Criteria for WGS Courses

The Women's and Gender Studies Program is an essential element in the mission of University of Detroit Mercy, extending the mandate for respect of persons to those traditionally marginalized in society and in the academic pursuit of knowledge. Academic excellence is achieved only when all voices contribute to each discipline.

The Women's and Gender Studies Program critically examines the place of women and gender in culture and society. Feminist and gender theory is applied to traditional disciplines to analyze the origins and effects of power, dominance, and gender. Since women's issues and gender issues encompass and modify all areas of knowledge, and since such issues as race, class, and sexuality are crucial aspects of such experiences, the program will be interdisciplinary and multi-cultural.

A. Content Requirements:

Course content must clearly reflect and acquaint students with recent scholarship on women, gender, and/or feminist theory. The course syllabus should be composed primarily (75% or more) of works about women and/or gender. If, for historical or disciplinary reasons, the subject of the course precludes this, then the texts used should consistently be put into a dialogue with feminist perspectives.

B. Methodology Requirements:

Each Women's and Gender Studies course should have clear intellectual goals that integrate both the content and issues of the instructor's specific discipline and the overarching concerns of Women's and Gender Studies. For example, a history course entitled "Women in Modern Europe" class might have the primary goals of: 1) enabling students to use gender as a category of analysis in the study of modern European history, and 2) providing students with an understanding of women's roles in and contributions to the social, political, and cultural developments in Europe from the period of the Enlightenment to the present. In addition, WGS courses should critically examine the gender assumptions in the traditional methodologies, theories, and research of particular disciplines and/or explore the production of knowledge in the arts and sciences as it reflects, challenges, or creates cultural assumptions about gender.

As part of the WGS Program’s curriculum, a WGS course should also promote one or more of the Program’s outcomes, advancing students’ abilities to:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of the major concepts and issues of the discipline of Women’s and Gender Studies;
  2. Analyze structures of power, dominance, subordination, and gender roles and relations; 
  3. Recognize the ways in which gender intersects with race, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, nation, and/or other identity categories; and/or
  4. Use this knowledge to reflect critically and thoughtfully upon their own academic, personal, and professional lives, as well as their communities.

C. Pedagogical Requirements:

Although pedagogical style is not a criterion for inclusion, Women's and Gender Studies courses should be taught in a way that fosters the empowerment of all students and that equips students to identify and critically analyze gender relations and systems of domination so they can develop their own informed positions on issues raised in the class.

Procedure for Approval of Courses in the Women's and Gender Studies Program

Courses taught in all UDM Colleges and Departments are eligible to be considered for inclusion in the Women's and Gender Studies Program. Accepted courses retain their normal departmental prefix and number (for example, "ENL 2360" or "BUS 2480") but are designated in the online catalogue as counting for the Women's and Gender Studies Minor credit. The courses also are listed under "Women's and Gender Studies" in the catalogue.

In support of faculty development of Women's and Gender Studies Minor courses, the Women's and Gender Studies Program offers Feminist Teaching Grants (FTG).These yearly grants of up to $500 are awarded to full-time, part-time, or adjunct faculty members for the purpose of enabling those faculty members to purchase resources in feminist scholarship and pedagogy. Calls for FTG proposals are usually made once a year in the Fall term.

Faculty members who wish to offer courses for Women's and Gender Studies Minor credit should submit their syllabi to the Curriculum Committee. Please contact Patricia Rouen at to arrange the submission of your materials and/or if you have any questions. The members of the Women's and Gender Studies Curriculum Sub-Committee are available for consultation with faculty who are revising or creating courses for Women's and Gender Studies Minor credit. Sample syllabi are also available.

Suggested questions to consider when developing course materials:

  1. How are women and/or gender studied in this course? Are women treated as objects or subjects of study, or both? If both, how, if at all, is this distinction articulated?
  2. Do critical and/or creative works about women and/or gender comprise at least 75% of the required texts?
  3. Does the course syllabus reflect familiarity with current feminist research in the appropriate field? How?
  4. How does the course apply feminist theories, criticism, or methods to the subject of study? How?
  5. If the course is in a particular discipline, are scholarly feminist critiques of that discipline's traditional perspectives incorporated into the course? How?
  6. Do the course requirements encourage students to engage in feminist criticism and/or research? How?
  7. Does the course recognize the diversity of women and women's experience by consciously including that diversity (i.e. women of color, women of developing nations, lesbian women, class issues, as well as Euro-American or European women) or by acknowledging the particular limitations in scope, focus, etc. of the course?
  8. What is/are the overarching intellectual goal/s of the course? How do this/these goal/s integrate both the content and issues of the instructor's specific discipline and the overarching concerns of Women's and Gender Studies?