproductive health care in
New York City and to sponsor a three-day conference on balancing
the curriculum for reproductive rights issues in a global
perspective. Currently the project is focusing on developing a
training program to enhance the reproductive health awareness of
Latinas in New York City.

The success of such efforts in attracting diverse students to
women's studies can be seen in the number of women of color,
lesbians, and older women who are women's studies majors. In 1991,
twelve women graduated with majors in women's studies. Among them,
one older lesbian is attending Harvard Law School, one older
African American woman is attending graduate school in creative
writing at Michigan State University, and an African American woman
is studying genetics at MIT. Suggesting both their training in
multiculturalism through women's studies and the encouragement to
do multicultural research, recipients of the 1991 Women's Studies
Prizes wrote papers and poems reflecting multicultural issues such
as "Race and the Press: Newspaper Coverage of the Central Park
Jogger Case." Likewise, the Community Service Awards, presented to
the Returning Women Magazine collective and to Satoko Yagiura and
Adelaide Sakeflyo, demonstrate a similar affirmation of
multicultural work.


Further evidence of the multicultural focus of our Women's Studies
Program is illustrated by our monthly colloquium series. For fall
1991, the program de- voted one month to the following themes, all
of which included material about diverse women: "Women's Studies in
the Academy: Scholarship, Pedagogy, and Advocacy," "Current Issues
in Women's Health: Research and Social Policy Applications," and
"Women's Mental Health and Well Being." For spring 1992, the
following themes were featured: "Literary and Media Images of
Women," "Violence Against Women," and "Women and Disabilities." The
1991 Bella Abzug Lectureship was given by Loretta Ross and Adetoun
Ilumoka and devoted to "Reproductive Rights: An
African/African-American Dialogue." In 1992, the lectureship will
be devoted to sex and race discrimination in the academy and
workplace and will be presented by Catharine Stimpson.

In addition, Hunter is one of twenty-six Rockefeller Foundation
Humanist-in-Residence sites in the country. This grant-funded
program has offered two fellowships each year, beginning in
1990-91, enabling feminist scholars to work on a research project
related to gender and feminism in Third World contexts and to
participate with women's studies students and faculty in a monthly
seminar on this topic. Annual themes for the humanist- in-residence
program have been Social Constructions and Representations of
Gender in Third World Societies, Women's Cultures of Resistance and
Organized Feminist Movements, and 'Third World' Women/'Western'
Women: Differences, Commonalities, and Cross-Currents of
Experience. To date, Hunter has hosted four scholars: Vivien Ng (a
historian at the University of Oklahoma), Sylvia Marcos (a
psychotherapist in Mexico), Jacqueline Alexander (a sociologist at
Brandeis University), and Sitralega Maunaguru (a poet, peace
activist, and lecturer in literature at the University of Jaffna in
Sri Lanka).

Faculty members also collaborate with students on a variety of
research projects, publish papers, and present work at conferences.
Examples of research currently being conducted at Hunter that have
a multicultural theme include: the interface of racism and sexism
in academic and workplace sexual harassment; Greek-American women;
immigrant women in the United States, 1840-2000; Italian women
authors, Medieval-Renaissance; minority women in academia; women
and international migration; women in Central America; women in
Latin America; and cross-race mentoring in the academy.


Donna Murdock, a women's studies student, organized a series of
collective conversations with students to evaluate whether, in
their experience, the Women's Studies Program fostered
multicultural awareness. In a series of small-group discussions
with alumnae and current students, most of whom were women's
studies majors, students recognized that progress has been made in
recentering the Women's Studies Program to reflect the wide
diversity that typifies women's lives. As one student put it:

     ...the Women's Studies Program has really evolved,
     evolved into something that's really helpful to women....
     [T]hey've put in more courses and they're always bringing's not only about white women. And for
     me, that's important, being a black woman.... I couldn't
     identify with something where I never see myself!

