WGS Program Turns 25

Jennifer Smith
November 15, 2013

WGSlogoThe 2013/2014 academic year marks the 25th anniversary of Elon University’s Women’s/Gender Studies program.  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. Martha Smith

Dr. Martha Smith

Dr. Martha Smith became the first coordinator of the program and held that position until 1994.  Smith started working at Elon in 1963 as an English professor and retired in 1994.  When asked about creating the minor Smith said that “We weren’t doing this because somebody up there said you should go out and do this; we did it because we wanted to do it, and because the students responded to it.”

Today Elon’s Women’s and Gender Studies program, offers classes that help students analyze gender, inequality, and sexuality taught by faculty that are highly distinguished in their fields of study.  Although a minor, there have also been student’s that have chosen to be Independent Major focusing on Women’s/Gender Studies.

Dr. Kirstin Ringelberg and Joanna Rabiej Wayton ’11

Dr. Kirstin Ringelberg and Joanna Rabiej Wayton ’11

The program has developed strong ties to the newly formed Gender and LGBTQIA Center; working with the center’s director to create programs and other learning opportunities that explore the study of gender identities and feminism at the university.  The program brings speakers to campus, helps to support a feminist student group (EFFECT), and also sponsors programs such The Vagina Monologues and a film series.

Timeline of Women’s/Gender Studies Coordinators

1.   Martha Smith (1988 – 1994) – English

2.   Seena Granowsky (1994 – 2000) – Psychology

3.   Mary Jo Festle (2000 – 2003) – History

4.   Angela Lewellyn-Jones (2003 – 2005) – Sociology

5.   Gabie Smith (2005 – 2008) – Psychology

6.   Lynn Huber (2008 – 2010) – Religious Studies

7.   Kirstin Ringelberg (2010 – 2011) – Art & Art History

8.   Mandy Gallagher (2011 – 2013) – Communications

9.   Kim Epting (2013 – present) – Psychology

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