Track in Feminist Practices for Social Change

Introduction

pdfFall 2020 Flyer

The new Track in Feminist Practices for Social Change in the Masters in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program is designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to assume leadership roles in contemporary social justice activism and human rights.

Students will complete the thirty-credit track by taking traditional courses in feminist theory as well as courses specifically developed for the Degree, including “Social Justice Movements” and “Advocacy: Tactics and Techniques.” These core classes, in conjunction with a range of electives including "Gender and Human Rights and Gender and Development", will guide MA students to best cultivate their abilities to think creatively about short-term tactics and long-term strategies for social transformation. They will examine in detail the inequities and challenges facing diverse women, men, non-binary, transgender, and gender non-conforming human beings in the contemporary world. Students will complete their Degree by translating what they have learned in the classroom into social justice and human rights initiatives through placement in professional settings resonant with their interests, including in: units of the Institute for Women’s Leadership Consortium at Rutgers-NB; non-governmental organizations; and the United Nations.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS TRACK REQUIRES THE COMPLETION OF A PRACTICUM, NOT A THESIS. STUDENTS INTERESTED IN COMPLETING A MASTERS THESIS THROUGH WGSS SHOULD CHECK THAT SPECIFIC OPTION ON THE APPLICATION.

 

 

Core and Elective Coursework (24 Credits Total)

Students completing the BA/MA track must complete 9 credits of core coursework and additional 15 credits of elective coursework, as noted in detail:

CORE COURSES

The curriculum for the proposed M.A. track requires the completion of three core courses for a total of 9 credits. Two of the Core courses (516 and 517) have been designed especially for this Master’s track. The Core course listings are as follows:

Feminism: Theory and Practice (988:515)

This course aims to illuminate the interconnections of theory and practice by exploring particular modes of feminist activism and the complex theoretical issues that feminist praxis raises. The course seeks to foster an understanding of the multiple ways that feminist theory opens imaginations to the possibilities for inclusive democratic practices, and expands the repertoire of strategies for realizing social change.

Social Justice Movements (988:516)

When excluded by law from official institutions of governance and subjected to multiple modes of discrimination and injustice, many people turn their energies to the politics of transformation.  This course examines collective mobilization across multiple scales (grassroots, ethnic, local, regional, national, transnational, international and virtual) to create a different world—more attuned to more equitable distributions of social, economic, and political resources. Using both historical and contemporary examples, the class explores how these transformative efforts are influenced by regimes in power and influences beyond the nation-state and analyzes the conditions for social movement success and failure.

Advocacy: Tactics and Techniques (988:517)

Certain skills are essential for advocacy, regardless of the cause one seeks to promote.  This course will assist students in developing basic capacities such a public speaking, agenda-setting, issue identification, event planning, publicity campaigns, harnessing free media, group facilitation, social media mobilization, fundraising, grant writing, networking, coalition building, petitioning, lobbying, organizational planning and budgeting, consensus-building, and participatory decision-making.  Drawing examples from feminist activism and organizations across the global North and South, the class will prepare students for the demands of social change activism and advocacy.

 

ELECTIVE COURSEWORK

Students must also complete an additional five elective courses (for a total of 15 credits) from among the diverse graduate seminars in WGS and selected courses from cognate disciplines. Eligible electives include:

Agency, Subjectivity, and Social Change (988:520)

This course investigates women’s mobilizations to transform social and political institutions, which also transform women activists themselves.  Examining global feminist movements in the past as well as in the contemporary world, this class seeks to explicate how women’s activism and agency continue to challenge dominant discourses on agency, subjectivity, culture, politics, authority, religion, and society.

Gender and Human Rights (988:535)

The history and discourse of women's human rights. United Nations instruments; reframing of human rights as women's rights; gender-based violence; health; sexuality.

Gender and Development (988:536)

This course analyzes women’s location in economic development processes within theoretical frameworks; reflect upon linkages between the global economy and gendered processes of development; and examines a rights-based approach to gender justice.

Poverty, Inequality, and Gender (988:537)

This course examines the intersection of poverty, inequality and gender by exploring feminist approaches to theorizing, measuring, and experiencing the relationship between capitalist development and gender and race/ethnic inequality and poverty.

