NMSU women’s studies program changes name to gender and sexuality studies

In an effort to reflect national and international trends and the changes within the academic discipline, New Mexico State University’s women’s studies program, part of the department of interdisciplinary studies in the College of Arts and Sciences is now known as gender and sexuality studies.

Head and shoulders of a woman near a tree
Manal Hamzeh, associate professor of gender and sexuality studies, was one of the professors initiating the name change from women’s studies to the broader gender and sexuality studies. (Courtesy Photo)
Head and shoulders of a woman
Laura Williams, assistant professor and director of gender and sexuality studies, is one of the professors who initiated the name change from women’s studies to the broader gender and sexuality studies. (Courtesy Photo)

Two faculty members in the department – Manal Hamzeh, associate professor and Laura Anh Williams, assistant professor – initiated the move last spring citing the shifts and developments within the larger field of study.

“Our curriculum has always worked toward inclusivity and this name change merely reflects this sense of involvement,” Williams said. “Women’s studies is defined by commitments to social justice and the concept of intersectionality, the study of how categories of identity and difference like gender, sexuality, race and nation are interconnected and overlapping; gender and sexuality studies engages with and further interrogates these commitments.”

“The name change will hopefully signal the inclusive approach of the department that welcomes students identifying with all genders,” said Hamzeh. “That is, gender and sexuality studies is not about and for women only. It is for all students on this campus.”

The name change, which was unanimously supported by faculty in the department, began its journey through various committees last spring and was ratified by the NMSU faculty senate in January of this year. The program is the core academic unit of the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies.

“The name change reflects how the discipline and our program already do the work of moving beyond the traditional and narrower scope implied by ‘women’s studies.’ It responds to our students interests, career ambitions and needs,” said Patti Wojahn, associate professor of English and head of the interdisciplinary studies department. “Additionally, it will give the department more visibility and should enhance our ability to recruit students to the various degrees we offer.”

The women’s studies program at NMSU began in 1989 and has continued to grow over the past two and a half decades.

Wojahn explained this step aligns with the evolution of the program to a fully online degree at NMSU. She added the name change would help the unit to grow through collaboration with other departments across campus, making the program more competitive with similar academic degrees offered by peer institutions.

For more information please visit https://genders.nmsu.edu.


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