Goshen College's women's studies program will be 'women's and gender studies' next year

Goshen College changed the name of its women's studies program in hopes it would make male students more interested in the classes.

Posted on March 11, 2014 at 7:37 a.m.

GOSHEN -- One of Goshen College's minors will be a little different starting next school year.

The college is changing the name of its women's studies program to "women's and gender studies" to attract more male students.

Goshen student Roberto Lopez, who has taken many women's studies classes, said men want to feel more included in academic discussions about gender issues.

"Male students usually don't want to sit through one to three hours, or May Term hours, listening to how their gender group has ruined it for everyone else," Lopez said. 

As a friend told him, "men have issues too" and they want to hear those issues discussed.

But women's studies classes at Goshen aren't all about women, according to Jan Shetler, interim director of the program. The classes look at how women and men interact with each other.

Students' perception of the program needs some work, which is part of the reason for the change.

Shetler also noticed something interesting happening in one of her classes.

Only female students had signed up for her International Women's History class, so she changed the name to Gender and World History. It made a difference.

"I got a whole bunch of males in the class," Shetler said. "And they were a great contribution to the class."

A professor from a women's studies program in San Diego visited Goshen last May and suggested the name change after speaking with students who felt women's studies is too exclusive and narrow.

Shetler said Goshen didn't want to lose its 30-year history with the program, so the word "women" was kept in. That's in line with what some other area schools have done with their programs.

"The field has grown way beyond women," she said. "When we are looking at these issues, it's much more using the language of gender."

Hayley Brooks, another student in the program, said she'd like to see the classes look at some of the issues facing people who don't identify with either gender.

"I've gotten a better understanding of oppression," she said of her experiences women's studies classes. "I think a lot of men could benefit from the program."

Follow reporter Lydia Sheaks on Twitter at @LydiaSheaks


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