Our programs are designed to provide students with a solid academic base for graduate studies and the credentials necessary for careers in the private or non-profit sector. Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies draws upon the theories, skills, pedagogy and perspectives of the humanities, social/behavioral sciences, life/physical sciences, and the arts.

An Open Letter from the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at VCU

We return to campus this year anguished but resolute, determined to resist the violence and visceral hate confronting us and our students. Though there are so many events, unfortunately, that we could write about, we feel compelled to speak out in the aftermath of the violence this past weekend in Charlottesville. As faculty and staff of one of the state universities in Virginia, located in the former capital of the confederacy, and in a city with its own shameful and brutal history of enslavement, we must speak out and condemn in the strongest terms the white supremacist attacks, as well as revisionist histories and false equivalencies between white supremacy and anti-racist activism that continue to circulate. 
We recognize that these abhorrent displays of racist violence are not the only forms of racism and inequity faced by our students, colleagues, and communities. Injustice manifests not only as torch-wielding klansmen, but also through more subtle expressions of white supremacy that continue to animate and coexist with white liberalism. 
We echo President Rao’s message on August 13 to the VCU community, condemning all acts of intolerance and reminding us about our core values.  As President Rao stated, we at VCU will enact our “steadfast commitment to strengthen our campus community and deepen a climate of honesty and integrity where all people are valued.” 
We affirm our commitment to collective and intellectual transformations and stand in solidarity with students, faculty, and staff on our campus, as well with those in the broader community who are most vulnerable but continue to struggle against bigotry and violence. 

Mission Statement

The Department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies (GSWS) is committed to social transformation. We produce and disseminate interdisciplinary feminist knowledge and theories, and view them as vitally connected to community engagement and activism. We critique the construction of differences as producing and reinforcing social, cultural, economic, and political inequities, and understand gender and sexuality as inextricably bound to other forms of difference. The GSWS Department began as a Women’s Studies Program in 1989 and was granted departmental status in 2007. To more accurately reflect our intellectual project, in 2013, we renamed the department Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies. GSWS introduces students to new analytical, theoretical, and creative frameworks to enable them to understand, critique, and transform themselves and the world around them.  Our faculty members represent a wide variety of disciplines and engage students from diverse fields of study in research, teaching, and public service.

Through teaching, activism, scholarly and creative production, and community engagement, GSWS provides analytical and critical tools to equip students for careers in a broad range of fields, and prepares them to engage in:

  • individual and collective transformation
  • critical thinking and writing
  • research drawing from interdisciplinary methodologies
  • political and community engagement and advocacy
  • analyzing transnational and global networks (recognition of the ways that we are bound up in global networks of power)
  • recognizing the complex interaction between multiple modes of difference
  • the production of creative work

The department offers a major leading to the Bachelor of Arts degree, an undergraduate minor, and a post-graduate certificate in Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies. The Department has particular strengths in race, racialization, and antiracism studies; LGBTQ studies and queer theory; postcolonial/decolonial/anticolonial studies; health and health policies; and research and activism for social justice change in the academy and the broader community.