Feminist Advocacy for Women’s Rights Through the United Nations (988:445)

The course aims to bridge feminist theory and praxis through readings, discussions and concrete experiences at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and dialogue with feminist activists from around the world. A priority of the UN Commission on the Status of Women is women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work, including the challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls and an emerging issue being the empowerment of indigenous women. The course explores four broad themes:  global strategies for women’s economic empowerment; strategies for the implementation of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development; human rights and macroeconomic policies; empowerment of indigenous women and the contributions and insights of feminist perspectives on women’s economic rights and development in general and the possibilities and liabilities of the United Nations as a venue for feminist advocacy. The course will encourage the use of an intersectional lens to explore these themes. 

The Color of Aids: The Politics of Race during the AIDS Crisis (988:396)

In recent years, the visibility of people of color (particularly women) infected and affected by HIV/AIDS in the United States has sparked discussions about the influences of individual and structural factors in how people negotiate risk, protection, mobilization and access to care and medications. This course focuses on AIDS and the way it is represented in scholarly, popular and community discussions. One of our key concerns will be to discuss the role that race thinking has in shaping the representations of communities, the problems, and the solutions identify. The course explores cultural narratives of the spread of HIV among women and men from different racial/ethnic backgrounds, in addition to debating recent controversies caused by phenomena within the framework of contested social meanings of illness and deviance, or what Paula Treichler has aptly called “an epidemic of signification.” The course also explores linkages between how we imagine and represent illness and already existing notions of racial/ethnic/sexual difference. Discussions of selected moments throughout the crisis will help us understand debates about the meanings of race, from the designation of Haitians as a risk group in the earliest stages of the epidemic to current debates about African Americans makes as AIDS carriers and women of color in the epidemic. Discussions of gender, sexuality and the status of AIDS among African Americans, Latinas/os, Asian Americans and Native Americans will foreground the problematic nature of “culture” and “visibility” in health policy, research and care provision.

Women’s Global Health Movements (988:407)

Informed by the history of the International Women and Health Meetings (IWHMs), this course investigates the political vision and organizational structure for women’s health movements around the world. It contrasts early strategies driven by coalitions of activists from the North, which focused on reproductive rights, self-help, and a definition of health-based largely in the physiology of women’s bodies with approaches advanced by activists from the global South, which attend to the social, cultural, and economic factors that affect women’s access to the most basic healthcare.  This course examines how and why contemporary feminist conceptions of health are grounded in a comprehensive framework attentive to international power dynamics, globalization, macroeconomic policy, national and global poverty, conflict and war, and debt crises in various countries.  Beginning with an overview of women’s contemporary health challenges, the class then analyzes the political tactics and strategies women have devised to secure access to healthcare for themselves, their families, households, and communities.  Introducing students to the global institutions, organizations, and policies that impact health, course material also traces how women’s non-governmental organizations have attempted to transform existing institutions and policies of global health governance to enable women in all regions of the world to lead physiologically, psychologically, and emotionally healthier, more dignified lives.

Gender, Economic Inequality & Health (988:408)

Domestic and global economic inequality places significant numbers of people at high risk for health crises even as they are denied access to care.  This course investigates the “pathogenic” aspects of economic inequality.  It examines how systems of unequal resource distribution grounded in class, gender, race, ethnicity, nationality and sexuality contribute to wide disparities of health risk, access to health care, and clinical outcomes.  It explores how global trade and transnational migration affect health costs, health care delivery systems, and the availability of health care professionals.  By tracing links between macro-economic policies and access to health care, the course analyzes pathologies suffered by individual women in the context of structural violence, which is exacerbated by the intersections of gender, class, race, national belonging, and geopolitical power.

Care Work (988:414)

Nursing and teaching—two women-dominated professions—lie at the heart of the “care economy.”  Involving work that requires intensive physical labor, person-to-person communication, and spatial proximity, the intimate nature of care work resists mechanization.  In contrast to the production of commodities, the highly personalized labor of care is driven by human need rather than profit maximization.  This course provides an overview of distinctive gendered professions whose object of labor is the human subject.  In nursing and teaching, skill entails the effective exercise of professional judgment.  Focused on the cultivation and preservation of human capacities, this professional labor resists routinization and automation.  In addition to examining the distinctive nature of these caring professions, the course explores recent efforts to heighten the profit-making potential of the care economy, and it considers the long-term implications of efforts to deskill and outsource care work.

