Women's and Gender Studies

Evaluating the culturally and historically specific constructions of gender

The Women's and Gender Studies minor at Alfred University is designed to help you understand the intersections of sex, sexuality, and gender with other culturally constructed identities, such as those based on race, ethnicity, class, and age. The minor is also very supportive of various majors. You're invited to complete a minor in Women's and Gender Studies, or to select courses of particular interest that might enhance your work in another minor or major.


Campus Locations

Main Campus - Alfred, NY


none offered


Women's and Gender Studies

Required Core

  • WGST 101 Women in Society
  • WGST 450 Independent Study

Elective Courses

Choose 12 or more credits from at least two groups (I, II, III, IV).

I: Humanities

  • WGST 215 Framing Gender: Latin American Film
  • WGST 216 Cuba Close Up: Film since the Revolution
  • WGST 254 Women Writers
  • WGST 256 Multicultural American Literature
  • WGST 324 Queer American History
  • WGST 412 Gender and American Film
  • WGST 465 Gender, Race, Class and Media
  • WGST 481 International Women Writers

II: Social Sciences

  • WGST 246 Sex and the Body Politic
  • WGST 253 Social Welfare Institutions
  • WGST 305 Gender and Organizations
  • WGST 320 Parenting Seminar
  • WGST 346 Sociology of Sex and Gender
  • WGST 348 Sociology of Families
  • WGST 351 Human Sexuality
  • WGST 372 Psychology of Gender

III: Fine and Performing Arts

  • WGST 211 Women in Theatre, Society & Politics
  • WGST 382 Women/Art/History

IV: Women’s Studies

  • WGST 201 Gender and Leadership
  • WGST 475 Women’s Leadership Academy Practicum

Special Topics courses in Women’s and Gender Studies (WGST 200, 300, 400) also count as electives toward the minor. Recent topics include Queer Hollywood, Toni Morrison, Women in Music, and Modern European History.

The program aims to achieve these learning outcomes:

  • Acquire, synthesize and communicate knowledge about feminist and gender theories and scholarship, and apply feminist perspectives across multiple disciplines.
  • Identify, compare, and evaluate culturally and historically specific constructions of gender.
  • Demonstrate the ability to conduct interdisciplinary feminist research and analysis.
  • Engage in critical debates concerning women's and gender issues and understand the relationship between Women's and Gender Studies scholarship and social action.
  • Understand the intersections of sex, sexuality, and gender with other culturally constructed identities, such as those based on race, ethnicity, class, and age.

Each year, Alfred University hosts the Elizabeth Hallenbeck Riley and Charles P. Riley Lectureship in Women's Studies. Charles Riley and Elizabeth Hallenbeck Riley were AU graduates (Charles in 1935 and Elizabeth in 1936). Elizabeth was a local activist involved in women's rights issues. Their daughters, Pamela Riley Osborn ('62), Patricia A. Riley ('65), and Melissa Riley generously sponsored the lecture series in memory of their parents. The Riley sisters' gift is a completion of the memorial Charles Riley had planned for his wife but had not completed before his death.

At the inaugural lecture in April 1996, Karen Porter, former director of the Women's and Gender Studies program, noted that the lectureship "validates the work of women's studies. It reaffirms our sense of community, and it helps make that community visible."

Lectures From Recent Past


Dr. Meghann P. Galloway, JD, PhD (AU 2010)
Senior Counsel, Office of Legislative Affairs, U.S. Department of Justice
"The Stories We Tell Ourselves:  Using Narrative to Advance Policy Solutions to Our Most Pressing Social Problems"


Dr. Cora Fernández Anderson, Associate Professor of Comparative Politics at Mount Holyoke College
"Fighting for Abortion Rights: Lessons from Latin America"
Dr. Katrina Kimport, Professor, ANSIRH (Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health), University of California – San Francisco
"No Real Choice: How Culture and Politics Matter for Reproductive Autonomy"

2022 (Zoom lecture)

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, physician, activist, and Associate Professor in the College of Human Medicine, Michigan State University.  Author of What the Eyes Don’t See (2018) about the Flint water crisis.
"Dr. Mona in a Conversation with Dr. Michele Hluchy, Professor of Environmental Studies and Geology, Alfred University"

2021 (Zoom lecture)

Alice Sheppard
Dancer, Artistic Director of Kinetic Light, a leading disability arts ensemble
"Our World Runs Deep: Intersectional Disability Aesthetics and Culture"




Pearl Dick
Artist, educator, Activist
"Glassblowing and healing trauma: a queer woman of color’s feminist approach"


Dr. Roberta Cordano
President, Gallaudet University
"Creating a Sense of Belonging: Musings of a Deaf College President"


Charlotte Bunch
Human Rights Activist
"The Dance of Feminism with Human Rights: Reflections from the Past 25 Years of Global Women's Human Rights"


Valerie Naranjo
"Breaking Gender and Cultural Boundaries: A Conversation with World-Renowned Percussionist Valerie Naranjo"


Nadine Strossen
Professor of Law, New York Law School; Former president, ACLU
"Sex, Gender, and Civil Liberties on American College Campuses"


Kathleen Basile, PhD, '91
Lead Behavioral Scientist at the Centers for Disease Control
"Sexual Violence Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control: Examining the Gendered Nature of Sexual Violence and the Importance of Public Health"

View All

The Alfred University Women's and Gender Studies Program grew out of Alfred's historically liberal, progressive college environment and unique feminist history. Founded in 1836, AU was the second co-educational college in the United States and the first in New York State.

Alfred University has always encouraged not only women's education, but also the opportunity for women to work. Jonathan Allen, the University's second president, once said, "I cannot see why, if woman has a mind, it was given her to be cramped and dwarfed and starved." He refused to let the narrow visions of other institutions interfere with his goals for the young women of Alfred University. "Woman is knocking at college doors for admission," he said, "...Many colleges have slammed their doors in her face."

Abigail Allen, Jonathan's wife and a professor at AU, shared her husband's vision of educational equality at Alfred. A revolutionary woman of her time, Abigail's contributions are still honored by university students and faculty today. Abigail Allen believed that men and women alike must work to challenge the limits set by society and institution. "Any culture to be noblest .... must move on the high tide of human progress, keep abreast of the world's advance movements: in one word, be radical, radical to the core."

Founded as a Women's Studies Program in 1983, the name was changed to Women's and Gender Studies in 2013 to better reflect the program's focus and curriculum. The program continues to offer students the opportunity to explore the interdisciplinary fields of women's and gender studies by combining courses from a variety of traditional disciplines with ones designed specifically for the program.

Our approach exposes students to a variety of conceptual frameworks, experiences, personal styles, ideas, and issues. We encourage an exploration of the many ideological positions possible within as well as outside the body of work considered Women's and Gender Studies. Faculty from throughout the university participate in the program.

The Abigail Allen Award: Honoring Those Who Improve the Quality of Women's Lives

The Abigail Allen Award is given in memory of Abigail Allen, a founding mother of Alfred University, who dedicated her life's work to advancing the cause of coeducation and encouraging women to pursue higher education. In so doing, she contributed immeasurably to improving the quality of women's lives on our campus and in the wider community.

The faculty/ staff award is presented to a faculty or staff member who has contributed to our campus and community by improving the quality of women's lives and whose exceptional efforts deserve recognition in this vein.

The student award is given to an outstanding senior Women's and Gender Studies minor whose academic performance and service to the university community, particularly to the Women's and Gender Studies community, exemplifies the standards established by Abigail Allen herself.

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