This file was prepared for electronic distribution by the inforM staff. Questions should be directed to email@example.com. National Women's Studies Association A Report to the Profession LIBERAL LEARNING AND THE WOMEN'S STUDIES MAJOR Completed in conjunction with the Association of American Colleges National Review of Arts and Sciences Majors THE WOMEN'S STUDIES MAJOR WOMEN'S EXPERIENCE AND THE FEMINIST CRITIQUE The phone rings at 9:00 pm on a Tuesday in January. It's Marguerite, a first-year student in my introductory honors course on women writers, who has been working on her first paper: a discussion of the famous moments of exclusion described by Virginia Woolf in the opening chapter of A Room of One's Own. Wandering around Oxbridge, Woolf is asked to keep off the grass, barred from the library, and made aware that she should not enter the chapel-all because she is a woman, not a 'fellow'. Marguerite had been in the library and realized too late that she had waited until after dark to leave. Unlike Woolf, she was locked in, not locked out, but for the same reason: she is a woman, not a man. The campus is dangerous to women alone at night. `I couldn't believe I had forgotten the time,' she says. `Usually I am so careful.' Fortunately, her roommate was home and came in a car to get her. As Marguerite was waiting, she did a little survey. It turned out that men came and went alone, but no women did. She witnessed several women making calls at the public phone, for what was obviously routine `protection'. My student has realized something about Woolf's text that, perhaps, no man could, and she is energized by this new understanding. It was reading Woolf that led to her survey and to her recognition that her experience was shared and was political. She has also called because she wants to know whether it's all right if she refers to this evening's discovery in her paper. She has learned her lessons well and knows that you're not supposed to write about `real life' in English papers. Her expressions of relief and gratitude when I give her permission to feel what she is feeling and to articulate it as part of her analysis leave me wondering: How will all those other women in the lobby of the library understand their confinement? Which class in this vast university will ever address-or even acknowledge-the fundamental fact that a woman alone cannot go to the library here without risk after dark? Also, like Marguerite, however, I am partly exhilarated. Merely by assigning Virginia Woolf, I have precipitated a moment of consciousness- raising which must be replicated an untold number of times before it will result in a world in which Marguerite can leave the library alone at midnight if she wants-and she, too, will now help replicate that moment." Marguerite's epiphany is why women's studies exists. The library incident exemplifies how theory and experience work together to transform the student's sense of self and her relation to the world. Women's studies' central responsibility is to facilitate such moments of recognition and to follow them with moments of empowerment. The moments of recognition come when women or men identify the artificial gender constructions imposed by them and by their culture. The moments of empowerment are initiated when, as in Marguerite's case, women replace their internalized acceptance of feminine dependency with a feminist awareness that enables them to critique the conditions of their lives--and to work to change them. Many similar examples occur in women's studies classrooms every day, as students reinterpret their own and other women's lives; find multiple layers of meaning in literature, the arts, popular culture, and ordinary conversation; discover a language to describe sexual assaults and differential treatment; recover women-centered views of women's society, work, and values; and gradually create new strategies for functioning in and changing their worlds. To foster such personal and intellectual transformation, women's studies both critiques existing theories and methodologies and formulates new paradigms and organizing concepts in all academic fields. It provides students with tools to uncover and analyze the ideological dynamics of their lives and to become active participants in processes of social, political, and personal change. What we teach, and the way we teach it, encourages students to imagine alternatives to present systems of inequality and participate in political transformation. WOMEN'S STUDIES AND HIGHER EDUCATION What we have at present is a man-centered university, a breeding ground not of humanism, but of masculine privilege. Adrienne Rich On Lies, Secrets, and Silences The central organizing category of analysis in women's studies is the concept of gender, which we understand as a pervasive social construc- tion reflecting and determining differentials of power and opportunity. From their inception, however, feminist scholarship and pedagogy also have emphasized the diversity of women's experiences, the importance of the differences among women as necessary correctives to the distortions inherent in androcentric views of human behavior, culture, and society. Women's studies therefore establishes the social construction of gender as a focal point of analysis in a complex matrix with class, race, age, ethnicity, nationality, and sexual identity as fundamental categories of social and cultural analysis. Women's studies at its best resists seeing `woman' as only white, middle class, heterosexual, and young. The deliberate deconstruction of the term `woman' and the tyranny such a term exercises over women is more than a simple recognition of multiple oppressions; our analyses require attention to the entire matrix. Gender, for example, never operates independently of race; it is differently formulated and experienced depending on class or national identity; and lesbian lives, so typically erased or distorted in most accounts, reflect more genuine complexity when analyzed by the context of ethnicity or age. In the United States, women's studies grew out of the women's movement of the 1960s and 1970s as both faculty and students saw that women's social and political inequality was reflected in and partly produced by the invisibility of women's experience in the curricula, research priorities, and methodologies in higher education. Women's studies began as compensatory education, but it has become a comprehensive intellectual and social critique which retains its roots in the political women's movement. Of critical importance is our recognition that we, as women's studies faculty, are working `against the grain' of our privileges--as various as they are, given race, class, ethnicity, and sexual identity--in an effort to extend privileges to all. Within our academic community, we faculty are, for example, indebted to the many women within colleges and universities such as clerical and maintenance staff who make our work possible. No understanding of women's studies is possible without acknowledging these shared political goals--commitments which, like much of the feminist project, are