back to news March 4, 2019

Interdisciplinary research and outreach in the Department of Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Shannon Winnubst, chair of the Department of Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies, describes the department's history, interdisciplinary research and outreach in honor of Women's History Month.

The Department of Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies at The Ohio State University was founded in 1975 and is one of the oldest departments and doctoral programs in the field. Growing out of the many social movements of the 1960s in the United States, as this research on Ohio State activism in 1970 documents, the field began as “Women’s Studies” and initiated the long work of bringing women into the academy. This involved the transformation of many fields of study, resulting in the integration of women’s voices and issues into many curricula across the university. As the field has developed, the singular category of “women” became too constraining for the nuanced intellectual work underway in this vibrant field. Staying true to the field’s roots in the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Liberation Movement and the Gay Liberation Movement of the 1960s, we expanded the department’s name to “Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies” to explore the many expressions and lived experiences of “gender” and “sexuality” across the globe. 
Celebrating our 40th anniversary in 2015, WGSS at Ohio State has developed into an outstanding academic unit and intellectual hub, with a long history of building the field of WGSS locally, nationally and internationally. Our faculty is conducting cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research in an important range of fields, and we consistently engage communities beyond campus. Faculty have received awards and fellowships from Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, Andrew Mellon Foundation, Fulbright Scholar Program, Ford Foundation, the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Harvard University and National Women's Studies Association. We have received recognition within Ohio State for our excellence in teaching, service and research. These awards include the Harlan Hatcher Distinguished Faculty Award, the Ronald and Deborah Ratner Distinguished Teaching Award, and Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching, amongst many others.
With a deep commitment to engaged scholarship, we have expanded service-learning courses that allow students to apply their coursework in the community. This includes a course on feminist perspectives on addiction that places students within local organizations that provide services to persons with substance-abuse issues and a course on incarceration in the U.S. that utilizes the Inside-Out Prison Exchange program to bring Ohio State students into direct dialogue with incarcerated persons on a range of feminist issues. 
With a faculty spanning eight different disciplines, we generate interdisciplinary scholarship and transformative pedagogies to address a wide range of complex social problems and questions. At a time when cultures across the globe are polarizing along ideological lines, the Department of Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies educates students at all levels to think in nuanced manners about the production of systems of inequality and injustice.