Undergraduate Program

``I believe in making a difference by thinking little thoughts and sharing them widely.``

J. Jack Halberstam

Undergraduate Program

The degree in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Columbia College, taught in cooperation with Barnard College’s Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, provides students with a culturally and historically situated, theoretically diverse understanding of LGBTQ and feminist scholarship and its contributions to the disciplines. Undergraduates may Major, Concentrate, or Special Concentrate in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and may craft a focus of their choosing to reflect the most contemporary or historically oriented interests.

The IRWGS program introduces students to the long arcs of feminist history and theory, LGBTQ studies and queer theory. Students learn to think about gender and sexuality in relation to cultural and historical representations of nature and power, and as part of the social construction of difference. Our courses encourage students to think about the body as a central site for the staging of social dramas about meaning and also to engage with wide-ranging debates on, among other things, equality, social justice, power, pleasure, governance, legal structures, science and technology.

All IRWGS courses present gender and sexuality as crucial to the production of race, class, and ability. Racial histories and narratives of class identity are always also part of the way we think about sex, gender, and desire, and these intertwined discourses produce seemingly coherent narratives of embodiment, health, morality, and order. In our classes, students learn how we have come to think about sex and how to frame of human identity differently.

Through sequentially organized IRWGS “Core Courses” in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, as well as approved elective courses in a wide range of departments the degree provides a thoroughly interdisciplinary framework, methodological training and substantive guidance in specialized areas of research. Small classes and mentored thesis writing give students an education that is both comprehensive and tailored to individual needs. Graduates leave the program well-prepared for future scholarly work in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, but the degree also prepares students for careers and future training in a variety of fields, including: law, public policy, social work, community organizing, public health, film, journalism, medicine, and all those professions in which there is a need for critical and creative interdisciplinary thought.

IRWGS Undergrad Spotlight

Morgaine Gooding-Silverwood

CC ‘15

IRWGS Major and Columbia College student Morgaine Gooding-Silverwood talks about how Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies has changed the way she views the world and how it relates to her thesis and studies on Mass Incarceration.

Ella Every-Wortman

CC’16

Sarah Stern

CC’16

IRWGS Major and Columbia College student Sarah Stern talks about how Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies has changed the way she views the world and how it relates to her senior thesis and her work with indigenous and native populations.

For more information, please contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Christia Mercer, at cm50@columbia.edubia.edu