Administrators heading up the women’s studies program (WMS) are working to expand the women’s studies minor into a major.
While the current director, Sally Jacobsen, was on sabbatical last spring, NKU instructor and Interim WMS Director Nancy Hancock of Philosophy, took the initiative to get the ball rolling. Hancock realized that Women’s Studies had lost its focus over the years.
Across the country in the late-1970s, Women’s Studies began as a way to explore the principles and theology of women’s rights. In order to compete with other social sciences, the program started to lean more towards scholarly philosophy and less methodological thinking.
“This major is going to bring back the practice,” Hancock said. “We want a Women’s Studies major to graduate from NKU ready to go out and make change happen to improve the status of women.”
While the major is still in the early planning stages, Hancock said that one thing is certain; the core of the WMS major will require one-year internships in civil engagements and participation. Students will work with either public or government agencies or foundations for learning experience.
“Women [currently] do not learn how things get done,” Hancock said. The major will give opportunities for students to see all of the behind-the-scenes work.
The WMS program has grown since its start three years ago.
The interdisciplinary program has seen the number of students declaring WMS as their area of concentration or minor, triple.
The number of classes offered has doubled in all fields of study and they’ve moved shop from a cramped English office, to several rooms in the Library.
Currently, there is an independent study available that will train accepted students to volunteer at the Northern Kentucky Women’s Crisis Center. This class serves as an example for the future core requirement.
The biggest concern for the program, however, is money.
In order to start the major, the program must apply for a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Challenge Grant.
“A challenge grant challenges universities and programs that want to expand, to establish endowments to fund them,” said WMS Director, Sally Jacobsen. The grant must be matched in order for the development to continue.
Aside from program development, money is needed to fund a full-time director, two full-time teachers and a full-time secretary.
“After we’ve done all that,” Hancock said, “the next five years are going to be exciting.”