Gender and Ethnic Studies Form New School

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The School for Cultural and Social Transformation at the University of Utah officially celebrated its first semester on Nov. 2 at an event titled “Race and Queer Space.” Proposed in January of this year, the school combines gender and ethnic studies. It was approved by the Board of Trustees in July and launched at the beginning of Fall semester.

“This [new school] allows us to be in the forefront, leading the Pac-12 with a new way of developing and growing ethnic studies and gender studies,” said Kathryn Bond Stockton, Dean of the School for Cultural and Social Transformation. “Some places, these entities are being defunded, rolled back in various ways and seeing cuts or changes. [At the U], we are growing and developing, and wanting to lead out the Pac-12.”

According to Stockton, the process of becoming a new school was smooth and the idea received positive feedback. There was minimal funding required for Gender and Ethnic studies to become a new entity, which was a key factor in the swift approval by the Board of Trustees. Various members of faculty and staff had been contemplating the change for awhile.

“The beauty of this change is now that the entities are divisions, they can do their own hiring, their own tenures, govern their own curriculum and do graduation ceremonies for their own students. But they can also do shared appointments,” said Stockton.

The school will give students opportunities to pursue their interests by connecting in-class learning to work and community activism. There is a new graduate certificate that will be offered through the Gender Studies Division, and courses relating to the Sexuality Project, which is a cross-campus collaboration of faculty with expertise in sexuality studies.

“We all are thrilled about the new school,” said Susie Porter, the Director of the Gender Studies Division.  “It opens up a world of possibilities for students and faculty.  With the new administrative structure we are in a position to be able to respond to student interests.”

Issues regarding gender, sexuality and race are some of he topics that students will study.

The School for Cultural and Social Transformation strives to promote diversity and equity at the U, so it has announced that it will work with and support undocumented students, and encourages contributions to the DREAMers Scholarship Fund as established by the President’s letter on Nov. 17.

The Gender Studies Division was recently awarded editorship of the Frontiers, which is a feminist academic journal.

“It is a great honor [to be awarded with editorship], and [Frontiers] will contribute to exciting conversations about intersectionality, critical race theory, sexuality studies, indigeneity and more,” said Porter.

Stories surrounding race, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and other social issues have dominated the news in recent months. The School of Cultural and Social Transformation is determined to educate and generate awareness on these topics.

Stockton said, “This is the best way to send a message to our campus that we’re serious about growing our diversity efforts.”

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