not honored and rarely even recognized as legitimate, by the academy itself, in its need to maintain myths of `disinterested' inquiry and solitary individual achievement. Women's studies' location `against the grain' of the academic institutions in which it operates reflects the marginal position assigned to women generally. The view from the margin, however, has provided women's studies with a theoretical perspective as `other', a perspective essential to our enterprise for the moment and one that distinguishes women's studies in important ways from the more established disciplines in higher education. Like race-specific ethnic studies programs, women's studies makes central the perspectives, experiences, and cultures of the marginalized. Our position on the boundaries of conventional academic categories has important structural and epistemological consequences. Each profoundly affects the nature and definition of the women's studies major. The distinctive contribution of such a perspective was singled out in an AAC report, "A New Vitality in General Education". `Women's studies' questioning of accepted explanations of topics and problems', the report explains, `has motivated an emphasis on accurate development, analysis, synthesis, and theory building.'(1) Women's studies grew rapidly because it met urgent political and intellectual needs and because its founders took advantage of existing institutional frameworks and structures. These structures are employed by other interdisciplinary units, most particularly by African American and other ethnic studies programs, with which women's studies shares similar intellectual traditions, social definitions, pedagogy, and unique institu- tional responsibilities and dilemmas linked to our cultural histories. While women's studies exhibits great structural diversity and flexibility, the field never has had the luxury of designing either programs or curricula without making compromises. The nature and structure of women's studies programs, more than those of most academic fields, are tied directly to resources and to the credibility and legitimacy women's studies can achieve on a given campus. Like so many other interdisciplinary programs, women's studies is part of what Charles Lemert has identified as the `shadow structure' integral to nearly every college and university, its `academic other': those programs where few teachers have tenure, where resources typically are thin and rewards rare, but where much, if not most, cutting-edge scholarship is occurring and where faculty are most passionately engaged in their research and teaching (2). As Lemert and others have pointed out, `dis- ciplines' all too often are confused with or even identified with what are, above all, administrative units (departments, divisions, schools, and colleges). Disciplines exert an administrative authority masquerading as an intellectual one and thus render suspect programs and curricula that violate or transcend conventional boundaries. Curricular proposals, ap- peals for faculty lines and operating resources, and funding requests for program and faculty development in women's studies often must be accompanied by re-articulations of the rationale for its existence--some- thing rarely required of established disciplines. It is therefore of considerable importance, in describing and evaluating the current state of women's studies, that the degree to which it is still marginalized on many campuses (and by some disciplines more than by others) be kept in mind, and that it be understood from the outset that part of the project in which women's studies remains engaged is the achievement of the intellectual and administrative authority automatically granted to more conventional and established areas of study. The very conditions of structural tension or political and administrative marginality that plague many women's studies programs, however, are also the conditions of women's studies intellectual strength. By insisting on interdisciplinary flexibility and reflexivity, by refusing conventional categories and labels, by asserting obligations to a self-conscious critique of the politics of knowledge, we resist absorption into an `acceptable' (and safe) liberal pluralism at the expense of a radical critique. While women's studies calls for a reallocation of material rewards to be applied to those programs on the margin as well as in the center, its epistemological power depends, precisely, on its location in spaces where conventional intellectual boundaries are blurred. In the tensions and contradictions between the need for academic authority and women's studies' refusal of it on patriarchal terms, we construct our idea of feminist education in general, and of a women's studies major in particular. We in women's studies know, and we try always to teach our students, that feminism cannot occupy a central position in established academic inquiry when its very existence is predicated on de-centering that tradition. Women's studies, then, holds up a deliberately fragmented mirror to the old conceptions of the core curriculum of the liberal art. It refutes the claim that the liberal arts as traditionally conceived offers the student `wholeness' or `well-roundedness'. The emphasis on social construction in feminist scholarship exposes as untenable the primacy of the free and autonomous individual implied since the Enlightenment in the term `liberal'. From its position on the margin and by its willingness to identify its own ideologies, women's studies brings to light the ideological nature of all structures of knowledge--most particularly the masculine bias in existing curricula that once seemed complete and impartial. Perhaps the most important skill women's studies can pass on to students is the ability to recognize those biases where they seem most invisible. A feminist analysis also challenges the metaphor of `study in depth' as it applies to contemporary structures of knowledge. AAC's "Integrity" report defines the great lessons of the major as: . . . the joy of mastery, the thrill of moving forward in a formal body of knowledge and gaining some effective control over it, integrating it, perhaps even making some small contribution to it . . . No matter how deeply or widely students dig, no matter how much they know, they cannot know enough, they cannot know everything. (3) A feminist analysis of this rhetoric reveals in addition not only a disturbing sexual subtext implying an analogy between knowledge and sexual subjugation, but, more transparently, an idea of learning as mastery or control. Clearly embedded in this language are unconscious androcentric assumptions of dominance and subordination between the knower and the known, assumptions that all to readily bring to mind the traditional relationship of men to women; of the colonizers to the colonized; indeed, of the masters to the slaves. Such phallocentric metaphors for the project of `study in depth' raise serious questions for feminist participation in it. These metaphors are not the accidental usages of one report, but replicate the dominant discourses