As time for fall registration approaches, it seems that the Temple University course catalog is chock full of listings followed by the now familiar phrase, “cross-listed with Women’s Studies.”
A relatively new major, Women’s Studies is going strong, and its wide variety of course listings continue to pull in new majors each year.
Julia Ericksen, a co-director of the Women’s Studies program, first moved the motion in the collegial assembly of the College of Liberal Arts to pass Women’s Studies as a major. As a response to strong faculty interest, the major was created in 1978. Student interest quickly grew, and the Women’s Studies faculty had to rush to accommodate the demand.
“When we first started, there was just an enormous backlog of students who wanted to take courses. We ran lots of sections of Introduction to Women’s Studies and they just closed immediately,” Ericksen said.
Rebecca Alpert, the other co-director of the program since 1992, said that there are currently about 30 students enrolled as Women’s Studies majors. The department also offers a minor, which requires students to take seven courses. Alpert added that the name of the major shouldn’t be a deterrent to male students, as there are usually one or two men majoring in Women’s Studies.
Alpert said, a degree in Women’s Studies offers graduates virtually limitless possibilities.
“We have alumni who are lawyers and who are working as court advocates in the criminal justice system … Some go on to social work careers or administrative careers. Some teach. There is almost nothing you can’t do,” said Alpert.
Despite the wide variety of jobs offered to graduates of the program, Alpert said most go on to work in areas of women’s interest. One women’s study graduate even went on to start her own childcare center.
Alpert said that every Temple student who takes a course in women’s studies would strongly benefit from the program, regardless of his or her major.
“We want [students] to begin to understand the way gender affects everything that happens in the world, whether it is politics, or the way history is thought of, or how scientists do their work,” said Alpert. “All women’s studies classes also have a focus on race, class and sexual orientation.”
Alpert also said that because Women’s Studies is a small program, it relies somewhat on cross-listing from other departments. It is this heavy use of cross-listed courses that attracts many new majors to the program.
“People who are thinking of other things all of a sudden discover that they like taking Women’s Studies courses. Most of what we hear from our students is they just love their courses,” said Alpert. “[Women’s studies courses] give students a lot of opportunities to think about things they otherwise wouldn’t have thought about.”