Confirming the sense that women's studies courses had made serious
progress toward being multiracial in content, another student
revealed how different women's studies classes were than she had
imagined: mother's always told me, "there's certain things
     you don't say around white people!" me coming with
     this kind of prejudice, I really felt that they had to
     prove themselves to me. You know, it was..."So what is
     this women's studies about, if it's all about white
     women?" But I found that it really wasn't like that.

Echoing this student's sentiments, a white student commented on the
transformative effect of her classes on her own consciousness:

     I have learned a lot other women
     black women feel in society...with...racism and sexism.
     I wasn't aware of how they felt until they spoke up and
     told me. How Indian women feel and...Asian women feel,
     and I think I have less now of an ethnocentric
     view...where I think our culture is the best. I no longer
     feel that way at all. 

Overall, students also felt women's studies addressed multicultural
issues far more directly and productively than other departments

Other students commented on how the atmosphere established in the
classroom helped students as they negotiated their multicultural
differences. One student commented, "The class was made up of very
diverse ethnic groups, and the respect and interaction and sharing
that went on was emotionally and intellectually supportive."
Another expressed it this way:

     I think that women's studies has...helped me learn not to
     stomp on other people s opinions and other people's
     feelings, and how to get across "this is why I don't
     agree with you and this is what I believe in and this is
     why." And...that has helped me in my political science
     courses and my political life and in my life.

In addition to the overall praise of the program, students offered
suggestions for meeting their need for more dialogue in courses
about racism and other "isms." "I would also like to see some more
stuff implemented on racism in our...classes and dealing with white
people's racism," suggested one student. A few women felt that
inclusion of women of color sometimes only came in special sections
or at the end of courses. The insistence on continuing to improve
the multicultural aspects of the Women's Studies Program is
represented by a student who praises the program highly even as she
demands it strive to do more: "I think we have a very good
multicultural, multiracial program, and I's just
admirable...seeing...the program [change] to where it's more
multicultural, multiracial. And I...still think we have a ways to
go with it, you know, I...really do." Overall, students also felt
women's studies addressed multicultural issues far more directly
and productively than other departments. As one student put it, the
"women's studies community is more sensitive than other communities
in Hunter College. And I have many friends who...are really
sensitive to my differences, and I can talk about that. And that's
really great."

                        CRITICAL THINKING

     ...women's studies opens up with questions, and so...that
     clicked for me.... That's really the biggest difference
     in women's studies and any other courses I've taken....
     [you question all the time, all the time. 
                 WOMEN'S STUDIES STUDENT, 1991 

Perhaps no single goal is more often repeated as a central tenet of
liberal arts education than the goal of helping students learn to
think critically. Although the goal of critical thinking may seem
to be an issue of "learning skills" rather than a broader goal, we
conceive of critical thinking as a more complex activity. In order
to engage in critical thinking, a learner must be able to see
herself as capable of critical analysis, to use tools of analysis,
to possess sufficient knowledge and perspective to engage in
fruitful and substantive critical analysis. Thus, the goal of
critical thinking involves several components: it requires
"empowerment," in both a structural and a subjective sense; it
requires knowledge of tools of analysis; and it requires a
reservoir of situated, comprehended knowledge.

Hunter College as an urban public institution primarily consists of
working-class and first-generation college students. Students at
Hunter frequently come from backgrounds that either are
educationally deficient (where low demands have been placed on them
to write or to comprehend large bodies of material, theoretical
perspectives, abstract ideas and thinking), or they perceive
themselves to come from deficient backgrounds. Sixty percent of
students entering Hunter require remedial work in reading, writing,
or mathematics in order to do college-level work. In addition, many
students are older and returning women who are unsure of their
skills even when they are adequate. Consequently, it is important
that we not take for granted the students' temperamental
preparation for critical thinking. Thus, in order to speak of the
goal of critical thinking at Hunter College we must speak about the
development of a base of knowledge, tools of analysis, and a way to
instill in our students the confidence and sense of self that are
necessary for critical thinking.

