March 23, 2012
A minor in Women’s Studies was first offered at Elon in the Fall of 1988 after having been approved during a February 1988 faculty meeting. In the mid-1980s Elon professors, Dr. Seena Granowsky and Dr. Martha Smith attended a conference on Women’s Studies programs at Duke University and were inspired to create a program at Elon. The two worked together to create the minor and the program of Women’s Studies in order to expose students to women’s issues through courses in English, History, Philosophy, Economics, and other related fields. Some examples of early course titles included Introduction to Women’s Studies, Feminist Approaches to Literature, and History of Women in the United States.
Dr. Smith started working at Elon in 1963 as an English professor and retired from Elon in 1994. When asked about creating the minor Smith said that “We weren’t doing this because somebody up there who said you should go out and this; we did it because we wanted to do it, and because the students responded to it.” Smith became the first director of the program and held that position until 1994.
Dr. Seena Granowsky came to Elon in 1975, and taught in the Education Department. Granowsky became the minor’s second director in 1994 serving in that position until 2000 and retiring in 2005. Granowsky worked to develop and grow the program, hosted a major women’s and gender studies focused conference at Elon, and facilitated the transition of the program of Women’s Studies to Women’s and Gender Studies in 1995.
Today Elon’s Women’s and Gender Studies program offers classes that help students analyze gender, inequality, and sexuality. The program brings speakers to campus, helps to support a feminist student group, and sponsors programs such as a film series, The Vagina Monologues, and Take Back the Night.