Critical Gender Studies
Social Science Building, Room 201
Critical Gender Studies
The UC San Diego Critical Gender Studies Program (CGS) is an interdisciplinary academic program offering students the opportunity to study gender, race, class, sexuality, and nationalism as intersecting categories of analysis and experience. Some basic questions that anchor the program’s core curriculum include asking how these categories become institutionalized yet change over time; how they work together to shape individual identity, contribute to the organization of social life, and become essential to the production of many different kinds of knowledge about that life.
The program’s core curriculum builds upon feminist scholarship of the last decade, incorporating the new interdisciplinary agendas, intellectual debates, changing methodological practices, and major scholarly shifts that have reshaped the field of women’s studies. Informed by the insights of critical race feminism, feminist critiques of conventional domains of knowledge, and gay and lesbian inquiries challenging traditional understandings and assumptions about sexuality, this core curriculum is designed to move students beyond simple binary descriptions and contemporary, popularized accounts of gender. Instead, gender is analyzed in the full complexity of its construction over time and in a variety of cultural, scholarly, and global arenas.
Students can expect to encounter a rich spectrum of approaches in studying these complex constructions—the majority of a student’s advanced work in the program consists of upper-division courses from the Departments of History, Communication, Literature, Ethnic Studies, Sociology, Anthropology, Philosophy, and Political Science. However, despite their important differences, what these approaches share is a critical stance with respect to the subject of gender. This stance, reflected in the program’s name Critical Gender Studies, refuses easy answers when exploring the social relations of gender and reaches, instead, for detailed accounts of the intricacies and paradoxes of power through which these relations are and have been made and maintained.
Critical Gender Studies prepares undergraduates for a variety of careers through the study of social, political, economic, historical, and cultural contexts. For example, the interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary course work that students complete as part of a major in Critical Gender Studies provides an excellent foundation for those students with career aspirations in law, medicine and health sciences, public administration, and social services. Students wishing to pursue doctoral work will also find that interdisciplinary training in Critical Gender Studies equips them with theoretical and methodological strengths in most disciplines and applied research fields. Specialists in gender studies are increasingly being used as consultants in industry, higher education, insurance companies, and personnel firms. State and federal government agencies require people who have special training in analyzing gender relations. Finally, educational institutions need specialists to develop and administer women’s centers and gay and lesbian centers as well as other institutional structures and programs.
The Critical Gender Studies Program offers two options of study: an undergraduate major and an undergraduate minor (or program of concentration). Because Critical Gender Studies is an interdisciplinary major, it is important to work closely with a faculty adviser in planning your program.
Preparation for the Major and Minor
All Critical Gender Studies majors and minors are required to take the Introduction to Critical Gender Studies sequence: Critical Gender Studies 2A-B, 100, and 101.
To complete a major, students are required to take sixteen courses, comprising four courses in the introductory sequence (2A, 2B, 100, 101), and twelve upper-division courses. Six of the upper-division courses must be taken in the CGS program; the other half (six) will be drawn from among the advanced electives taught within departments. Three of the advanced elective courses must be in the Humanities Division, the other three in Social Sciences. (See information on quarterly course list below.) All CGS majors will be assigned a faculty mentor, who will supervise the student’s progress through the program.
Quarterly Course List
When the UC San Diego Schedule of Classes for an upcoming quarter goes online, the Critical Gender Studies Program makes available a list of that quarter’s proposed CGS courses in addition to any departmental electives being offered. The quarterly list may be found at the CGS website.
The Critical Gender Studies Honors Program allows advanced Critical Gender Studies majors to pursue individual projects in the context of collective intellectual exchange with their peers and advising faculty. Students are eligible if they a) have senior standing at the time they begin the program, and b) are approved by the Critical Gender Studies faculty director and steering committee. Normally, students eligible for honors will have a 3.5 grade point average in upper-division courses taken for the major, but highly motivated students who do not meet this criterion may be admitted to the program at the discretion of the director and the Critical Gender Studies steering committee.
In the fall quarter of their senior year, students take the Honors Seminar (CGS 190), taught by a member of the Critical Gender Studies faculty. The first half of the quarter is devoted to intensive analysis and discussion of recent publications in the fields of gender and sexuality. During the second half of the quarter, each student develops a short thesis proposal and presents it for group discussion. While taking the Honors Seminar, each student also registers for CGS 196A: Honors Research, four units of independent study with a faculty member associated with Critical Gender Studies. With the guidance of this adviser, the student carries out background research for the thesis prospectus and selects a thesis director. In the winter quarter, students complete the thesis under the supervision of their thesis director in the Honors Thesis course, CGS 196B.
Students who complete the thesis with a grade of B+ or above and make an oral presentation have the words with distinction added to the notation of the major on their diplomas and transcripts.
Double Major in Critical Gender Studies and Another Department or Program
Students who wish to major both in Critical Gender Studies and in another department or program must fulfill all requirements for the Critical Gender Studies major as described above. A student must submit a double major petition for approval to the participating departments and the student’s college advising office. Critical Gender Studies will accept up to two upper-division courses that overlap requirements for the two majors.
Critical Gender Studies Major Course Checklist
During advising sessions with the CGS faculty director or staff, Critical Gender Studies majors make use of a checklist to determine how courses already taken fulfill the major’s requirements. An example of the checklist may be found at the CGS website.
Minor Program (and Program of Concentration)
Critical Gender Studies minors are required to complete Critical Gender Studies 2A-B, 100, and 101. In addition, minors are required to take three upper-division courses, two of which must be upper-division CGS courses, and one upper-division elective. Students who declare the Critical Gender Studies minor (or program of concentration) with junior or senior standing may petition to substitute an upper-division CGS course or a departmental elective course of comparable content for Critical Gender Studies 2A or 2B. Critical Gender Studies permits one lower-division course and one upper-division course to be taken P/NP. College grading options vary. Please consult with college academic advisers and Critical Gender Studies adviser.
Special Studies, Internships, and Grade Options
Many Critical Gender Studies majors and minors elect to do gender research under the rubrics of Directed Group Study (198), Independent Study (199), internships, and mentor programs. Because these courses can be taken only with a P/NP grade option, the number of such courses to be applied to the major should be carefully discussed with a Critical Gender Studies adviser. Some graduate and professional schools will consider it easier to evaluate a student’s transcript if there are more letter grades. College guidelines and requirements for grade options also vary. Please see college academic advisers and Critical Gender Studies adviser.