of Western empiricism which women's studies (along with other postmodern interpretive systems) critiques. Such language indicates a misdirection for any intellectual project. Interdisciplinary study is becoming the prototype of organizing academic inquiry as we move into the 21st century. More appropriate metaphors for the idea of the major, therefore, are those now operative in women's studies: matrix, connection, dialogue, network. Women's studies does not seek to give students control over knowledge; rather, it helps students understand their place in social and cultural matrices and negotiate their environment, learning from-as well as resolving contradictions through dialogue. In place of metaphors of mastery, feminism offers metaphors of intimacy and intersubjectivity; rather than relationships of dominance, we prefer those of reciprocity; for conceptions of knowledge as acquisition, we substitute ideas of exchange and community. We certainly do not want to be locked out of the library; neither do we want to be locked in. We locate our description of the women's studies major between our discomfort with some of the assumptions of the idea of `study in depth' and our belief that a women's studies curriculum helps articulate the nature of the undergraduate experience. WOMEN'S STUDIES AS A MAJOR Those of us who stand outside the circle of this society's definition of acceptable women; those of us who have been forged in the crucibles of difference--those of us who are poor, who are lesbians, who are Black, who are older--know that survival is not an academic skill. It is learning how... to define and seek a world in which we can all flourish. It is learning how to take our differences and make them strengths. Audre Lorde Sister Outsider Since its inception, women's studies has aimed to provide curricula for students who want to concentrate or major in that area. A parallel and equally important goal, however, has been to influence the entire educational environment to move away from exclusionary androcentric perspectives and practices in courses and activities. The latter focus means that women's studies unravels the very idea of a `major' as a self-contained program with clearly defined boundaries and stable identity. One of women's studies goals is providing a sequence of coherently interrelated courses; a concomitant goal is dispersing itself among and acting upon other fields. Women's studies degrees, majors, minors, and programs are built from a variety of curricular building blocks. The infrastructure of most programs is a series of separate courses on women and gender grounded in and usually offered through traditional disciplines or departments. These cross-listed courses serve both the concentration and dispersion of feminist scholarship. Virtually all programs supplement cross-listed courses with `interdisciplinary' or `transdisciplinary' courses directly sponsored by the women's studies program itself. Even long lists of courses about women are not, however, sufficient to ensure gender balance in the curricula as a whole. Since l980, therefore, some 200 `mainstreaming' or `transformation of the curriculum' projects have been infusing feminist scholarship into a wide range of courses that are not necessarily focused on women or gender. Most of these projects are sponsored by internal and external grants under the rubic of faculty development. Essential to the success of these curriculum transformation projects is the expertise of women's studies faculty. Women's studies, then, has an unusually intense dialogue with other departments . At the root of the intellectual and political vitality of women's studies is just this philosophical openness to dialogue: a dialogue that already has transformed the knowledge base of most of the humanities and social sciences, many of the natural sciences, and, of course, of women's studies itself. As the women's studies program at the University of California at Los Angeles describes it, `Women's perspectives challenge notions of causality and periodization in history [and] the content of the Western canon in literature and art; they bring the concept of cultural diversity and alternative values into economy; they challenge markers of class in sociology and concepts of universal power and authority in anthropology; they reveal the role of psychology and medicine in medicalizing women's bodies through disease categories; and they call into question the given, the `divinely ordained', and thus the authority on which male political institutions rest.'(4) The commitment to self-reflection through dialogue has also transformed women's studies itself. Nowhere is the latter more evident than in the redefinitions initiated by women of color, whose critique of women's studies has significantly changed the analyses, paradigms, and terms of feminist discourse. The first women's studies program in the United States was formally approved in 1970 at San Diego State University. By 1977, when the National Women's Studies Association was founded, there were 276 women's studies programs nationwide. Today there are 621 programs, a 20 per cent increase since NWSA's last official count in 1988. Of these programs, 187 include undergraduate majors and 425 include minors in women's studies (5). Women's studies programs and departments now exist across the full range of postsecondary educational institutions in this country. A recent survey by the American Council on Education reveals that 68 per cent of all universities, 48.9 per cent of all four-year colleges, and 26.5 per cent of two-year colleges offer women's studies courses (6). More students take women's studies courses, however, than major in it. Of the 56 institutional respondents to a recent NWSA survey of women's studies majors, an impressive 57 per cent of the respondents enroll 500 to 2,600 students each year in women's studies courses. However, 57 per cent of the responding women's studies programs that have majors have fewer than 10 majors and only 30 per cent have 20 or more majors (7). The minor or concentration as a formal course of study continues to be the most flexible choice at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The number of institutions offering graduate work in women's studies has almost doubled in two years from 55 in 1988 to 102 in 1990. There are also currently five institutions that offer full Masters degrees in women's studies with several others in the process of being developed (8). Some women's studies majors actually require the student to have a concentration in another field as well as the concentration in women's studies. Student choices combine with requirements to make double majors the norm, not the exception. The NWSA survey revealed that 80 per cent of institutions with women's studies majors have at least some students choosing the option of a double major. At 54 per cent of the institutions responding, more than half of the total of women's studies majors are, in fact, double majors (9). Although there is great variety in women's studies programs and majors, we can identify certain shared principles