Women's and Gender Studies


women's gender studies

Issues concerning women are crucially important in American culture as well as for the global community, raising questions concerning diversity, equality and justice. We debate about systems of oppression which lead to problems of access to education and opportunity worldwide, pay differentials between men and women, causes of and solutions to violence and abuse, women’s health issues, women’s roles in politics and business, the perception of women in historical context and a myriad of other topics.

At Alvernia University, you’ll have an opportunity to explore these and other issues when you minor in Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS). Since Women’s and Gender Studies is a discipline generated from historical struggles for equality, social justice, and the promotion of underrepresented voices, it is firmly committed to the idea that theory and practice are necessarily interrelated and equally indispensable in developing solutions for contemporary issues. As a WGS minor, you’ll be exposed to the historical, economic, social, psychological and political factors that have shaped traditional gender roles. You’ll study contemporary concepts of gender and sexuality, historical achievements and accomplishments of women.

The discipline of WGS addresses how gender intersects with categories such as sex, race, class, ethnicity and nationality to shape identities and communities. It explores the connections between gender and social justice, and embraces the Franciscan values of inclusivity and diversity. The interdisciplinary nature of WGS also intersects with the mission of Alvernia’s General Education Program to equip students with the skills to approach problems from several perspectives and worldviews in order to recognize their depth and complexity.

Earning a minor in WGS can teach you to question the assumptions of yourself and others, and to recognize that your norms and values are not universal. You’ll get a better idea of the problems of both women and men, learn to understand [how gender is a fundamental structure of experience, and how practical concerns for social justice, equality and the eradication of discrimination translate to your lives.]

This ability to think, question, observe, learn and understand is a hallmark of the liberal arts education that Alvernia holds dear. You’ll expand your world view and your understanding of the human condition, traits that translate well to any job or career and can set you apart from other graduates.

The five main objectives that the Women’s and Gender Studies focus are as follows:

  • To provide a systematic knowledge of the multidisciplinary scholarship about the social and historical context of women and gender, in the U.S. and globally;
  • To teach the application of a women's studies and/ or gender lens and feminist analyses of culture and sex/gender systems can challenge traditional historical and cultural assumptions and claims of knowledge
  • To identify and analyze sources of power and oppression, including the ways systems of dominance such as sexism and racism function and have changed
  • To teach how gender, and its intersection with race, sexuality, class, and ethnicity is fundamental to the construction of identity and the organization of human relations
  • To support the needs of communities and diverse populations by fostering recognition and sensitivity towards others


Why should you minor in Women’s and Gender studies at Alvernia University?
Because at Alvernia you get all the benefits of an outstanding university education in a manageable setting with personal attention and unique opportunities that can benefit you as you move toward your career.

Small Class Size
Alvernia has an average 12:1 student-faculty ratio, with fewer than 20 students in most classes. This facilitates valuable, professional relationships among faculty members and students. In these small class settings, you get individual attention to help you excel.

Faculty Who Care
Alvernia’s faculty members aren’t just teachers. They’re experts in their fields who are committed to passing along their knowledge and expertise to their students. In small class settings faculty members become mentors and advisors, intent on helping you learn, grow and succeed.

Research Opportunities
There may be opportunities for WGS minors to work with faculty members on research projects relating to their areas of concentration. This collaboration prepares students for professions and/or graduate school.

Honors Program
Alvernia’s Honors Program for students who are academically gifted and highly motivated is designed to allow students to work at their own pace and to recognize and encourage academic excellence. Honors students interact with one another to exchange ideas and information across a wide range of disciplines and interests.

The Honors Program offers co-curricular activities, service opportunities and intellectual and social support to encourage students to exceed their own expectations. Learn more about Alvernia’s Honors Programs at www.alvernia.edu/academics/honors.

Get Real
Classroom learning is valuable and necessary, but out-of-the-classroom, experiential learning provides students with hands-on, real world learning opportunities that enrich your educational experience and are highly valued by employers.

You’ll have opportunities for experiences such as internships, co-ops, clinical experiences, field experiences, community service and campus events. Participating in these types of experiences help you stretch and grow toward your full potential.

Learn more about Alvernia’s Get Real program at www.alvernia.edu/getreal.

Study Abroad
Living and studying outside of the United States can change you in ways you can’t begin to envision. Students who study abroad typically gain immeasurable confidence and experiences they could not have imagined.