ELECTIVES IN RELATED DISCIPLINES:

Anthropology
Anthropology of Gender, 070: 511
Sexualities in Cross-Cultural Perspective, 070: 516
Anthropology of Violence, 070: 517
Power, State, Nation, 070: 518
Inequality: Race, Class, and Ethnicity, 070:527
Racialization, Immigration, and the Politics of Citizenship, 070:529
Anthropology of Human Rights, 070:537

History
Colloquium on Women and Gender History, 539:510
Protest and Consciousness: African Labor History in Comparative Global Context, 539:518
Seminar in the History of Women, 539:549-550

Political Science
Human Rights and the United Nations, 790:515
Gender Equality, Women’s Empowerment, and the UN, 790:5
Women and Public Policy, 790:591
Gender and Comparative Politics, 790:593

Social Work
Women, Work and Single-Parent Families, 910:542
Poverty, Inequality, Discrimination and Public Policy, 910:544
LGBTQ Issues, 910:559

Sociology
Sociology of Environmental Health, 920: 507
Domination and Resistance, 920:570
Space, Place, and Inequality, 920: 571
Sociology of Sexualities, 920:572
Race, Ethnicity, Inequality, 920:614

 

Completing the Practicum (6 credits)

Overview of the Practicum Experience (988:584-585, 6 credits)

In keeping with the professional orientation of the track, the Practicum will be the capstone experience for students as they complete their coursework. Over the past 25 years, WGS has developed strong working relations with a host of feminist NGOs, INGOs, and research centers and institutes, where we have placed Practicum students past on the east coast from New York City to Washington D.C.

Some students who possess requisite linguistic fluency have completed practicum placements in Ghana, India, Lebanon, Spain, and Vietnam. 

Others have done important work with the constitutive units of Rutgers Institute for Women’s Leadership, most notably, the Center for American Women and Politics, the Center for Women’s Global Leadership, the IWL, the Center for Women and Work, and the Center on Violence against Women and Children.

During the time period in which students are completing their Practicum Proposal, completing the Practicum work, writing and defending their Practicum Report, students should register a total of six credits: 988:884 and 988:585. Students cannot graduate without registering for all six of these credits.

Completing the Practicum Proposal (prior to starting the Practicum)
Once a worksite has been selected, the student completes a Practicum Proposal that analyzes the feminist issues that will be the focus of the Practicum. In consultation with the M.A. Program Director and a faculty advisor, each student chooses a Practicum Site and prepares a Practicum Proposal (5-7 pages) that indicates how the student plans to bring theory and practice together in pursuing a specific work opportunity.

The Proposal identifies the issues, questions, themes, controversies, or contradictions that the student hopes to explore through the work experience and research related to that work experience. The Practicum Proposal identifies the set of questions that the student brings to the work experience and the relevant feminist articles, books, films, or other primary sources that the student will use as resources in thinking about the central questions, including a systematic bibliography of feminist scholarship relevant to the practicum project. In addition to discussing previous experience or specific skills that the student brings to the Practicum that will assist in undertaking the work, the Practicum Proposal outlines the specific work that the student has agreed to undertake in consultation with the fieldwork agency supervisor and the faculty advisor. The Practicum Proposal also specifies how this engagement with feminist theory and practice will contribute to longer-term career goals. The Practicum Proposal requires a literature search to identify the scholarship relevant to the work to be undertaken. It also carefully maps the work expectations for and professional competencies required by the placement. Students typically devote approximately one month to the preparation of the Practicum Proposal. The Practicum Proposal must be reviewed by the Site Supervisor, signed and returned to the Director of the WGSS M.A. Program before the student begins work.

Completing the Practicum (180 hours)
Once the Practicum Proposal has been accepted, students may begin their Practicum. This requires a devotion of a minimum of 180 hours in the work placement in the agency, organization, or project pertinent to feminist activism and policy selected for the Practicum. While Practicum placements vary widely, each involves intellectual challenges, responsibility, creativity, and programmatic impact. General office assistance (photocopying, phone answering, reception duties) are not suitable or accepted for the practicum experience.

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.

Students must secure the Practicum Evaluation upon completion of the Practicum and submit to the MA Program Director. Students may complete their Practicum work with pay from the Site itself.

PRACTICUM PLACEMENTS

Students have great flexibility in choosing their practicum sites, yet they must work with the M.A. Director in negotiating with prospective practicum agencies to ensure that the work conforms to professional expectations and 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 language proficiency to complete their work assignments in the language of the host nation.

