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The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh has received approval from the UW System Board of Regents to offer a women’s studies major beginning in fall 2009. The interdisciplinary program focuses on the status, experiences, and achievements of women and/or the analysis of how gendered social structures are created and perpetuated.

Currently the University offers a 21-credit minor in women’s studies; approximately 30 students are enrolled in the minor. The women’s studies minor at UW Oshkosh, created in 1974, was the first in the UW System.

“The primary objective of the women’s studies program is to provide students with a better understanding of the gendered experiences of women of all races, sexualities, and classes both historically and today, in the United States and globally,” said Christie Launius, director of women’s studies. “Women’s studies graduates are particularly well trained for positions serving women clients, such as staff for domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers and senior centers, as well as professional staff for women’s organizations such as the Girl Scouts and nonprofits such as the United Way.”

Women’s studies classes were first taught at the UW Oshkosh in the early 1970s. By 1974, student demand and faculty interest justified the creation of the women’s studies minor – the first offered at a UW System university. The program has grown over the past 35 years; in 2007-08, the women’s studies program offered 45 sections of core and cross-listed courses, with student enrollment exceeding 1,150.  Eleven women’s studies minors graduated in 2007; 28 students are now actively pursuing the women’s studies minor.

“The women’s studies major is consistent with the Governing Ideas, Core Values, and Strategic Directions of the University, specifically the University’s commitments to diversity and inclusivity, community partnership and education outside the classroom,” said Interim Provost Al Hartman. “The move to a major at UW Oshkosh meets the growing student interest in women’s studies.”