and a range of topics that are found in most programs. Along with the central concept of gender as a social construction, most women's studies educators assume the authority of female experience in feminist theory. Consequently, women's studies emphasizes race, ethnicity, nationality, class, age, and sexual identity, as categories of analysis. Gender is always experienced from within this complex matrix. At the same time, and in constructive tension with this emphasis on experience, most women's studies educators assume as well the power of social institutions. While we emphasize the authority of women's experience, we also critique the myths of objectivity and value-free analysis and emphasize the ideological nature of all experience as well as of all theories, acts of interpretation, and cultural representations. Beyond the need simply for methodological connections among disciplines, exploring these topics requires--and teaches--dialectical ways of thinking that emphasize making connections of all kinds and holding together things that seem contradictory: an epistemology of breadth and tension rather than depth and clarity. The subject matter of women's studies is all of women's experience as it has been constructed and described for women and by women in a gendered world. More than simply a body of information, however, women's studies is also an approach, a critical framework through which to view all knowledge. Inquiry into this virtually limitless field is generally organized in the major to ensure flexibility, reflecting both the expansive nature of the field and the different intellectual interests of the students. The following composite emerged in separate surveys on the women's studies major (10): A typical women's studies major takes 35 semester hours divided among an introductory course; a series of electives equally distributed between the humanities and the social sciences and equally divided between courses offered by the women's studies program and courses cross-listed by the departments; and a final capstone experience either in the form of a senior seminar, field study/internship, or independent study. Increasingly, women's studies programs are adding a feminist theory requirement (38 per cent) to their major. They are also adding a requirement for a course on race, ethnicity, or non-Western culture. Ninety-five percent of the programs in one survey offered courses representing cultural diversity, while one-third of all programs surveyed now require some kind of course or courses on race, ethnicity, or cross- cultural perspectives for their majors (11). The addition of the feminist theory course and the emphasis on cultural diversity speak to the maturity of the discipline and its willingness to question the nature, structure, and politics of its own field. Women's studies instruction also typically emphasizes debates within feminism: the contentious history of the women's movement; the varieties of feminist theories; debates over biological difference and the relation between nature and nurture; the debates over the relation between feminism and other powerful contemporary explanatory systems such as Marxism, psychoanalysis, and postmodernism. INTRODUCTORY COURSES Women's studies is one of the very few subjects that is virtually never addressed in any form in high school. Most students come to their first women's studies course either knowing nothing about the field or possessed of many misconceptions about it. Sixty-six per cent of women's studies programs offer an introductory course and 84 per cent of those require their majors to take it (12). It is often the first exposure students have to the discipline. To replicate in the academic setting the powerful transformative effect of the consciousness-raising techniques of the early women's movement, most introductory courses include class discussion, written journals, and the sharing of personal experiences in an analytical context. The introductory course typically is organized thematically to introduce students to some of the key feminist issues such as identity formation, cultural representations, work, family, sexuality, violence, class stratification, and racial and cultural diversity. Studying such topics requires an interdisciplinary approach that teaches students to connect their inquiry across several disciplines. This inter- disciplinary approach frequently introduces students to feminist critiques of some of the traditional disciplines. Fundamental concepts of feminist theory and methodology usually are woven into the reading, lectures, and assignments. Because of the broad scope of the introductory course, it sometimes is team-taught or is taught singly by a faculty member immersed in interdisciplinary research and teaching; it also frequently employs guest lecturers both from within and without the academy. Three-quarters of the courses are still labeled `Introduction to Women's Studies', though the remaining quarter chooses titles geared to defuse resistance: Women in Contemporary Society; Perspectives on Women and Men; Women, Power, Property, and Identity; The Female Experience. Increasingly, introductory courses also satisfy General Education requirements, thus expanding the number of students and the range of political attitudes. In the process, it has made teaching the course often more difficult because of the open hostility to the subject matter from same students. In institutions with enrollment-based funding, the central place of this introductory service course is crucial to the resources allocated to the program. A few larger women's studies programs have begun to separate their `intro' service course from the major and create a new introductory or mid-level required course designed specifically for majors. Ohio State University, for example, requires majors to take WS 299, `Introduction to Feminist Analysis', based on critical frameworks and evaluation rather man on content, while the General Education introductory women's studies course (`Women, Culture, and Society'), often taken by but not required of majors, remains thematically based. Smith College has a mid-level methods course as its required course, and Miami University is moving away from requiring `Intro' for the majors altogether. Again, it must be pointed out that this two-tiered model, however desirable it may be, may not be possible for programs that do not have a comparatively large student body or other resources, and most programs must rely on the service course to provide the beginning course for their majors. MIDDLE: ELECTIVES All curricula for the women's studies major include a middle section in which students choose electives from an approved list. Common requirements in the women's studies major include: ù a requirement that some courses be in arts/humanities and some in social sciences (66 per cent); ù a requirement for at least one course on women of color, race, and gender, or global perspectives (33 per cent); ù a requirement for at least one course on feminist theories and/or methodologies (38 per cent); ù a required practicum or internship course