Diana Palardy, interim director of women’s studies, said bringing students into the women’s studies minor has been challenging.
Under the new general education requirements, the coursework includes classes such as Introduction to Women’s Studies, Human Sexuality, Feminist Philosophy and Women in Literature.
Palardy said the women’s studies minor is complementary to many other majors such as English, social work and history.
“What is really neat is there are such a wide variety of courses,” Palardy said. “You think about all the different subjects that are out there, and you can see the angle of it from a woman’s perspective.”
Palardy, whose term as interim director began this fall, and affiliated faculty members are trying to inform students about the benefits of minoring in women’s studies.
Palardy said a few structural errors such as faculty retirement have prevented some people from registering for classes in the minor.
She said after faculty retired, it took some time to find instructors to teach particular classes, and registration suffered.
“But I wouldn’t say it is a lack of interest,” Palardy said. “I am trying to get it going back on track and get people excited. They don’t know enough about the program yet, or some people don’t know it exists.”
YSU does not track how many students enroll in each of the minors, and Julia Gergits, English department chair, said without those numbers, it is difficult to gauge a program’s effectiveness.
“All of the programs need to demonstrate their usefulness, but right now, it’s a technical error with no evidence,” Gergits said.
Student interest in women’s studies wasn’t always as tepid. The discipline once warranted a Women’s Center in Kilcawley Center where the Student Government Association office is today.
“It was a counseling center that dealt with specific women’s issues, such as child-raising, women coping on campus, mother management and career opportunities,” Gergits said. “However, the women’s studies department and the Women’s Center were separate things.”
Gergits said Palardy and the affiliated faculty members are trying to expand the program to a minor in gender studies. However, any changes that are made need to pass through the curriculum and programs committees. “I have been working so hard to get this minor off the ground, and every time I talk to people, they say, ‘This sounds great,’ or, ‘This sounds like something I would be interested in,’” Palardy said. “But they just don’t know enough about it. I at least want to start getting a lot of energy going and a lot of interest drummed up.”Palardy said she wants to find out what other courses would be appealing to students. She said one student inquired as to why there isn’t a men’s studies minor. “I wanted to say to him that everything around you is men’s studies. This is the only place. All of those other areas you think of, for example, political science, the default is always men,” she said. “Obviously, you can study women in political science, but it’s in a different area.”