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Women's Studies Program Expands and Inspires

Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership

Women's Studies Program Expands and Inspires

The Women’s Studies Program at the City College of New York has found its home within the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership. And it’s an excellent fit, as the program, through multiple feminist perspectives, emphasizes the importance of social responsibility, community outreach, and engaged citizenship—hallmarks of each discipline taught under the school’s mission of promoting “social thought with public purpose.”

“Women's issues are global issues,” said Vince Boudreau, Dean of the Colin Powell School. “By supporting an academic program that asks students to seek equitable solutions to challenges for women and girls everywhere, we are supporting the school’s mission to dedicate research and scholarship to support equality, prosperity, stability, and peace around the globe.”

 

The program is in the midst of a sea change as it enters the second year of an ambitious five-year expansion plan, largely jumpstarted by the leadership of Patricia Ackerman, whoPatti Ackerman was named director in 2014. Ackerman has taught at City College as an adjunct lecturer since 2010. An Episcopal priest and psychotherapist, She is also director of the Together for Transformation Project, a global, interreligious collaboration based in New York City and Cape Town, South Africa, and focusing on ending violence against women and supporting women’s and LGBT human rights.

 

Currently, students interested in studying women’s and gender studies can declare a minor in the interdisciplinary program, but plans are in effect to develop a major in the subject. Alongside classroom instruction, the program has been a strong advocate of student efforts  to address gender-specific concerns on campus and beyond.

“We now stand at a crucial moment for women and gender studies at City College,” said Dee Dee Mozeleski, Director of the Office of Institutional Advancement. “We are excited to work with our campus and civic partners to make women and gender studies at the Colin Powell School a unique and far-reaching area for research, scholarship and programming.”

For the last two years, the program has co-sponsored and organized a series of film screenings, teach-ins, roundtables, lectures, and performances by students and faculty members across the social sciences and humanities. In recognition of Women’s History Month, last March the Women Studies Program hosted “Feminism & Forgiveness: Women’s Studies Interdisciplinary Faculty Discussion and Luncheon.” Members of the departments of anthropology, international studies, and Media Arts Production participated in a panel discussion.

The Women’s Studies program, Ackerman says, is committed to “support and serve the diverse constituency of women and men at CCNY.” For Ackerman and other faculty members teaching in the program, addressing and honoring the diversity of our student population involves not only building up women and gender studies scholarship at the college, but also means reaching marginalized or otherwise less visible students and providing a safe space for discussions that may not otherwise be facilitated on campus—or elsewhere.

For example, in December 2014, the Women Studies program held a roundtable for women members of the CUNY ROTC. “Soldiers First: Army Women Facing Change,” was an intergenerational conversation on sex, gender, violence, and the role of women in the military. The event brought together high-ranking women Army officers from West Point and elsewhere with young women cadets for frank talks over common concerns of being a woman in the military. There will be another roundtable next fall, which will focus on women, peace, and security with keynote speaker and renowned international relations scholar, Cynthia Enloe.

This spring, twenty Women’s Studies students will present at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, an experience that is shared by students who have taken Women’s Studies courses under Ackerman’s leadership. Ackerman is also U.N. representative for the Fellowship of Reconciliation and serves on the International Advisory Board of the Women’s Peacemakers Program in The Hague.

 

The Women’s Studies Program promises to be an important addition to the Colin Powell School for generations to come. Issues of gender and sexuality are increasingly at the forefront of public policy in the United States and in human rights forums around the globe. As we ask our students to investigate the diversity of identity, personal experience, and their accompanying politics, we ensure that Colin Powell School students will go out into the world with a more attuned eye to social injustice and demand a more equitable world.