applying feminist knowledge to institutions in the community or on campus (38 per cent). Only 26 percent of the programs offer all of their required courses for the major exclusive]y in courses with a women's studies prefix. A far larger proportion, 72 per cent, offer their required courses through a combination of courses sponsored both by the women's studies program and by other departments. Some disciplines are more widely represented in women's studies electives than others. Four in particular--literature, history, sociology, and psychology--are nearly universally represented, and sometimes offer several women's studies courses within a single college or university. In one survey all 45 programs listed some courses in the social sciences, with the total ranging from 3 to 42 and an average of 13 (13). All but one listed courses in arts and humanities with a range of 2 to 37 and an average, again, of 13. By contrast, only 16 programs cross-listed natural sciences with an abbreviated range of 1 to 3 and an average of only 1. Like the natural sciences, professional schools have also lagged behind in transforming their curriculum to include gender and feminist scholarship. Thus, what is available to women's studies students is heavily dependent on the cooperation, goodwill, and expertise of other academic units. This dependence on other academic units is a nagging problem; it breeds frustration for women's studies programs because curricular planning and quality review are very difficult. In Barbara Scott Winkler's study, for example, women's studies students were critical of being subjected to courses not taught from a feminist perspective (14). On their part, women's studies programs have difficulty establishing criteria and legitimate authority about which courses offered by other departments will be acceptable as electives for the women's studies major. Should any course about women be included? Should courses be required to incorporate a feminist perspective? How thoroughly must a course be grounded in the literature of women's studies before it is considered a women's studies course? Should the program approve courses or faculty members? If the course is approved, what happens if it is later re-assigned to a different faculty member? In an effort to set standards for its programs, women's studies sometimes is accused of threatening academic freedom or of ideological prescriptiveness. Because many people still see feminism only as ideology not as methodology, attempts on the part of women's studies to control academic and intellectual quality too often are perceived as unacceptable `advocacy', or as `merely' political control. Students themselves have identified another problem in women's studies electives. Many students, who would prefer to widen the frontiers of their own knowledge, find themselves educating others in women's studies electives about issues they themselves have already explored. Winkler found that students identified the lack of sufficient upper-level courses for those with some feminist sophistication as a deficiency in the major. Ideally, at least some women's studies electives, whether generated in women's studies or in a department, could have some kind of women's studies prerequisite, such as `Introduction to Women's Studies,' or some designated first level women's studies courses, to minimize repetition and allow for a broader range of discussion. It is important to note that our suggestion of prerequisites in women's studies does not mean that we think that some topics should invariably be addressed before or after others. Our concern is to prevent content overlap, not to require that students nationwide address subjects in a certain order. Problems with the availability and content of the electives that are the heart of the women's studies major have led many programs to press for increased faculty hiring, faculty development, or both. Programs are sometimes able to persuade departments to hire someone with women's studies expertise. The sense of cooperation and shared priorities presupposed by this strategy is, regrettably, not universal, and many programs must simply tolerate serious gaps in the courses available to students. Some programs, especially in larger institutions, enjoy administrative support for joint appointments shared by women's studies and a department, or for new faculty appointed full time to tenure-track lines in women's studies. Tenure, in particular, signals fundamental recognition of the legitimacy and authority of women's studies as an academic specialization and demonstrates a long-term commitment of university resources. CAPSTONE COURSE This is the part of the women's studies major on which there is least consensus and greatest flux. According to NWSA's survey, 57 per cent of the programs queried required a senior seminar for the major, while 38 per cent required field study, an internship, or an independent study. There is currently no real consensus in women's studies about the pur- poses and functions of a required senior course. The first seminars were modeled after the prevailing academic standard: individual research projects in a seminar context. For many students whose post-collegiate plans did not include graduate school, such a design seemed inap- propriate. Various programs began modifying the seminar. Some changed the nature of the individual project that was required, encouraging action projects or group projects, or outlining nontraditional projects like autobiographies or family histories. Some programs replaced the research seminar with a reading-and-discussion course on theory, as at the University of Massachusetts at Boston. While there is no current consensus on the best kind of the senior seminar or capstone experience, there is good reason to work toward some such experience. Sometimes the senior seminar is the only course in which the women's studies students are not dramatically outnumbered by students who are taking their first women's studies course; these women's studies students feel a need to spend time in academic environ- ments with their peers. Even more importantly, the senior seminar should be a course to facilitate students' transition to the next stage(s) of their lives. This goal is far more important than the commonly-advanced one of using a seminar to help students `integrate' their previous course work. Whereas `integration' looks back on the major experience, perhaps exaggerating its significance in students' lives, `transition' looks both forward and backward. As such, it emphasizes students' individuality and ideally asks students themselves to make and evaluate a place for their undergraduate major in the lives they will, henceforth, live. THE FEMINIST CLASSROOM AND STUDENT LEARNING Learning a new way of seeing the world is not like learning algebra or when the 19th Amendment was passed. Rather, learning feminism is a process--an ongoing journey that is, for me, filled with both joy and pain. Abby Markowitz 1989 Women Studies Graduate of Towson State University Women's studies has always questioned not only what we teach, but