Three assessment instruments were used in analyzing our progress in
helping students in critical thinking skills: course syllabi, exams
and paper assignments, and informal classroom writings. Evidence
derived from this assessment supports the conclusion that students
in women's studies courses are encouraged to think critically in
their classes but that we might be more self-conscious about the
importance of this goal.

                         COURSE SYLLABI 

Syllabi of women's studies courses stress the need for students to
develop skills of critical thinking. Although not all of the ten
introductory women's studies syllabi reviewed used the language of
"critical thinking," at least one did, defining it as "an ability
to direct informed questions at everything you read, see, and
hear." Another syllabus included, as a course goal, "to develop our
intellectual ability of analysis."

One instructor, for example, teaches the introductory course in
women's studies in a way that helps students learn foundations for
a feminist restructuring of the academic disciplines. She focuses
on methodologies and theories in a variety of disciplines,
including psychology, economics, political science, and history,
and offers feminist correctives to the portrayal of women in these
disciplines. Her goal is to have students question the treatment of
women in subsequent courses they take. Other faculty members
teaching the introductory course revolve their
lectures/presentations and discussions around themes, such as
gender as socially constructed, the distinction between sex and
gender, women's health concerns, and women's career development.


Course assignments can be a vehicle through which students can
develop skills in critical thinking. To foster critical thinking,
women's studies courses at Hunter stress paper writing and essay
exams--unlike many other courses in the college, especially at the
introductory level.

Often, assignments require students to engage in research, assess
the adequacy of that material, and reflect on the importance of the
research. For example, the first assignment in one introductory
women's studies course required students to browse through
professional journals in women's studies and think about the
importance of one essay in contemporary scholarship. Rosalind
Petchesky's "work" assignment required students to interview two
women whose work experiences were likely to have been different and
to compare them. Joan Tronto's "caring" assignment required
students to track the kinds of caring work done in their households
and reflect upon these results to investigate gender roles in their

Exam essay questions frequently require integration of material
from several sources that necessitates a critical reflection of
ideas. Marnia Lazreg's "Women in the Middle East" course, for
example, required students to compare Edward Said's "orientalist"
practice with an essay on Arab Women in the Field. Joan Tronto
asked students in the introductory course to discuss some
implications of claims such as, "Patriarchy oppresses all women."
This provided an opportunity for students to reflect a broad range
of knowledge and the need to define, to qualify, and to dispute
commonly heard over generalizations.

Additional evidence that students do learn analytical skills are
apparent from the Women's Studies Prizes. While several awards went
to collections of poems, others have been awarded to students who
have written analytical essays, such as "Fetal Protection Policies:
A Discriminatory Policy or a Business Necessity?" "Race and the
Press: Newspaper Coverage of the Central Park Jogger Case," and
"Dangerous Appetites: Eating as Metaphor in Christine Rosetti's
'Goblin Market'."


Students in the introductory women's studies classes were asked to
informally provide information about whether the course fits with
their educational goals. As one woman stated:

     This women's studies course has helped me to see things
     in a different light. I've realized that I've believed
     many things that are not true, so in general, my overall
     awareness has expanded. I am more critical of what I hear
     [and] read.

In the course survey conducted of introductory women's studies
classes during fall 1990 and spring 1991 (see pages 154-55~, many
students commented on aspects of critical thinking as an outcome of
the course. A typical range of remarks included statements such as:
"an empowering experience"; "This course definitely made me think
for myself'; and "It introduced me to a whole new world of ideas
and concepts." Another woman wrote:

     This class was much more in-depth and required much more
     work on the part of the student. Most intro courses
     consist of at least 100 students, 2 multiple choice tests
     and a text that is opened twice.

In the collective conversations, Donna Murdock noted that students
felt the program had become more self-conscious over the years in
its goal of fostering critical thinking. The consensus among
students was that it was important to make critical thinking an
expressed goal. In comment after comment, the students felt
challenged to think in their women's studies courses.

