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Mission and Program Learning Outcomes

Mission Statement:


The Women’s and Gender Studies Department at Sonoma State University centers the vision of feminism as articulated by bell hooks, as a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression.[1] Our department enables students to explore the social, political, and cultural dimensions of gender and inequity. Our field empowers students to use an intersectional feminist analysis to engage in building a more equitable world. It compels us to envision and commit to transformative action.


WGS studies how gender structures everything from our innermost self to transnational circuits of society and economy. Feminist theory and practice involve a critical exploration of power, difference, and the production of knowledge. Feminist pedagogy is committed to knowledge as co-constructed and collaborative between professors and students with an emphasis on equity and empathy.


Our department utilizes an intersectional perspective, which means that we understand gender to be co-constituted with race, ethnicity, sexuality, nation, ability, and other forms of social power. We use an interdisciplinary approach that examines gendered identities, relationships, structures, institutions, and ideologies through social, historical, political, legal, and cultural lenses.


Our department fosters critical awareness and builds community. The WGS Department’s general education courses, lecture series, and major courses produce campus-wide transformative consciousness. Emphasizing the connections between theory and practice, Women’s and Gender Studies encourages applied learning through internships, service learning, cultural production, and research. This empowers students with the knowledge and fortitude required to exact meaningful individual, interpersonal, workplace and systemic changes toward a more just and equitable world. WGS extends its legacy as a change agent through its faculty, students, scholarship, curriculum, service, and alumni.


[1] bell hooks, Feminism Is For Everybody (Cambridge: South End Press, 2000), 1.

Program Learning Outcomes:


The Women's & Gender Studies Department, through its Women's & Gender Studies major, minor, and Queer Studies minor has the following program learning outcomes:


1)    Intersectionality: Critically examine and articulate how gender intersectionally structures identities, interactions, structures, and systems in relation to race, class, sexuality, ability, nation, and other forms of power and difference.  (SSU Core Value: Diversity and Social Justice)


2)    Institutionalization of Gender: Identify how and why gender is embedded in and influences culture and major social institutions and systems such as: family, health care, law, education, religion, the workplace, the media, settler colonialism, carceral systems, white supremacy, the nation-state, transnational capitalism. (SSU Core Values: Diversity and Social Justice; Connectivity and Community Engagement)


3)    Power and Justice: Demonstrate how people have critiqued, navigated, resisted, and sought to transcend dominant formations of social constructions of gender in different historical and cultural contexts– from the level of the personal to the transnational. (SSU Core Values: Diversity and Social Justice; Adaptability and Responsiveness)


4)    Feminist Thought and Communication: Engage in feminist oral, written, and digital communication skills to speak and act collaboratively across social difference, appreciate complex phenomena through multiple lenses, and effectively facilitate challenging conversations.  Evaluate feminist research, knowledge production, and theory.  Design and conduct community-based research using feminist methodologies. (SSU Core Values: Diversity and Social Justice; Connectivity and Community Engagement)


5)    Feminist Praxis: Participate in feminist praxis that joins theory, research, and experience. Through a required internship, students apply themes and categories of analysis from Women’s and Gender Studies to their lives and the world. (SSU Core Values: Diversity and Social Justice; Connectivity and Community Engagement)