UCSB could soon become the 11th school in the nation and the second in California to boast a graduate program in women’s studies, pending a formal approval from a university council.
The Women’s Studies Dept. is awaiting a decision from the Graduate Council – an organization that sets policy and determines funding for graduate education at UCSB – about its recent proposal. Women’s studies administrators hope to bring the feminist studies graduate program to campus by 2009.
If approved by the Graduate Council, feminist studies master’s and Ph.D. degree curriculums would admit just five students to the program upon opening. After the program’s first year, administrators will admit a maximum of three students annually; enrollment will then be capped at 25 registered students per year.
According to Women’s Studies Dept. chair and professor Leila Rupp, the department wanted to create a post-graduate level program in feminist studies because very few programs of its kind exist at all in the vast majority of higher education systems.
“We are proposing the feminist graduate program because there is only one other university [UCLA] offering Ph.D.s in this field in California, and only ten in the entire country,” Rupp said. “We really feel there is a need out there.”
UCLA’s women’s studies graduate program admits between just four and six students per year, according to the department’s website.
Rupp said feminist studies at UCSB will be unique because it offers three major areas of interdisciplinary study.
The first, titled Race and Nation, addresses the connections between race and national identity within the United States and on a global scale, Rupp said. The second, Genders and Sexualities, encompasses the study of gender, transgender and homosexuality. The final category, Productive and Reproductive Labor, examines the concept of labor from a variety of different social and cultural perspectives.
“By reconceptualizing race, gender and class we are presenting this program in a very cutting edge way,” Rupp said.
Third-year history major Claire Marblestone, who is taking a women’s studies class this quarter, said she believes there is a demand for a feminist studies program with so many different directions of study.
“I think the program will be successful,” Marblestone said. “A lot of students on campus are women’s studies majors or minors and the department covers a variety of subjects that I think would make the program popular.”
According to Rupp, UCSB’s Dean of Social Sciences Melvin Oliver has committed to help finance start-up expenses for the proposed program, including the purchase of new computers and office supplies. The program will not require funds for faculty as it already boasts a staff of ten, which is one of the largest faculties in the field, Rupp said.