For some it was overwhelming, but they suggest that the kind of
thinking demanded of them was distinctive and worth the extra work:

     ...a lot of people take women's studies courses because
     they think they're going to be easy, and then they flip
     when they get in there and they find out these are
     probably the hardest courses! Because, first of all, you
     have to think.... It's not like math, it's not like just
     about any Some students experience a new tension between
     exercising their critical faculties in women's studies
     and repressing them elsewhere other discipline in the
     school where you don't have to think.

Another student found she could transfer to other courses what she
learned in women's studies about critical thinking: terms of looking at more of an analytic
     type way...and using critical skills,...I really owe that
     to women's studies and it also helped me in my other
     courses...because it's not as much what you see, it's how
     you see it....I've always thought the more ways you can
     see something, the more of it you'll see.

Another woman stated:

     Women's studies is a very participatory kind of
     education.... [I]t offers us a way to empower ourselves
     and to obtain a voice, and when you have that voice,
     you're going to start using it.... You turn around and
     you say, "now wait a minute!"

Students in the collective conversations valued learning to speak
their minds:

     ...part of the difference about being in women's studies
     is you have...input into the course and you say..."I
     didn't see such and such included in this...[or] this
     experience is limited." And that's one of the things you
     can do in a women's studies course that you can't do when
     you're taking [another] course.

The quotations underscore the importance of how students conceive
of critical learning. It requires an opportunity to talk in the
first instance. Second, it requires a willingness by the instructor
to surrender the role of sole expert. Third, it requires a
willingness by the instructor to show how scholars ask and
formulate questions or do their work. Fourth, it requires practice
at these skills. And, fifth, it requires support and patience on
the part of faculty members who ask students to critically analyze
academic disciplines. For some students, their newly acquired
critical thinking skills are not always invited in other courses.
As represented by the following quotation, some students experience
a new tension between exercising their critical faculties in
women's studies courses and repressing them elsewhere:

     ...taking women's studies courses has a good effect and
     a bad effect for me, ...[the good effect is] bringing
     this awareness of diversity to you.... [T]he bad effect
     [is] the resultant critique that you bring to your other
     classes.... [Y]ou're almost forced to put these blinders
     on, you know, when you start looking at other
     materials...where you're expected to look at it in a
     traditional way, so...I find myself having two
     personalities here you know, the kind of analysis and
     freedom I have in a women's studies course and then the
     more narrow view I'm expected to take and I'm graded on
     in other courses.

                    INTEGRATION OF KNOWLEDGE

     When I got into...women's studies...the professor
     encouraged [me to] "Speak up, talk louder" and I was like
     "wow, this is different the world is. "
     And...I felt good being in a place where I could express
     myself the way...of my choosing....I didn't have to
     stifle my voice....
                  WOMEN'S STUDIES STUDENT, 1991

Although Hunter College is a liberal arts college and does not view
the task of education in narrowly vocational terms, we do expect
that the kinds of critical learning in a multicultural environment
that we offer will deeply affect our students' lives. We expect
that students will change their perspectives; we also expect that
students will act to integrate their new perspectives into their
lives. They may change their course of study, for example, to avoid
courses that do not consider women's studies perspectives as valid.
They may change their majors. They may change their career plans or
how they think about key issues that affect their lives. We expect
that the decisions students make during and after their women's
studies courses will reflect their new learning and knowledge.
Additionally, women's studies students are likely to experience
dissonance and conflict as they juxtapose new material and
perspectives from their women's studies classes with their values
and lives in a predominantly sexist, racist, ethnocentric society.
The integration of the women's studies perspective into their lives
is likely to prove difficult; these difficulties will be reflected
in our classes. We need somehow to convey to students, though, that
it is possible (to use Elizabeth Minnich's phrase) to be
"tough-minded and tender-hearted." Such a goal is of special
importance at Hunter College because many students view education
in terms that are too narrowly vocational or instrumental.
Furthermore, a criticism often heard of American higher education
is that it lacks integration. In assessing the integration of
knowledge gained in women's studies courses into students' academic
plans and lives, we also can assess the contribution that women's
studies makes to the broader goal of liberal arts education.

