Mission & Goals

The Women’s and Gender Studies Department at Sonoma State University enables students to explore the social, political, and cultural dimensions of gender and inequity. WGS is the study of how gender structures everything from our innermost sense of self to transnational circuits of society and economy. 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 social structures, institutions, and ideologies of gender through social, historical, political, legal, and cultural lenses.

Emphasizing the connections between theory and practice, Women’s and Gender Studies encourages applied learning through internships, service learning, cultural production, and research. Our department’s pedagogy, curriculum, scholarship, and service foster critical awareness and build community. The WGS Department’s general education courses and lecture series produce campus-wide transformative consciousness, while our major courses further depth and engagement. WGS extends its legacy as a campus and community change agent through its faculty, courses, service, students, and alumnus. The WGS Department is central to Sonoma State's Strategic Plan 2025 Core Values of "diversity and social justice."

Our department and field empower students to understand and engage in building a more equitable world. An intersectional feminist analysis facilitates critical exploration of power, difference, and the production of knowledge. It also compels us to envision more just alternatives and commit to transformative action.

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

  • To train students to meet the demands of an increasingly ethnically and gender-diverse workplace;
  • To offer courses that document women's lives, the lives of people across gender spectrums, and critically examine gender ideologies;
  • To provide understanding about, and help bridge differences between women, men, and gender-expansive people across race, ethnicity, social class, age, sexual preference, etc.
  • To provide a model for interdisciplinary teaching, pedagogical experimentation, and the development of teaching skills;
  • To generate and disseminate new research on women and gender issues;
  • To work with other university and community gender-based organizations to effect social change that will mean greater equality, freedom, and fuller lives for all people;
  • To provide students with internship opportunities in university, community, and business organizations focused on serving women or advocating gender equity and justice

Program Learning Outcomes

Basic Themes and Categories of Analysis in WGS

  1. Critically examine how gender structures people’s identities, interactions, and experiences in relation to race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, ability, nation, and other intersecting forms of difference.
  2. Understand masculinity and femininity as historically and culturally specific social constructions situated within fields of power.
  3. Appreciate how and why gender is embedded in and influences culture and major social institutions (i.e., family, health care, law, education, religion, the workplace, and the media).

Learning Objectives Specific to WGS

  1. Demonstrate of understanding basic themes and categories of analysis in Women’s and Gender Studies.
  2. Describe, compare, and evaluate the major writings and trends in feminist theory.
  3. Use and critically assess qualitative feminist methods used in social science research, including advanced development of skills in library research and in-depth interviewing.
  4. Apply concepts and theory acquired in WGS courses to internships.
  5. Engagement in feminist praxis that joins theory and research to specific plans for individual and social change.

Learning Objectives Related to General Education/General Skills

  1. Demonstrate critical thinking abilities (e.g., the ability to ask critical questions about the theory and methodology contained in required readings and to then make connections between theory, research, and experience).
  2. Demonstrate oral communication skills (e.g., the ability to make an oral presentation to the class and to work with others in groups).
  3. Demonstrate written communication skills (e.g., the ability of students to develop their writing abilities, communicate effectively, and write for different audiences).

Learning Objectives Relating Theory with Practice

  1. Apply the principles of feminist pedagogy to student learning.  Feminist pedagogy requires that students become active participants in their own learning.
  2. Apply the principles of feminist pedagogy to students’ own lives in order to become active participants in the process of social, personal, and political change.