On-Campus Practicum Placements

Rutgers has an extraordinary array of research centers and institutes devoted to the study of women and gender, to advocacy on behalf of women and gender equity, and to the promotion of women’s leadership locally, nationally, and globally.  The track in Feminist Practices for Social Change is intricately tied to the central mission of the Institute for Women’s Leadership—fostering women’s leadership for a just world.  The IWL’s nine constitutive units and a number of related centers and institutes provide diverse opportunities for M.A. practicums, as noted below.

The Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) is the oldest and most respected University-based research center devoted to the study of women and politics in the United States. It organizes conferences and programs for women public officials, activists and scholars; it conducts research about women and politics, and it recruits and trains young women for political leadership through its award-winning NEW Leadership Program. CAWP is part of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Woodlawn, Douglass Campus. http://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/

The Center for Women's Global Leadership (Global Center) develops and facilitates women’s leadership in policy-making in local, national, and international arenas.  The Global Center promotes advocacy, organizing and research for women’s human rights and social justice worldwide through its residential training institutes and global mobilization campaigns on behalf of women's human rights.  The Global Center is located at 160 Ryders Lane, Douglass Campus.   http://www.cwgl.rutgers.edu/

The Center for Women and Work addresses the needs of working women by studying public policies in the field, conducting research on issues of concern, and sponsoring educational programs for working women, policy makers, corporate leaders and community organizations.  The Center for Women and Work is located at 94 Rockefeller Road, Piscataway, NJ 08854 on the Busch Campus. https://smlr.rutgers.edu/content/center-women-work-cww

The Institute for Research on Women (IRW) advances and disseminates new scholarship and thinking on women and gender, and works to strengthen the study of women’s issues across academic disciplines, as well as among individual scholars and activists. The IRW sponsors an annual research seminar, lecture series, conferences and discussion groups exploring path-breaking work in the study of gender and in feminist theory.  The IRW also hosts visiting scholars from the U.S. and abroad who come to Rutgers for a semester or year to pursue their research in the context of an innovative community of feminist scholars.  The IRW is located at 160 Ryders Lane. http://irw.rutgers.edu/

The Institute for Women’s Leadership (IWL) is a consortium of nine units dedicated to education, research, and public service. Located at Rutgers-New Brunswick, the IWL examines women and gender, advocates on behalf of diversity and gender equity, and advances women's leadership in all arenas of public life. The Institute for Women’s Leadership works collaboratively to lead activities in three areas: model leadership and mentoring programs for women; interdisciplinary research on women’s leadership; and serving as a catalyst and incubator for innovative programs and resources on women’s leadership. The IWL brings together the expertise of its member units to examine and promote women’s leadership in education, research, the arts, sciences, politics and government, human rights, the workplace, and the world. The IWL is located on the third floor of the Ruth Dill Johnson Crockett Building at 162 Ryders Lane. https://iwl.rutgers.edu/

The Center for Women in the Arts and Humanities (CWAH) advances research on the aesthetic, intellectual, and cultural contributions of the feminist art movement and promotes university-community partnerships with visual artists, performers, scholars and cultural-makers in the humanities.  It is located on the Busch Campus at 640 Bartholomew Road, #125A, Piscataway, NJ.https://cwah.rutgers.edu/

The Center on Violence Against Women & Children (VAWC) strives to eliminate physical, sexual, and other forms of violence against women and children and the power imbalances that permit them. VAWC facilitates a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach to research, training, and education aimed at eradicating violence against women and children. https://socialwork.rutgers.edu/centers/center-violence-against-women-and-children

The Margery Somers Foster Center is a unit of Rutgers University Libraries dedicated to developing co-curricular initiatives on visual technology and networked culture. The co-curricular programs promote expressive communication through the use of multimedia while challenging Rutgers students to engage critically with structures of inequality grounded in alternative accounts of race, gender, class, sexuality, religion, and nationality. It is located in the Douglass Library, 8 Chapel Drive, New Brunswick, NJ. https://www.libraries.rutgers.edu/foster

The Tyler Clementi Center examines the impact of bias, peer aggression and campus climate on postsecondary students who experience marginalization or stigma related to their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, race, ethnicity, nationality, religion/faith, and/or ability among other stigmatized identities/experiences. The Tyler Clementi Center is located on at 106 Somerset Street on the College Ave Campus. https://clementicenter.rutgers.edu/

The Office of Social Justice Education and LGBT Communities (SJE) provides educational, social and leadership development programs and activities for LGBT students, allies, and staff/faculty Liaisons for LGBT Students. SJE coordinates the monitoring of incidents of bias and hate through the Bias Prevention Education Committee. The Office of Social Justice Education and LGBT Communities also fosters all students' engagement with and understanding of the complex issues of power, privilege, and prejudice. SJE promotes students' exploration of modes of advocacy and activism in order to change the structures that exclude and oppress groups and individuals. SJE creates opportunities such as the Social Justice Institute to help students develop their leadership capacity in working with issues including but not limited to race, gender, sexuality, and economic status.