In women's studies classes, students are given opportunities to
analyze their experiences outside the classroom for underlying
sexist and feminist principles. The juxtaposition of theoretical
and personal, experiential knowledge contributes to students' anger
and guilt at the same time it fosters their awareness of feminist

In order to assess students' integration of knowledge, the Women's
Studies Curriculum Committee devised a survey for participants in
the introductory women's studies courses during the fall 1990 and
spring 1991 semesters. Students were asked to comment on the
following issues: the value of the course to them as a whole,
whether a sense of community was built in the class, whether the
course met their expectations, and comparisons be- tween this
course and other introductory courses. Responses from these
open-ended questions include: 

* On the overall value of the class:

     I feel that it has had a large impact on how I view the world.
     I find more and more that I notice behaviors, situations, and
     find them disturbing for reasons that had never occurred to me

     I hit apathy and despair a few times because the anger just
     got to be too much to bear. I think that there needs to be
     some kind of weekly discussion group or something to vent
     feelings of frustration.

     This course had a big impact on my way of thinking. It enabled
     me to view my way of life and the world around me.

     It forced me to become aware of a lot of realities that
     perhaps I didn't want to face . I'm much more aware of the
     discriminatory attitudes against women that are around me

* On community:

     The class was made up of very diverse ethnic groups and the
     respect and interaction and sharing that went on was
     emotionally and intellectually supportive.

     I feel that our class has become a community. When I had to
     speak in front of the class, I never felt nervous. All of my
     classmates gave me encouragement and a feeling of belonging.

In the discussion from the collective conversations, women
generally noted that they made connections between their women's
studies courses and their daily lives. However, these connections
often were problematic. Students suggested the need for support
groups, ongoing contacts, and more dialogue among students to
foster further connections between their cognitive and emotional
learning. Sample responses include:

     ...the women's studies courses that I take go beyond this
     classroom, this paper that I'm writing, it goes out and
     just...touches everything else that I'm involved
     in...because it gives me a way to see, a way to think, a
     way to question everything, so it's applicable everywhere
     for me.

     Women's studies has for me merged my education with my
     own life process, my own personal development and brought
     them together so it's much more enriching and much more
     real, other classes you memorize, you read put it away in compartments.

That Hunter's Women's Studies Program does not want students to put
away their new knowledge into compartments is emphasized overtly by
one of the women's studies awards established, by its internship
programs, and by its Women's Studies Club. Through these vehicles,
students are encouraged, rewarded, and given college credit for
integrating knowledge in such a way that it affects one's behavior.

Significantly, it was an alumna, Sylvia Faulkner, who established
a fund in her name that is used each year to award a $500 prize to
a women's studies major who has written an essay that integrates
her experiences in the Women's Studies Program at Hunter College.
To date, five Sylvia Faulkner Awards have been presented.

Through internships, women's studies students are challenged to
move knowledge out of compartments and into the world. Transforming
their own thinking and actions, integrated knowledge becomes for
many students a way of applying that knowledge to transform society
itself. During 1990-91, student interns participated in a variety
of projects, especially those sponsored by a Reproductive Rights
Grant. Students were placed at Students Organizing Students; the
Reproductive Rights Task Force, Policy Development Unit, Manhattan
Borough President's Office; Childbearing Center, Morris Heights,
the Bronx; HELP/AYUDA (an AIDS education organization in East
Harlem); STD Education Project, New York City Health Department;
New York Community Trust;. Latina Roundtable on Health and
Reproductive Rights; Boehm Foundation; ASTRAEA Foundation; NOW-NYC,
National Congress of Neighborhood Women's You Can Community School;
Returning Women Magazine; Women's Health Education Project; and the
American Civil Liberties Union-Reproductive Freedom Project.