also how we teach. From the earliest women's studies courses twenty years ago to the current NWSA three-year FIPSE project on student learning, `The Courage to Question: Women's Studies and Student Learning', empowering students as active learners has been an unbroken thread of continuity. This commitment affects curricular decisions, influences how individual courses are structured, and determines the nature of faculty development priorities and rewards. It also frequently puts women's studies in tension with a university system that too often devalues teaching, advising, and faculty investment in student programming. In many ways the university hierarchy that propels tenure, promotion, grants, and public recognition imitates conventional, stereotypical divisions of male and female labor. Research is "men's work". It is public; it is national rather than local; it typically is connected to money; it usually necessitates leaving the `home' of the university to present research findings; and it relies on the mind, the intellect, and rationality. Teaching and advising, however, really are only "women's work": something done at `home'; something done locally and privately; and something drawing on the heart, feelings, emotions. Teaching becomes like raising children; advising and counseling students like volunteer work with the PTA or at the hospital; working with students on programming and student services like housework. Just as women's studies validates the worth of women's lives by virtue of the subjects it investigates and the questions it poses, it seeks to validate the worth of women's lives in the way it structures the experience for the major and the role faculty play in that interactive process. Nowhere is that clearer than in the feminist classroom, where theory and practice are tested with each class. Once again, the task of women's studies is to connect rather than rank research, teaching, counseling, and action. Women's studies values a link between the heart and head, action and idea, feeling and intellect. They are not in opposition but rather in dialogue: informing, correcting, enlarging knowledge in the process. To accomplish that complex integrative process, women's studies has sought to be self-reflective about how knowledge is conveyed and ac- quired. Feminist pedagogy is discussed at least as much as feminist scholarship in an effort to highlight the connections. With an aim to be participatory, experiential and empowering, feminist pedagogy typically seeks to foster dialogue, create a safe arena in which to express disagreements, and challenge students to engage with difference. `It starts,' as one faculty explains it, `from the radical act of taking women seriously and validating them'(15). There is much more attention to group work, selfdefined papers and projects, discussion, spatial arrangements in the classroom, methods of presentation, varieties in course assignments, journals, and invitations to tie theory to one's personal experience. By decentralizing authority, students are encouraged to assume more active responsibility for what they learn and how. Students are taught how to produce knowledge as well as how to reproduce it. Decentralizing authority also dramatizes for students that women's studies faculty are learners in the classroom as well as sources of authority and expertise. One faculty member says, `In teaching my first women's studies course many years ago, I found myself changing as I talked; I discovered the extent to which I had been in complicity with the system, male-trained into the system; I deconstructed myself and reconstructed myself through dialogue in that class'(16). Another explains, `The discomfort that comes from the withdrawal of white privilege in the multi-ethnic classroom is the most powerful lesson I've learned in women's studies.'(17) One program describes the ideal classroom setting faculty members seek for their women's studies students as one `in which knowledge is understood to be partial and contingent but not equally valid, and where analysis of competing perspectives is encouraged'(18). That same program also saw the classroom as needing to be one "in which students are encouraged to clarify their beliefs and values and to look at evidence, ideas, beliefs, and concepts that may be inconvenient for them to know"(19). While the women's studies classroom aims for a safe, hospitable learning environment, then, it often finds itself in tension because of its commit- ment to `competing perspectives' and to `inconvenient' pieces of knowledge. For many, the classroom becomes a source of discomfort and disturbance as well as nurture and affirmation. The responsibility of the faculty in such a setting is complex as they seek to help students negotiate their way to a new synthesis and in many cases a new sense of self. Women's studies students typically undergo a profound transformation as they claim more knowledge. They pass through an identifiable series of moments of recognition, just as Marguerite when she found herself `locked in' the library. Such insights are followed by moments of empowerment in which patriarchal frameworks and perceptions are modified, redefined, or rejected altogether and replaced by a newly emerging view of the self and society. The difficulty and complexity of this process a n d the degree to which it influences our curriculum and pedagogy--can not be over- emphasized. Breaking what feminist writer Tillie Olsen calls the `habits of a lifetime' is no trivial matter. It is accompanied by the full range of human resistance, by continual attraction and repulsion, denial and recognition, as the release of anger or the self-indulgence of viewing oneself as a victim or a victimizer are gradually replaced by an ability to live, work, and think within conditions of tension and contradiction necessary to a productive life in a world with unequal arrangements of power. One student described the process this way: `Women's studies is difficult--not simply because it is a rigorous academic discipline, but because it arouses a myriad of contradictory feelings: anger, delight, frustration, affirmation, sorrow, and joy . . . When you are learning to reorganize your entire vision of the world, it is essential to have friends who are on the same journey'(20). Because such moments are inextricably a part of being a women's studies major, the task of the faculty in facilitating the movement to some new integration of knowledge and experience is especially demanding. It involves, for the faculty members as it does for students, the imperative to connect the felt experience with the analytic theory in order to understand both. In a comparative study in which students evaluated their learning experiences in their majors, women's studies classes were rated the highest of the eleven majors in ten out of fourteen questions (21). Students repeatedly refer to their classroom experiences in women's studies as being vital to their perceptions of themselves as learners. In one survey, students overwhelmingly saw women's studies `as an intellectual discipline providing them