The Practicum Report (35 pages)

Upon completing the Practicum, students must complete 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, theoretical questions raised by feminist practice within the worksite, strategic questions concerning the achievement of specific feminist goals. The challenge of the practicum report is to bring together 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 uses the fieldwork to provide evidence to support or contest particular academic claims, or to offer suggestions for reframing or expanding particular debates, to develop concepts and practices that further feminist ends.

Students typically devote four to six weeks to the completion of the practicum report, working closely with their faculty advisor.  This is a 35-page (minimum) paper. Once the faculty advisor has approved the report, the student meets a final time with the three-member practicum committee to discuss the findings.

 

Potential Sequencing of Courses for One, Two, or Three-year Completion of The Degree

Students completing the track in Feminist Practices for Social Change must complete their degree work, write the Practicum Report, and defend that Practicum Report within the three-year period stipulated by the Graduate School of New Brunswick.

The course sequencing for a two-three year graduation period is noted below:

Year One



FALL SEMESTER
Feminism: Theory and Practice
(taught each fall)

SPRING SEMESTER
Advocacy Tactics and Techniques
(taught each spring)

  Social Justice Movements
(taught each fall)

Gender and Human Rights
(taught each spring)

Year Two


Poverty, Inequality, and Gender


Feminist Advocacy for Human Rights Elective at the United Nations
or elective

  Advanced Colloquium or Elective   

Advanced Colloquium or Elective    
         
SUMMER SEMESTER: 6 credit Practicum (may also be completed between years 1 and 2)

Year Three   
Write and defend Practicum Report for either an October or January graduation


Students may also complete the degree within one year, per the suggested sequence of courses noted:

Year One    



FALL SEMESTER
Feminism: Theory and Practice
(taught each fall)

SPRING SEMESTER
Advocacy Tactics and Techniques
(taught each spring)

  Social Justice Movements
(taught each fall)

Gender and Human Rights
(taught each spring)



Poverty, Inequality, and Gender


Feminist Advocacy for Human Rights Elective at the United Nations
or elective

  Advanced Colloquium or Elective   

Advanced Colloquium or Elective    
         
SUMMER SEMESTER: complete 6 credit Practicum; write and defend the Practicum Report for an October degree

 

Application Requirements and Process

The MA Track in Feminist Practices for Social Change is highly selective of students, not only on the basis of their academic achievements but also in terms of their demonstrated commitment to diversity and social justice.

Successful applicants to the Track must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.2 or higher and present a demonstrable dedication to feminist activism and advocacy.

The deadline for applications to the new MA Track is March 1, 2020. There is no early decision deadline.

When applying to the MA Track in Feminist Practices for Social Change, students should complete the application for the WGSS  Master’s Program. The application can be accessed here.

Students should meet the MA Program admissions requirements, along with submitting the following:

A Personal Statement (500-1000 words) specifying your past experiences, reasons for applying, and your areas of interest. It should explain your intellectual and personal goals, why you are interested in pursuing an interdisciplinary degree rather than a more traditional disciplinary one, and how this degree fits into your intellectual and personal future.

  • Applicants should stress their interest in activism in social justice/human rights as related to women, sexuality, and gender in the Personal Statement. They should address the following questions:
  • Why are you interested in completing this Track specifically?
  • What skills and experience do you bring to this Track?
  • How will completing this Track assist you in your future endeavors?
  • What are some of your goals in completing this Track?

ON THE APPLICATION ITSELF, STUDENTS SHOULD SELECT THE OPTION NOTED AS “MA TRACK IN FEMINIST PRACTICES FOR SOCIAL CHANGE.”  STUDENTS SHOULD BE CAREFUL NOT TO SELECT THE OPTION EITHER FOR THE BA/MA TRACK BY THE SAME NAME, OR FOR THE WGSS  MASTERS WITH THESIS.

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Interested students who possess these qualifications should contact Julie Rajan, Director of the WGSS Masters Program (vgjulie@womenstudies.rutgers.edu), to discuss the track and the application process.