The practicum provides students with the opportunity to integrate academic analysis of particular feminist issues with work in a feminist organization addressing those issues. As such, the Practicum is an ideal means to bring together feminist theory and practice.
The practicum comprises three elements: the Policy and Leadership Discussion Series, the work experience, and the written report.
The Work Experience
Each student who chooses to complete a practicum must perform 150-180 hours of work in an agency, organization, or project pertinent to Women’s and Gender Studies. The hours may be paid or unpaid. The work performed in the practicum must be comparable to that of a professional. While practicum placements may vary widely, each should involve intellectual challenges, responsibility, creativity, programmatic impact. While students have great flexibility in choosing their practicum sites, they must be careful to ensure that they have the requisite skills to successfully complete the work expected of them. If students seek a practicum placement in an organization in another country, they should possess sufficient language proficiency to complete their work assignments in the language of the host nation.
The Practicum Report
As the culmination of the student’s M.A. experience, the Practicum Report provides the student an opportunity to integrate insights gleaned from academic course work with challenges posed by particular forms of feminist activism, and by bringing together theory and practice, to contribute to feminist understandings of the issue being explored. The paper could, for example, examine feminist organizational or decision-making issues, substantive feminist policy or service delivery, detail theoretical questions raised by feminist practice within the worksite, or explore strategic questions concerning the achievement of specific feminist goals. The challenge of the Practicum Report is to bring together an academic treatments of the issue(s) with the experience gained during fieldwork. Guided by the questions the student formulated in the practicum proposal, the student should use the fieldwork to provide evidence to support or contest particular academic claims, to offer suggestions for reframing or expanding particular debates, and to develop concepts and practices that further feminist ends.
Each student should consult her/his advisor while planning the Practicum Report and submit a draft to the advisor prior to circulating the Report to the other members of the Faculty Committee. While the length of the Practicum Report will be dictated by the nature of the issue addressed, a typical Practicum Report ranges from 35 – 50 pages.
The faculty advisor decides when the practicum report fulfills the expectations of the Graduate Faculty and is ready for defense. The defense, which generally takes one to two hours, is an opportunity for the students to reflect on the practicum experience and for the faculty committee to ask questions about the final report and the student’s experience. Other members of the Women’s and Gender Studies Community may be invited to the defense at the Students request.