Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Program Overview

The Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) program gives students the intellectual and practical tools for engaging with the ways gender and sexuality impact our lives. Through a multidisciplinary approach among thirteen academic departments, students explore the intersections of gender, race, ethnicity, age, class, ability, sexuality, and religious affiliation. Students can choose to major or minor in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and learn to apply theoretical concepts to understand and challenge forms of oppression from racism to sexism and homophobia, to classism and religious intolerance. Furman’s diverse WGSS curriculum prepares students to pursue a wide range of professional opportunities and/or additional education.

Recent evidence on the pandemic’s imbalanced toll on working mothers who left the workforce and on queer youth who remained in unsafe or non-affirming homes, as well as the #MeToo movement’s focus on systemic abuse of power/privilege, reminds us that WGSS goes beyond curricular issues; it is about the world we live in.

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Engaged Learning

Students can participate in faculty-sponsored internships at local agencies that, for example, advocate for victims of child abuse, sexual assault, human trafficking, prostitution, or addiction. Students have also participated in virtual study-away internships, such as one with a Netherlands-based organization that aims to destigmatize the sexuality of those with disabilities. Faculty-supervised research on a collaborative project is also a component of WGSS. May Experience courses, such as study away in Sweden (“Sex Goes to School: Sex Education in the United States and Sweden”) or on campus (“Sexual Revolutions in Modern America”) provide additional opportunities for intellectually engaging experiences.


WGSS Major

WGSS Major

Complete one of these introductory courses— Issues in WGSS or Queer Theory —and the equivalent of seven elective courses in at least three different disciplines. As a culminating experience, students either conduct directed research or participate in a supervised internship for course credit.

WGSS Minor

WGSS Minor

Complete one of these introductory courses — Issues in WGSS or Queer Theory — and at least four additional courses, representing three different disciplines from a wide array of choices.

This carousel is presenting alumnus.
Lauren Pinion

Meet An Alumnus

""WGSS majors are not limited to a single future career. They graduate with the tools to be able to examine the society around them through highly developed critical thinking skills. This is not an insignificant or niche field of study; it is one that is applicable to every interaction we have and the ways we view everything else in our world.""
Lauren Pinion
Katie Norris

Meet An Alumnus

""Furman reinforces that the willingness to engage is an essential ingredient for a rich intellectual life. WGSS at Furman is a logical addition to the institution’s academic offerings. No matter where you fall upon the gender spectrum, gender is an inescapable part of life that informs how we see ourselves and those around us. WGSS, then, enables students to effectively engage with the world.""
Katie Norris

Speaker Series

In the Fall of 2023, the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program launched a three-year interdisciplinary speaker series. For the first year, the series’ theme is broadly organized around multidisciplinary discussions of “the body.” In organizing this series, WGSS collaborated with 8 different departments, centers, and institutes on campus. The series is generously sponsored by the Furman Humanities Center, the Reid Endowed Lecture Fund, the Center for Inclusive Communities, the English, History, Biology, Psychology, Health Sciences, and Art departments, the Duke Library, the Institute for the Advancement of Community Health, and the new Master’s program in Advocacy and Equity Studies. 

During the 2023-2024 academic year, the WGSS Program will bring seven speakers to campus, including a MacArthur Genius Award winning biologist from Yale, a Distinguished Lecturer of the Organization of American Historians, an artist, a poet and more! See below for more details.

With the exception of November’s event, each of these talks is open to the public. We welcome you to join us. Please contact kathleen.casey6@furman.edu with any questions.

  • At the End of the World: Apocalyptic Bodies and the Feminine Sublime – Dr. Aviva Dove-Viebahn, Assistant Professor of Film & Media Studies, Arizona State University – September 28, 5pm, Burgiss Theater
  • Trans Representations: Decolonizing Contemporary Art – Dr. Ace Lehner, Assistant Professor in Art & Art History, University of Vermont – October 19, 5pm, Furman Hall 214
  • How to Talk about Abortion – Maya Oaks, Director of Reproductive Health Programs, American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists – November 16, 5pm, Burgiss Theater
  • Performance All the Way Down: Genes, Development, and the Sexual Body – Dr. Richard Prum, Professor of Evolutionary Biology, Yale – February 1, 5pm, Burgiss Theater
  • Who Really Struggles with Their Body? Body Image and Disordered Eating in Diverse Samples – Dr. Taryn Myers, Professor of Psychology, Virginia Wesleyan University – February 29, 5pm, Johns Hall 101
  • The Resistant Body: Female Hunger Strikers in Modern America – Dr. Victoria Wolcott, Professor of History, University at Buffalo – March 21, 5pm, Furman Hall 214
  • A Reading with South Carolina Poet Evelyn Berry – Evelyn Berry, Poet, author of “Grief Slut” – April 18, 5pm, Furman Hall 214

Other past WGSS co-sponsored events:

Teaching Faculty

Erik Anderson

Department Chair, Philosophy

Sarah Archino

Department Chair, Associate Professor of Art History

Marian Osborne Berky

Instructor, Religion

Gretchen Braun

Professor, English and Women's Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Kathleen Casey

Director, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program; Professor of History

Kylie Fisher

Assistant Professor of Art History

Linnea Freeman

Associate Professor, Biology

Jessica Hennessey

Professor of Economics

Scott Henderson

William R. Kenan Jr. Professor, Education; Director of National and International Scholarships; Philosophy and History of Education

Tuğçe Kayaal

Assistant Professor, History

Sofia Kearns

Professor of Spanish

Eunice Kim

Assistant Professor, Classics

Cynthia King

Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusive Excellence; Professor of Communication Studies

Lisa Knight

Alva and Beatrice Bradley Professor of Anthropology, Asian Studies, and Religion; Chair, Department of Anthropology

Ken Kolb

Professor, Sociology; Chair, Sociology

Camille Lewis

Assistant Professor of Communication Studies

Angélica Lozano-Alonso

Professor of Spanish; Spanish Language Coordinator

Victoria Montrose

Assistant Professor

Savita Nair

Gordon Poteat Professor of Asian Studies and History

Nicholas Radel

Professor of English

Kaniqua Robinson

Assistant Professor, Anthropology

Elizabeth Smith

Professor, Department of Politics and International Affairs; Assistant Faculty Director, The Cothran Center for Vocational Reflection

Roger Sneed

Professor of Religion; Faculty Chair

Marian Strobel

William Montgomery Burnett Professor, History

Alfons Teipen

Professor of Religion, Director of Middle East and Islamic Studies Minor

Victoria Turgeon

Professor,Biology; Academic Director, Prisma Health Partnership; Faculty Ombuds

Mai Nou Xiong-Gum

Assistant Professor, Communication Studies
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Committee Members and Affiliate Faculty