Women’s and Gender Studies minors have benefitted from participation in a Study Abroad program in countries including Italy, Spain, England, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Morocco, Palestine, Argentina and Mexico.

Learn more about Alvernia’s Study Abroad program at www.alvernia.edu/studyabroad.


WGS is a versatile minor that, in conjunction with your major, can prepare you for a variety of rewarding careers. The knowledge and skills you’ll develop can help you to find employment in education, healthcare, business, government and the non-profit sector. Women's and Gender Studies’ emphasis on marginalization and social justice can enhance students’ abilities to identify issues that affect diverse populations and can aid in the development of community-oriented leadership skills. Students gain experience in social critique and analysis.

As a WGS minor, you can take courses in the arts, history, psychology, criminal justice, sociology and other fields, helping to prepare you for various types of jobs. With proper planning, a minor in WGS will complement your major and make you a viable and competitive candidate for jobs.

Alvernia WGS graduates work in a wide range of fields in jobs such as journalists, politicians or political assistants, lawyers, health care providers, counselors, researchers, teachers and business managers. Some have started their own businesses, while others choose to work in the public sector.

For more information about Alvernia’s WGS program contact the Admissions Office at 1-888-ALVERNIA or 610-796-8269 or admissions@alvernia.edu.


All Alvernia students must successfully complete a minimum of 123 semester credits to receive a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree. You must successfully complete 18 credits to earn a minor in WGS.

All WGS minors must complete:
PHI 250 Feminist and Gender Theory

Choose 9-15 credits from:
MUS 331 Women in the Arts
HIS 230 Women in History
PSY 308 The Psychology of Gender
ENG 216 Women in Literature
SOC 411 Men and Women in Society
CJ 216 Women and the Criminal Justice System
THE 300 Marriage and Sexuality
SPECIAL TOPICS (identified by the instructor and approved by the WGS coordinator as specifically pertaining to the field of Women’s and Gender Studies)

Choose no more than 6 credits from:
CJ 218 Multicultural Issues in Criminal Justice
CJ 411 Domestic Violence
MUS 222 Multicultural Music
PHI 420 Social and Political Philosophy
PSY 215 Multicultural Issues in Psychology
PSY 220 Close Relationships
SSC 321 Global Society
SW 202 Social Services to Children
SW 203 The Process of Aging

You can learn more about all courses offered by Alvernia University by viewing the 2015-2016 Academic Course Catalogue at http://www.alvernia.edu/academics/catalogs/Catalog_2015-16/index.html.

Your Real World Learning Experience
Alvernia believes that real world experience is extremely important, as it can improve your confidence and introduce you to professionals in your intended field of employment. All Alvernia students participate in service learning, a teaching and learning experience that enables students to get real-world learning while benefiting a community partner. As a WGS minor, you might be involved with a community partner that strives to promote social justice, or volunteer with an organization that supports women who are in crisis.

Alvernia students, including WGS minors, also are encouraged to spend a semester at The Washington Center, an organization that offers residential academic programs and internships in the nation’s capital.

If you participate in The Washington Center program, you can gain practical experience by working in a Congressional office; government agency; religious institution; or an agency devoted to legal affairs, international relations or business and economic issues. Or, you may have an opportunity to intern with a non-profit organization that addresses women’s issues, social concerns, the arts, education, science or labor relations.

You can learn more about the Washington Center and opportunities available there at www.alvernia.edu/about/ethics-and-leadership/washington.html. Also, you can find out more about real world learning at www.alvernia.edu/academics/experiential_learning.

Research Opportunities
Research is a valuable aspect of any education. As a WGS minor, there may be opportunities for you to work with your academic advisor or a faculty member to identify and assist in a research project, or to benefit from knowledge gained through faculty research.

The Honors Program
If you’re academically gifted and highly motivated, you may want to learn more about Alvernia’s Undergraduate Honors Program. Honors students have opportunities to take courses dealing with unusual topics and participate in a variety of activities. You can learn more about the Honors Program and how to apply at www.alvernia.edu/academics/honors/index.html.

The Eight-Semester Plan
You can do it! It’s easy to stay on track to graduate in four years if you pay close attention to what classes you need and make sure to take them in a timely manner. Advisors are available to assist in planning academic programs, course selection and registration, but it’s your job to make sure that you meet all academic requirements and comply with University policies.

Start planning well in advance for an internship, study abroad or other off-campus experience, as you’ll need to assure that you will be able to complete all required coursework.

