Students interested in a degree in gender studies at the University of Missouri–St. Louis can now earn one. The bachelor of interdisciplinary studies/gender studies degree is expected to receive formal approval this semester, according to Ron Yasbin, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

“Having a program where faculty come together from various disciplines to teach and conduct research is a very high priority for the college,” he said. “The gender studies program will center around teaching and research in gender studies, sexuality and racism.”

Once known as the “Institute for Women’s and Gender Studies,” the new Gender Studies program has moved beyond women’s issues to explore femininity and masculinity as well as the influence of race, sex, culture and class on gender, politics, institutions and human interaction, according to Sally Ebest, professor of English, who took over as director of the program July 1.

“The name change and focus reflects a greater sense of inclusion,” Ebest said. “It will appeal to independent students who will now have the opportunity to design their own major.”

Several awards and 25 scholarships are available to students, and faculty are eligible for grants. Students can choose courses this semester listed in gender studies and also anthropology, social work, political science, philosophy, English, criminology and others. Many internships are offered throughout the community working with victims of crime, teenage girls, political organizations, public relations, cancer awareness and people in many other fields.

Ebest said the program will sponsor two conferences next spring. The first will look at race, gender and class in Missouri, and the other will deal with women in science. The keynote speaker for that conference will be Rita Colwell, the first and only woman to head the National Science Foundation.

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Maureen Zegel

Maureen Zegel