Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality

The study of gender and sexuality has long constituted a vibrant and engaging arena for interdisciplinary work and intellectual inquiry. At the heart of this field is the assertion that gender and sexuality are fundamental categories of social organization and power that are inseparable from race, ethnicity, class, nationality, and other categories of difference.

The concentration in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality (WGS) brings together a wide range of academic fields in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences (including history, literature, visual studies, anthropology, sociology, ethnic studies, political science, psychology, and biology, to name just a few). As an interdisciplinary field of study, WGS pays close attention to how social norms have changed over time and how they vary across cultures. The concentration also actively investigates the ways in which ideas about gender and sexuality have shaped public policy, civil rights, health care, religion, education and the law, as well as the depiction of women and men in art, literature, and the popular media. WGS courses are characterized by a strong commitment to critical thinking, as well as a spirit of open and sustained intellectual inquiry. Students may pursue one of two secondary fields: a general secondary field in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality; or a more specific secondary field in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies. Both of these secondary fields will appear as “Women, Gender, and Sexuality” on students' transcripts. The general WGS secondary field allows students to pursue a broad interest in studies of women, gender, and sexuality outside of their work for their concentrations. For the LGBT secondary field, students may take courses on topics such as the history of LGBT social movements; literary, cinematic and other representations of queerness; and political and theoretical constructions of sexuality and sexual difference. For both of the secondary fields, students take one foundation course in the history, methodology, or theory of gender and sexuality studies. The flexibility of the four remaining course requirements allows students to sample from the rich course offerings in WGS while developing core areas of interest.

REQUIREMENTS: 5 courses (20 credits)

Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality

One of the following: history foundation course (WGS 1200) or theory foundation course (WGS 1210).

Four other courses drawn from WGS offerings or from the list of courses that count for concentration credit.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies

One of the following: a history foundation course (WGS 1200) or a theory foundation course (WGS 1210) on LGBT history or queer theory.

Four other courses drawn from WGS offerings or from the list of courses that count for concentration credit.

OTHER INFORMATION

Students may petition to have one course from another department count toward the secondary field. Petition forms are available in the WGS office.

Students may petition to have a Freshman Seminar, a course from study abroad, or a course from Harvard Summer School count for the secondary field. If the Freshman Seminar or the Summer School course is taught by a faculty member with an appointment in WGS, the course would count as a “WGS course.” If the course is not taught by a WGS faculty member, it would count as the student's one non-WGS course; other courses would need to be drawn from WGS course offerings.

No more than one course can be taken Pass/Fail or SAT/UNS. There is no grade minimum (as long as it is a passing grade) for the courses taken for secondary field credit.
Students pursuing a secondary field in WGS will receive preferential access to limited-enrollment courses. Concentrators will be admitted first, but secondary field students will be the next preferred group.

ADVISING RESOURCES AND EXPECTATIONS

Students who are considering a secondary field in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality should meet with Director of Undergraduate Studies Caroline Light (617-495-1964, clight@fas.harvard.edu) or Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies Linda Schlossberg (617-496-9853, schloss@fas.harvard.edu), as soon as possible. Students should also inform the program using the Secondary Fields Web Tool in order to receive preferential access to limited-enrollment courses. Secondary field students are required to have an advising meeting with the director or assistant director of undergraduate studies by the end of their junior year to discuss their plans of study.

Please note: Students are responsible for observing the registrar's deadlines for filing secondary field forms in order to receive institutional acknowledgment of their completion of a secondary field. See the academic calendar to determine appropriate deadlines.