Study Opportunities beyond Campus
Your college years are the perfect time to broaden your horizons and participate in experiences that will change your life. Alvernia offers some great opportunities for students who want to spend some time studying beyond its campus.

In addition to spending a semester at the Washington Center, you might want to consider a semester abroad. Depending on your major and academic schedule, you could consider spending a semester at a college or university outside of the United States that has a strong women’s studies program. Studying abroad not only enriches your academic life, but promotes understanding of different cultures and encourages new personal skills and achievements.

Study Abroad Programs
Alvernia’s Study Abroad Office works closely with students who want to spend one or more semesters in a different country. WGS minors have studied and traveled in Italy, Spain, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, England, Germany, Greece, Belgium and Austria.

You pay the regular Alvernia tuition while studying abroad, and continue to receive financial aid, if applicable. Credits earned count toward your Alvernia undergraduate degree.

If you’re interested in studying in another country you should start planning early, as you’ll need to start the application process about a year in advance.

You can get more information about these programs from the Study Abroad Office at www.alvernia.edu/studyabroad or by contacting studyabroad@alvernia.edu.

Year-by-Year Major Map


Think Globally

  • Explore opportunities for study abroad, alternative break trips, pilgrimage to Assisi, the Washington Center and service trips
  • Start at the Study Abroad Office or studyabroad@alvernia.edu

Take the Right Classes

  • Review general education, University, Major and Minor requirements
  • Be aware of which semester required courses are offered
  • Focus on getting good grades

Get Good Advice

  • Get to know Women’s and Gender Studies faculty and your advisor
  • Visit the Educational Planning Center on the first floor of Bernardine Hall

Real Life Learning

  • Explore opportunities for upcoming practicums
  • Utilize skills acquired in First Year Experience

Make the Right Connections

  • Identify peers that support your academic goals
  • Get involved by joining the Philosophy Club or Alvernia Sexual Assault Prevention Peers. Check out the Student Government Association or join some of the many other student clubs and community organizations

Get Ready to Graduate

  • Develop a working resume
  • Assess strengths, weaknesses and interests
  • Begin the process of obtaining all required background checks and clearances


Think Globally

  • Review opportunities for extended learning and, if interested, start planning with the Study Abroad Office

Take the Right Classes

  • Make sure you’ve reviewed which semester required courses are available
  • Focus on getting good grades

Get Good Advice

  • Talk to Women’s and Gender Studies faculty and your advisor about your career interests and how to identify opportunities that may enhance your chances of finding a job in that area
  • Stay in touch with the Educational Planning Center

Real Life Learning

  • Look into the Alternative Break program
  • Shadow in jobs that relate to your specific interests
  • Look for part-time or summer jobs that relate to your interests
  • Get familiar with the Educational Planning Center’s Internship data base

Make the Right Connections

  • Volunteer for community service
  • Stay involved in clubs and organizations
  • Observe the roles of those in leadership positions
  • Form study groups

Get Ready to Graduate

  • Update working resume
  • Assess strengths, weaknesses and interests
  • Complete the process of obtaining all required background checks and clearances


Think Globally

  • Participate in Study Abroad program
  • Participate in service trips or “May”mester

Take the Right Classes

  • Secure internship, if applicable
  • Focus on getting good grades and improving GPA
  • Work with advisor to make sure you’re on track to graduate on time

Get Good Advice

  • Talk to faculty members about career or graduate school opportunities
  • Stay in touch with the Educational Planning Center
  • Get familiar with Vault.com, a career services library available on Educational Planning Center’s website

Real Life Learning

  • Look into the Alternative Break program
  • Shadow in jobs that related to your specific interest
  • Look for part-time or summer jobs that relate to your interests
  • Get familiar with the Educational Planning Center’s Internship data base

Make the Right Connections

  • Assume leadership roles on campus
  • Connect with alumni in your field

Get Ready to Graduate

  • Get feedback on your working resume from the Educational Planning Center
  • Get resume ready for practicum applications and job fairs
  • Work on getting recommendations
  • Attend Career Planning opportunities such as job fairs and practice interviews
  • Look for coaching opportunities


Think Globally

  • Look for service opportunities

Take the Right Classes

  • Make sure you are on track for any required research or writing projects

Get Good Advice

  • Work closely with advisor to make sure you’re on track to graduate on time
  • Stay in touch with the Educational Planning Center
  • Talk to faculty members about career or graduate school opportunities
  • Ask for advice from professionals in your area of interest

