Faculty members meet to discuss women’s issues

St. John’s professors, faculty and administrators from different departments came together for an open discussion of their experience in teaching, research and interests in the Women’s Studies and Gender Program.

This is part of Women’s History Month, for which St. John’s has a host of events planned, including “Naming the Violence, Reversing the Shame: Female Activists and Truth Commission in Latin America and South Africa” on March 18 and the “Women of Distinction Dinner” on April 1.

Elaine Carey, associate professor in the History department, facilitated the discussion and began with an introduction of all 18 participants-17 females and one male.

“We have had a large number of hires [which has] revitalized the program,” she said. “[A meeting] is a good way to start having a conversation and making cross departmental and cross-college connections… to add to the [Women’s Studies] program.”
According to the St. John’s Web site, the Women’s study program “provides the opportunity for students to choose from a wide variety of course offerings, ranging from Asian Studies to History, from Languages and Literatures to Sociology, from Psychology to Theology and Religious Studies.”

Carey explained that the purpose of these types of discussions is for better organization.

“There are a number of events but there isn’t a central coordination with the students and faculty committees,” she said. “This way, we could identify each other to help coordinate events [for the University].”

The discussion continued with the presentation of various research topics that the participants have taken upon, the classes they have taught, and potential courses they would like to create.

Some of the topic themes included women from specific regions, different historical movements in relation to females, and violence against women.

Barbara Koziak, associate professor in Government and Politics and director of the women’s studies minor in St. John’s College was also in attendance.

She explained that there are about 10 students who have declared it as their minor.

She said, “We’ve been building it [the program] for the past few years and we would like to have first year students consider it and know how useful it is in terms of international jobs.”

Koziak added that women’s studies “cross departmental lines” because it covers multiple disciplines and the result is a connection of all different departments communicating with each other.

Additionally, Carey posed a question to the participants of what type of events they would like to have on campus in relation to women.

Roseanne Gatto, an instructor at the Institute of Writing Studies, suggested having workshops outside of the classroom setting “to help students think critically about what it means to write… and what it means to their audience.”

Others also suggested the different courses to be added and the establishment of Women’s and Gender Studies Learning communities.

Associate professor Judith Ryder also commented of an upcoming event in April that will raise awareness about women’s violence as “a time to reflect and honor” victims of violence.