The Institute of Women Studies becomes the Institute of Feminist and Gender Studies

The Faculty of Social Sciences is pleased to announce that the Institute of Women’s Studies has now become the Institute of Feminist and Gender Studies. Effective immediately, this change builds on several years of efforts and consultation with professors, students and staff to reposition the Institute and capture the rich diversity of faculty and student research interests.

What’s in a name, you might ask? As we quickly discovered, through our collective efforts at the Institute, quite a fair bit. The new name reflects cutting-edge developments in this expanding field of study, which is today producing vibrant and far-reaching feminist critiques of gender. At the Institute, we recognize the need to connect the study of gender to frameworks and approaches that reflect the diversity of the field, including disability, indigenous, intersectional, queer and trans perspectives. We believe our new name accomplishes this.

The Institute of Feminist and Gender Studies underwent a process of substantial renewal in the past few years.  In 2008, its stand-alone M.A. and Ph.D. programs were approved, setting the stage for a first cohort of graduate students. In 2012, the Institute revamped its undergraduate curriculum to include three new streams: Feminism and Transnationalism, Intersectional Feminist Analysis, and Gender, Bodies and Sexualities, and hired two additional tenure-track faculty members. Within this context, faculty members, graduate students and affiliated faculty at the Institute began a process of consultation, reflection and debate on the name of the Institute. Graduate students, in particular, expressed a strong interest in having a degree that reflected their own expanded interests in issues related to gender, queer, and indigenous identities. 
"The direction the Institute is taking speaks greatly to the work being accomplished by researchers, students and staff. Theoretically broad, the revamped programs address new and pressing issues in women's studies and the name change reflects this new reality. It’s cutting edge and exciting; I think students will be happy to see what the Institute has in store for them!" (Heather Hillsburg, the Institute’s first Ph.D. graduate)

Heather Hillsburg poses in front of the FSS building

Our feminist roots are the necessary starting point for the study of gender. Our new name also positions us as part of a wider, bilingual feminist community outside the university walls. The wide range of courses available in our undergraduate and graduate programs is indicative of both a rich feminist history and a contemporary sensibility. With courses such as Feminist Theories offered alongside courses such as Queer Theories, Gender and Globalization in a Transnational World, Anti-Colonial and Anti-Racist Feminisms, or Sexuality, Gender and Popular Culture, our name change and courses are representative of an inclusive way of thinking productively about how gendered categories are created, maintained, or reproduced.

For questions related to the Institute name change or program changes, please contact fem@uOttawa.ca.

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