Many interns expressed in their reports that they were able to
connect the theory and scholarship from women's studies courses
into their work. Many students also were offered jobs as a result
of their internships; others discovered new career goals and

Similarly, students who are members of the Women's Studies Club
have transferred what they have learned about integrated knowledge
into the activities they organize. During the 1990-91 academic year
the Women's Studies Club facilitated several workshops and
discussion groups to deal with the integration of scholarship and
action. Sample topics included academic and workplace sexual
harassment, relationships, and racism.


Participating in the FIPSE assessment project definitely has
affected our program. Most importantly, our participation has
created a tone and an opportunity for self-conscious thought and
action about what we are doing as a program. It has confirmed in
many cases our intuitive judgments about how well we are succeeding
with our program goals, but it also has given us areas to focus on
for improvement as well as entirely new areas to investigate as we
continue to incorporate assessment into our regular routine of
evaluating what we are doing educationally. The FIPSE project has
provided us with a focus around which we have organized our annual
retreats for the past three years. One of our serendipitous
findings, then, is how valuable it is for the program--majors, new
students, regular faculty members, adjuncts, staff--to set aside a
day for discussion and consideration of our goals, pedagogy, and

For example, since our program has been striving for some years to
increase the amount and kind of multicultural offerings in women's
studies and on the campus at large, it has been extremely important
for us to assess both our accomplishments and our needs for the
future. One of the most difficult aspects of making education more
multicultural is creating an atmosphere of trust and mutual
respect. The assessment techniques we have used this year show that
we are moving toward accomplishing this end, even though no one yet
believes that we have dealt entirely satisfactorily with this

Faculty retreats that focused on the assessment project have helped
us sort out where we want to do additional work. One concern, for
instance, raised repeatedly in retreat discussions, has been the
way new knowledge, especially new knowledge that causes one to
reevaluate old ways of seeing the world and other people, often
results in emotionally charged class sessions. Many of the students
who participate in the introductory course in women's studies never
have encountered feminist philosophies in prior courses. They may
have no one at home with whom to discuss the class content, they
may be seen as "rocking the boat," questioning their family's
religion and values, and/or called derogatory names because of
their association with feminism and women's studies. At Hunter, we
believe that the classroom needs to become a place where women can
feel good about themselves and others without the fear of being
laughed at or considered "unfeminine." Pedagogical techniques
including journal writing, experiential exercises, introspective
autobiographies, and cooperative learning structures have had the
power to replace self-doubt with certainty, low self-esteem with
respect and caring.

Expressions of anger in the classroom sometimes stem from students
realizing they may not be living their lives according to feminist
principles; they also may feel that their voices as women of color
are not being heard. Students may, as a result, fail to attend
class regularly, play devil's advocate in each session, and/or
attempt to take leadership in the classroom. Very commonly,
manifestations of anger in the classroom become fixed on the
instructor because of her expressions of feminism and
multiculturalism as she interprets them. One way that some of our
faculty members deal with this anger is to acknowledge it, claim
its transformative powers, and direct it toward individual and
social change. In order to meet this goal, for example, Michele
Paludi devotes class time to interpersonal communication skills,
especially the use of "I" statements--for example, "I
feel_______when you_______because of_________." This technique has
helped participants give constructive feedback in a supportive
atmosphere, producing a more honest classroom. Occasionally,
students' anger becomes fixed on other students. This has
manifested itself in directing homophobic and racist remarks toward
other women in the classroom. Some faculty members have translated
these comments into a discussion about a "continuum of
feminism"--that there is not one kind of feminist. In addition,
devoting class time to how to argue with ideas rather than people
has been helpful.

Faculty members have discovered from such conversations how helpful
and reassuring it is to discuss pedagogy with committed colleagues.
We discovered that we need to hold more discussion of women's
studies pedagogy within the women's studies faculty and with
faculty members in the disciplines. The FIPSE project also has
provided additional opportunities to pull together and share
ongoing work on pedagogy, especially research in that area done by
our own women's studies faculty.

