Our History

The first women’s studies courses at the University of Connecticut were taught and designed in the 1971-1972 academic year by three women-identified professors.  While the courses engaged a women’s studies perspective, they were listed in separate departments and not yet recognized as part of a formal university program.  Thus, the official formation and funding of the Women’s Studies Program occurred after two years of persistent organizing, activism, and lobbying, all of which included calls for enforcement of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, negotiations with the administration, the federal affirmative action criteria, student demonstrations, community outreach, and a class action lawsuit.

After these various calls to action, the current Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) Program was established as the Women’s Studies Program at the University of Connecticut in 1974. The first formal program of its kind in the state, it was founded as a flexible interdisciplinary academic program devoted to the critical analysis of gender and the pursuit of knowledge about women. The WGSS program offers an undergraduate minor and major as well as a graduate certificate in Feminist Studies. The program’s faculty is comprised of core faculty and affiliate members from approximately 15 departments across five colleges.

Faculty and students in the WGSS Program explore the construction of women, gender, and sexuality in different social, cultural, political, economic, aesthetic, and historical contexts by combining methods and insights of traditional academic disciplines with innovations in interdisciplinary feminist scholarship. Our research and teaching illuminate the complex and changing local, comparative, and transnational processes that contour gender and sexuality; examine local, comparative, and transnational settings; and analyze the diverse narratives, structures, and patterns that shape everyday life, social institutions, and cultures.

Components of “Our History” were identified from research conducted by Aimee Loiselle