The Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies (WGSS) program at UNC Asheville began as a minor in 1991. The major launched in 2005. We offer a boutique-style curriculum with the major requiring just four core courses (Introductions, Feminist Theory, Research Methods, and Senior Seminar) and a wide range of choose-your-own-adventure electives taught in various disciplines (5 required, previous courses include “Black Women Leaders,” “Philosophy of Disability,” and “From Gospel to Gaga: The History of Women in Music”). All of our required core classes are Diversity Intensive (DI), which means WGSS curriculum centers intersectionality of identities, diverse representation, direct service, and conversations related to difference, inclusion, equity, and equality. Our WGSS program emerged from an activist tradition that privileges community engagement, so we encourage students toward internship experiences and support direct service partnerships with Our Voice, Blue Ridge Pride, and other local nonprofits.
Across the U.S. and on our campus, WGSS is a major that attracts greater student diversity, especially in terms of sexuality, gender expression, race, and first generation college status (datausa). A WGSS major signals to future employers and graduate programs cultural competency and intentionality toward inclusion, gender fluidity, and race consciousness. We want student work to have a direct positive impact in our community, and our interdisciplinary faculty are here to support the professional development of this generation’s leaders.