Given how beneficial the faculty members felt their participation
was in the project, it is no surprise that students felt similarly.
The students and alumnae were quick to point out to the program
coordinators how much they valued being consulted in the assessment
project. It became a concrete way of enacting the empowerment and
critical thinking that the project it- self hoped to investigate.
Several students hoped that the program would continue such
collective discussions and figure out a way to build them into the
program's regular activities, both for the eager students and for
those who were more reluctant to participate initially.

For a group of faculty members, assessment has lost its negative
overtones of coercion from outside forces. Especially for faculty
members most involved in this project, learning about assessment as
a tool for curriculum improvement, and not as a means of
disciplining the faculty and student workforce, has been extremely
valuable. At Hunter College, women's studies faculty members are
important constituents of the college community, often serving on
major committees elsewhere. Another consequence of this grant,
then, is that we have created a core advocacy group for assessment.
Such a core has an impact university-wide in terms of Freshman Year
Initiative, work done on the Undergraduate Course of Study
Committee, the Committee on Remediation, the Provost's Advisory
Committee on Remedial and Developmental Programs, and within the
Faculty Delegate Assembly and University Faculty Senate.

Materials collected for the FIPSE project also are useful in
explaining the nature and extent of gender harassment and will be
used by members of the Sexual Harassment Panel to train the
President's Hunter College Cabinet. Certain assessment instruments
developed for the FIPSE project, such as the surveys in "Women's
Studies 100," are going to become an ongoing source of assessment
in the future. The surveys turned out to be an invaluable way to
monitor from one semester to the next how a particular course
fared. The curriculum committee in women's studies plans to
continue its use and perhaps extend it to other women's studies
classes as well. Similarly, we discovered how useful our newsletter
and annual report are as assessment documents because they reveal
much about the program, its history, concerns, and areas of focus.

The FIPSE project also has caused us to consider some new areas of
investigation and collaboration. The project, for example, has
focused our attention in a new way on the relationship between
women's studies and the liberal arts curriculum. This focus is
particularly valuable at Hunter College at the moment since there
is an ongoing debate about whether to include a pluralism and
diversity requirement in the basic distribution requirement.

Another area we hope to explore further, both in more precise focus
groups and with more help from Hunter's Office of Institutional
Research, is the question of the relationship of women's studies to
retention. We might hypothesize that, since retention seems to be
strongly linked with a sense of attachment, the kind of community
formed in women's studies classes (which was clearly demonstrated
by our work on the FIPSE project) might prove useful in retaining

The Women's Studies Program also is thinking in new ways about its
relationship to remedial and developmental programs. Thinking about
basic pedagogical questions such as reading and writing skills in
"Women's Studies 100" has raised within the curriculum committee in
women's studies the question of whether women's studies courses
might not be linked effectively with sections of remedial and
developmental courses at Hunter. One of the most serious problems
for students in developmental courses here is their lack of access
to regular courses in Hunter's curriculum so that they may begin to
do college-level work. "Women's Studies 100" seems a most
appropriate bridge course. The program has contacted members of the
developmental programs to discuss this future collaboration.

Finally, the FIPSE assessment has influenced directly the
activities and programs in women's studies. As a result of the
project, the program has created for itself for the first time a
list of alumnae and majors. Now that these lists have been
prepared, it will be much easier to keep them up-to-date and
accurate. As such, they will become a rich source of new data for
questions we will continue to raise about what happens to students
who take women's studies courses.

The project's focus on fostering multicultural awareness has
contributed to two of the faculty development workshops for the
1991-92 academic year. One concerned applying for funding for
research on women and ethnic minority women in particular, and one
concerned publishing textbooks in the areas of race and gender. We
also have prepared a list of faculty research interests in the
interface of race, class, and gender, making such copies avail-
able at a variety of places on campus.

The project's work on integrating knowledge into our lives has been
partly responsible for several other program activities this year.
The first was a "Women's Fair," something the program hopes to
offer each semester, at which organizations from Hunter College as
well as throughout New York City display materials and discuss
their work in a variety of areas students requested. Among those
subjects are AIDS, cancer, gynecological care, and mental health

That same semester, a resource manual was prepared and distributed
with referrals and resources for women's studies students that
contains information about physical and psychological care in New
York City. A second manual dealing with multicultural issues was
prepared in spring 1992.