with information they had not received elsewhere ...and a new, critical way of thinking that nevertheless also validated them as perceivers and knowers'(22). Many spoke of `the painfulness of coming to recognition of the reality of oppression and the burnout that students and faculty active in their programs often experience'. Beyond the pain or alongside of it, however, was the more frequently expressed feeling of validation. As one student commented, `I felt like more pieces of me got to be there', while another said, `It felt like coming home . . . and I felt affirmed somehow, that all this stuff I was carrying around in my head was indeed real, that it was there'. For others, the profound effect is captured by one student's comment: `It changed my life.' Overall, they agree with the student who argued that women's studies classes `were more rigorous than those found in more traditional disciplines, precisely because they demanded more self-exploration and questioning of received information'. In a powerful Student Plenary Session, `Journeys in Our Lives: Learning Feminism,' at the June, 1989, NWSA National Conference, five students attested to the power of women's studies to train its students to critique themselves and their world (23). As Abby Markowitz put it, `What I found in women's studies was a body of knowledge that taught me to question not only the answers, but also the questions as well'. MyKela Loury asserted, `I proclaim that I will be a change agent in this racist and sexist society . . .I am eighteen, a junior at Spelman, and I am not finished yet'. They, as had students in the Winkler study, also challenged women's studies to come to terms more fully with race in the curriculum and racism in the university. Forty-year-old Eden Torres, a double major in Chicano Studies and women's studies, expressed impatience with the reluctance of many faculty to learn about her culture. `Take time', she urged white faculty and students, `to learn the history of all people of color'. The enterprise of women's studies is, like the best of education, a multifaceted one. More than establishing a sequence of courses, outlining a subject area, or positing fresh critical frameworks, women's studies is about personal and intellectual growth, both for the faculty and for the students. It is about being attentive to and creative about the classroom climates and methods that enhance learning. It empowers male and female students to become active learners and social change agents. As students learn to validate their own inner voices, they also learn to respect the inner voices of others, others whose skin color, sexual orien- tation, or political views may differ from their own. By providing students with analytical frameworks in which to view knowledge and the courage to trust their own personal experiences, women's studies helps the Marguerites of the world, trapped in the institutional structures of knowledge, to find a safe way to get home again. Our hope is that in the process she and others will eventually work to make all places safe: places where, male or female, lesbian or heterosexual, white or black, old or young, affluent or poor, everyone can move in and out freely and without fearing harm. RECOMMENDATIONS 1. Free women's studies programs from institutional constraints that weaken curricular offerings. Too often programs lack resources to offer a full and balanced range of elective courses. The most substantial remedy can be achieved by hiring faculty with expertise in women's studies . In addition to dispensing faculty members throughout various departments, women's studies as an academic unit must secure full tenure lines and/or joint appointments so that core courses can be guaranteed. Inconsistent, unpredictable staffing has hampered programs faculty of which must too often rely on visiting professors part time faculty and the good will of other departments. 2. Increase the overall budget in women's studies programs. Reallocating university resources will reduce the problem of curriculum constraints by providing funding to `borrow' faculty from other departments, offering faculty development or research grants, sponsoring lecture series and institutes, and allocating funds for travel to conferences. 3. Identify specific locations in the curriculum where issues of race and ethnicity will be addressed. These central issues will not be addressed until there are clearly designated courses in the women's studies major that focus on the intersection of race and gender. Ideally, at least one required course in the major should be devoted exclusively to these issues and it should be taken relatively early in the student's course of study. In addition, the analysis of race, ethnicity, and gender should be pervasive in all women's studies courses. 4. Recruit faculty members of color for women's studies programs. Women's studies programs need multiracial faculties and student bodies, not just a multicultural curriculum. One of the most valuable ways to attract students of color is to employ faculty of color, especially in lead positions such as program director. 5. Enhance interactions between women's studies programs and ethnic studies programs or other programs where race is a prominent area of study. Such formal and informal interactions would ensure a greater emphasis on the crucial intersections of gender with race and ethnicity in our academic project. Programs might, for instance, co-sponsor projects and events, create cross-listed courses, and create joint appointments when possible. 6. Remove administrative obstacles that lock both students and faculty too narrowly within one academic unit. Inventive ways should be initiated to enlarge course offerings and stimulate dialogue across disciplines. Currently, students in one unit often are prevented from taking courses in another, or faculty tenured in one unit are prevented from offering a course that could be cross- listed with a unit from a different school, division, or college within the university. 7. Minimize unnecessary course overlap, especially among electives. Women's studies programs should regularly review discipline-based courses in the major to reduce unnecessary overlap and insure academic integrity. Such reviews ought not to be perceived, as they occasionally are, by colleagues outside the program, as some sort of ideological `police action'. Women's studies needs and deserves authority over the content of its discipline, and programs should devise formal ways to take respon- sibility for it. 8. Seek a balance in course offerings among humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and, in larger universities, professional fields. Substantial recent scholarship about women and gender is available in every field. Programs should be vigilant lest they become overbalanced in either humanities or social sciences, and neglect important work in the natural sciences. 9. Institute formal and informal interaction with teacher education programs for the benefit of both women's studies majors and of students preparing to become teachers. 