Real Life Learning

  • Successfully complete your internship, if applicable
  • Participate in off-campus activities, such volunteering with an Alvernia community partner

Make the Right Connections

  • Continue in leadership roles on campus
  • Connect with alumni in your field
  • Attend campus events at which alumni are present
  • Meet professionals in the community who work in your area of interest

Get Ready to Graduate

  • Fine tune your resume
  • Search for jobs through Vault.com
  • Finalize recommendations
  • Attend Career Planning opportunities such as job fairs and practice interviews
  • Attend the Alvernia Job Fair

Alvernia is committed to serving the needs of its students. Whether you have questions or problems related to academics, life on campus, student activities, social activities or any other issue, there is someone available to help you. You can learn more about all student services at www.alvernia.edu/student-life/student-services.

Educational Planning Center
The Educational Planning Center offers advice and support to help you with any problems or issues related to your Alvernia education. It also assists with career exploration and preparation. The office is open every day and can be contacted at 610-796-8266.

Career Services
Staff members at the Career Development office will help you with any questions you have about exploring or planning careers related to your major and/or minor. They also will guide you about how to look for and apply to jobs as you get closer to graduation. The office also has a career resources library. You can learn more about career services at www.alvernia.edu/student-life/career-services, or by emailing career.services@alvernia.edu.

Financial Aid
The Financial Aid office is the place to contact with any questions you have about the cost of an Alvernia education and options for paying for it. Nearly all undergraduates at Alvernia get some type of financial aid, and everyone is encouraged to apply for it. You can learn more at www.alvernia.edu/financialaid/index.html or by emailing financialaid@alvernia.edu.

Admissions Office
If you’re interested in applying to the WGS program at Alvernia, contact the Admissions Office at 610-796-3011 or at http://www.alvernia.edu/admissions.

Faculty Members
Alvernia’s WGS program is staffed by dedicated, highly qualified professionals who are committed to sharing their expertise and knowledge with their students. Faculty members have extensive experience in various areas, and bring their professional expertise to the classroom. They often work one-on-one with students to enhance the student’s learning experience, and serve as mentors to aspiring students.

WGS faculty members are actively engaged in research, have written books and chapters of books, produced articles that have appeared in prestigious publications and presented nationally and internationally at conferences. Dr. Janae Sholtz, coordinator of the WGS program, was recently awarded the prestigious Neag Scholar Award for Excellence in Teaching and Research.

You can learn more about Alvernia WGS faculty and their impressive backgrounds and credentials at www.alvernia.edu/academics/arts-and-sciences/interdisciplinary/women_gender_studies/faculty.html.


There is so much more to college than classes, and students at Alvernia have some excellent opportunities to get involved in activities that are both enjoyable and provide beneficial, hands-on experience. Students who get involved and engaged in extra-curricular activities benefit both academically and socially, and open themselves to integral life lessons from beyond the classroom.

You’ll be encouraged to participate in a range of activities, including some rewarding and inspiring service projects. Some organizations and activities you might enjoy include:

  • The Philosophy Club encourages students to discuss, question and reflect through philosophical conversations and events that develop and grow communication and critical thinking skills. Club members explore various venues through discussions and trips.
  • Alvernia Sexual Assault Prevention Peers (ASAPP) is a group of peer educators with a goal of raising awareness and teaching students about sexual violence.
  • The Ethnic Awareness Society/Black Student Union serves as a network and supportive community to new minority and ethnic students while promoting a positive image of minority people. The organization holds events on campus and volunteers in the community as it promotes education and enlightenment to further tolerance on campus and beyond.
  • The Zephrus is Alvernia’s literary magazine. Published each spring, it contains original poetry, fiction, essays, photography and artwork by Alvernia students.
  • You can learn more about Alvernia’s Student Government Association, becoming a Student Ambassador, student trips and other activities at www.alvernia.edu/student-life/activities.
  • The Holleran Center for Community Engagement serves as a bridge between the University and the community. The Center partners with a variety of organizations to provide Alvernia students with opportunities to serve. You might work with an agency that houses unwed mothers or homeless families. You could be paired with Berks Women in Crisis or work with women who are staying at the YWCA. You can read more about volunteer opportunities at http://alvernia.edu/about/holleran-center.

women's and gender studies

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