Hunter's Women's Studies Program also is in the process of
establishing a mentoring program for women's studies students.
Mentors will be Hunter alumnae who are doing feminist advocacy in
New York City, providing students with concrete examples of how to
implement knowledge to transform people's lives.

Emphasizing the importance of applying new knowledge to the society
in which we live, the Women's Studies Program also plans to
collaborate more closely with the National Council for Research on
Women, a ten-year-old coalition of sixty-nine research and policy
centers around the country. NCRW's centers have a special mission
to create opportunities for connecting research to policy issues
and practitioners' needs. Hunter's Women's Studies Program already
has helped the council prepare a resource manual on academic sexual
harassment. The FIPSE project, then, has been effective in helping
us assess where we have been, what we have done well, and what
directions we need to go in as the program moves into a new phase
of development with the recent appointment of a new coordinator.
Hunter women's studies faculty members share a continuing
commitment to create a climate where a variety of students'
cultural experiences are valued, where students are taught to think
critically, and where students are encouraged to integrate
knowledge with life. The FIPSE project has extended the
collaborative model of working together with students and faculty
members, all of us learning cooperatively in the process. This, we
believe, is the major goal of feminist education.

1. We wish to extend our appreciation to Donna Murdock and Ruth
Weisgal for providing us with demographic information and
summarizing the material from Hunter College's participation in the
NWSA grant on "The Courage to Question." Donna Murdock deserves
special recognition for her role in conducting interviews with
women's studies students and alumnae. We also wish to thank Provost
Laura Strumingher and Associate Provost Shirely Hune for their
support of this project. Our colleagues Marnia Lazreg, Rosalind
Petchesky, and Barbara Winslow deserve recognition for
administering surveys to students in their classes during the
1990-91 academic year. And we thank the women's studies students
and alumnae who were gracious in participating in our projects.
Finally, we would like to recognize the coordinators of Hunter's
Women's Studies Program since its inception in the mid-1970s: Sarah
Pomeroy, Dorothy Helly, Rosalind Petchesky, and Michele Paludi.

                     SURVEY OF PARTICIPANTS 
                       CUNY-HUNTER COLLEGE

1. Your year at Hunter: 
first-year student 

2. Your sex:
Female      Male

3. How do you identify yourself in terms of your ethnic identity?

4. Your age: 
71 +

5. Your major:
Your Co-Major or minor:

6. Why did you take "Introduction to Women's Studies"? (check all
that apply) 
A friend recommended it 
It was one of the few open at the time I wanted 
I wanted to take a/another women's studies course 
I am a women's studies collateral major 
I am thinking about becoming a women's studies collateral major 
The subject matter intrigued me 
I wanted to take a course with this professor 
Other (please list)

7. Additional information about yourself you would like to share
with us: 

We would like to know the ways the introductory course has had an
impact on you. ne following questions deal with this issue.

1. Comment on the value of this course to you as a whole.

2. If you had to describe this course to a friend, what three
adjectives would you use? Why ?

3. Did this course meet your expectations? Why or why not?

4. If the instructor of this course could have done something
differently, what would that have been '

5. If you could have done something differently in this course,
what would that have been ?

6. Please suggest three topics you believe need to be discussed in
the introductory course ?

7. Compared to other introductory courses you have taken (e.g.,
introductory sociology, introductory psychology), how has
"Introduction to Women's Studies" been similar?

8. Was there a balance between the survey-scope of the course and
some more in-depth investigation? Please explain.

9. Please identify three major themes from the introductory course
in women's studies.

10. Do you think that a sense of community was built in your
introductory course? Why or why not?

11. What readings did you find particularly useful in this course?

12. This is your space! We welcome your comments about any of the
items in the survey and additional information about the
introductory course you would like to share with us. Thank you