10. Be pro-active about publicizing women's studies programs. Because of its current emerging but less visible status in the overall curriculum, programs need to be more aggressive about describing their offerings. Regular, one-on-one student advising about curriculum options is especially important for the women's studies student. 11. Provide an organization, or atleast a series of activities, for women's studies majors. Interaction outside of the classroom is extremely valuable as students address intellectual and personal challenges to dismantle the power distortions and exclusions in knowledge due to racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, and ethnocentrism. These activities should be student-led and student-run whenever possible. On some campuses (especially commuter campuses) and for some students (especially those with heavy responsibilities for families and jobs as well as courses), programs should be attentive to and creative about the design and timing of such support activities. 12. Design a required senior course or project specifically to help students anticipate the next set of life choices following their women's studies undergraduate major. This course ideally should be reserved for women's studies majors only, or at least have a majority of women's studies majors in it. If the institution or the number of majors is large enough, programs should seek to guarantee several upper-level courses in which women's studies majors are in the majority. 13. Offer students majoring in women's studies an option to do `applied women's studies'. Internships, field research, and senior seminars designed for projects that apply theory to practice are ways that the curriculum can provide this experience. 14. Structure a variety of ways through which faculty members can improve as feminist teachers. Some possible structures might include training sessions for graduate students who teach women's studies courses, peer classroom visits, mid- term faculty development symposia or teaching, or resource packets that describe innovative course assignments. ENDNOTES 1. Association of American Colleges, "A New Vitality in General Education, Washington", D.C., 1988, p. 14. 2. Charles C. Lemen, "Depth as a Metaphor for the Major--A Postmodernist Challenge," remarks delivered at the Association of American 76th Annual Meeting in San Francisco, California, January 11, 1990, pp. 9-12. 3. "Integrity in the College Curriculum", Washington, D.C.: Association of American Colleges, February, 1985, p. 24. 4. Dixie L. King, report submitted to NWSA as part of a FIPSE project, "The Courage to Question: Women's Studies and Student Learning," p. 8. 5. "NWSA Directory of Women's Studies Programs, Women's Centers, and Women's Research Centers", a publication of the National Women's Studies Association, College Park, Maryland, 1990, p. ii. 6. Mariam K. Chamberlain, editor, "Women in Academe: Progress and Prospects" (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1988), 137. 7. A survey of women's studies programs with majors was conducted by the National Women's Studies Association in the summer and fall of 1989. Compilations and analysis were prepared by Leigh Harris, Debra Humphreys, Astrida Levensteins, and Caryn McTighe Musil. Forthcoming article in NWSA Action, Vol.III, No. 4. 8. "NWSA Directory of Women's Studies Programs, Women's Centers, and Women's Research Centers", p. iii. For a fuller description of the women's studies offerings at the graduate level, see "NWSA's Guide to Graduate Work in Women's Studies", published in February 1991. 9. There are several explanations for the double major. One factor is career and employment concerns: while women's studies expands job possibilities when combined with more job-related preparation, like any liberal arts field, it does not itself translate into a particular job. Another factor is legitimacy. While women's studies still must struggle to establish its academic credentials, students are encouraged to have another major. Finally, many students simply discover women's studies too late. Only after having completed several women's studies courses and most of a major in another field, do some decide to add women's studies as a second field, a double major. 10. The composite draws upon the NWSA survey previously mentioned and on a survey of program and course descriptions from college catalogues, "A Survey of the Women's Studies Major," by Marcia Westkott and Gay Victoria of the Women's Studies Program, University of Colorado, February 5,1990. Forthcoming article in "NWSA Journal", (Autumn 1991), Vol.III, No.3. 11. Marcia Westkott and Gay Victoria, 5-6. Patricia Bell Scott of the University of Connecticut and Beverly Guy-Sheftall of Spelman College have completed a more extensive analysis of the status of racial diversity in women's studies curriculum. Their data from some 200 women's studies programs will be interpreted in a future issue of "Sage: A Scholarly Journal on Black Women". 12. Marcia Westkott and Gay Victoria, 5. 13. Marcia Westkott and Gay Victoria, 9. 14. Barbara Scott Winkler, " `It Gave Me Courage': What Students Say About Women's Studies", "NWSA Perspectives, Vol. 5, No. 4, pp. 29-32. Winkler was a 1986 Pergamon-NWSA Graduate Scholarship winner. Her research is part of a longer study gathered for her dissertation work at the University of Michigan. 15. King, 15. 16. King, 9. 17. Ibid. 18. Report submitted by the women's studies program of the University of Colorado as part of the NWSA-FIPSE project, "The Courage to Question: Women's Studies and Student Learning," 2. 19. Westkott and Victoria, 2. 20. Abby Markowitz, "Learning Feminism: Journeys in Our Lives," audio tape from NWSA's 1989 National Conference at Towson State University, June 14- 18, 1989. 21. As part of the AAC's examination of "Arts and Sciences Majors and Liberal Education", members of the participating task forces were asked to distribute student questionnaires in classes. In a compilation of the results, women's studies was rated the highest of the eleven majors in ten out of the fourteen questions and was in the top four rankings in the remaining four categories. Checking the column `usually true', students gave women's studies the highest marks for connecting different kinds of knowledge (89.2 percent); connecting course materials and assignments to personally significant questions (86.5 percent); identifying and exploring problems in the field in relation to significant questions for society (97.3 percent); exploring values and ethics important to the major (81.1 percent); and helping students develop an overview of the field's intellectual history (83.1 percent). Although the numbers of students in the sample was modest, the results echo similar commentary from students about the value of women's studies courses in their lives and in integrating knowledge. Unpublished study by Association of American Colleges, Washington, D.C., 1990. 22. Winkler, p . 29. All subsequent quotations in the paragraph are taken from pages 29-31. 23. Full text of the student presentations are in "NWSA Journal (Winter 1990), Vol. II, No. 1.