Q & A with Caroline Richards
I decided to major in GSWS because I wanted to know more about the historic and contemporary social circumstances that impact marginalized communities and how I play a role within these circumstances.
When did you decide you wanted to study gender, sexuality and women's studies?
I decided to major in GSWS because I wanted to know more about the historic and contemporary social circumstances that impact marginalized communities and how I play a role within these circumstances. I was also interested in investigating how to use my privileges to disrupt institutions that perpetuate oppression.
What was one of your favorite classes in your major?
One of my favorite classes in my GSWS education was Illness Narratives taught by Dr. Christine Cynn. This class was about radical storytelling and reimagining what it means to be a patient in a world where health and wellness have become commodified. As a former pre-med student, this class was one of many that helped bridge my STEM and social science interests.
Can you tell us about the Open Minds GSWS course?
One of my most impactful experiences within GSWS was participating in Dr. Elizabeth Canfield’s Open Minds course at the Richmond City Jail. The Open Minds program teaches VCU students alongside jail residents in courses on English, religious studies, gender studies, African American studies and more. Dr. Canfield and I even had the opportunity to present at the Philosophy of Education Conference on what it means to teach from a prison abolitionist standpoint and what that looks like when you’re teaching classes in jail.
What other GSWS initiatives have you found impactful?
It has been really cool to attend the GSWS brown bag lunch conferences where they bring in queer scholars/GSWS scholars to present on their work and/or research in a more intimate setting while we all eat lunch. I loved seeing Dr. Liz Coston present on their work with the Richmond Transparency and Accountability Project, a group that works to disrupt mass incarceration. It’s really encouraging to see GSWS scholars share with us how their scholarship translates to activism in their communities.
I really encourage anyone to take an introductory level class in GSWS. I can almost guarantee that after a class, you will add a GSWS minor or major. The GSWS faculty and staff are some of the kindest, most invested people I have met at VCU.