Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies

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Program Overview

Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies is an interdisciplinary program that challenges the cultural, intellectual, social and political assumptions about sex, gender and sexuality systems. A unique field, Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies draws on scholarship from multiple disciplines to develop its own theories, methods and epistemologies. The inextricable linkage of theory and practice forms the foundation of the field. Courses in the program critically engage issues of race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality and other key components of identity, and the ways they intersect.

The Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies program offers you opportunities to:

  • Identify intersecting systems of power; including race, class, ethnicity, gender, sex and sexuality.
  • Gain specialized knowledge and acquire proficiency in course content.
  • Apply theories, methods and epistemologies to course materials and lived experience.
  • Analyze and critically evaluate the implications of specialized knowledge put into practice.

As an interdisciplinary program, Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies offers a unique way to combine elements from other disciplines and bring them together in especially powerful ways: Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies encourages research and scholarship that integrate diverse ideas.

Apart from helping students to develop fresh perspectives, the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies program also provides for the WGS Center in Donnarumma Hall, which offers informational resources as well as a meeting place for student groups. The program brings in various speakers on all kinds of topics, often giving students the opportunity for interaction and discussion, and each year a "Person of the Year" is named at a signature event that highlights activism. Fairfield's location, just an hour from New York City, gives students and faculty easy access to lectures, conferences, and organizations devoted to understanding and promoting issues relevant to the study of women, gender and sexuality.

Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies | Fairfield University

Requirements & Curriculum

Required Courses

Five (5) courses, including:
At least three (3) Gender-Focused courses
Two (2) additional Gender-Focused or Gender-Component courses
Capstone Seminar
WGSS 1101 | Introduction to Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (3)
Eight elective courses selected from the course catalog list (24)
WGSS 4999 | Capstone Seminar (3)

A detailed list of course requirements, offerings, and more can be viewed in the University’s course catalog.

The Lucy Katz Award

Since 1994, the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program has annually recognized a woman on campus who has made an outstanding contribution to women's issues. Founding co-directors Dr. Johanna Garvey, Associate Professor of English, and Dr. Lucy Katz, Professor Emeritus, Business, believe such recognition will advance the understanding and promotion of women's issues on campus and off.

More About Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies

Life After Fairfield

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Life After Fairfield

Your choice of a minor in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies will enhance your qualifications for almost any career. You'll develop new sensitivities and insights into the realities of gender, race, class, ethnicity, and sexuality in politics, arts, society, and the workplace. You'll study these issues on both the theoretical and experiential levels, adding an educational dimension that will prove useful to prospective employers in business, government, the professions, and other fields.

WGS studies minors have gone on to work in the fields of:

  • Medicine
  • Law
  • Public Relations
  • Publishing
  • Business
  • Education

The list is endless. Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies will help you participate in the real world in which we live. A minor in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies will help set your resume apart from the stack a potential employer will sift through or ideally situate you for future academic work in a variety of fields. The program also regularly sponsors events that allows minors to meet with graduates of the program as well as other minors and the talented faculty who contribute to the program.

Learn how Fairfield's Career Services can support your post-graduate goals, and how our tight-knit alumni network can build career and mentoring opportunities that last a lifetime.

Visit the Career Center

Diversity and Inclusive Excellence

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Diversity and Inclusive Excellence

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As a Jesuit, Catholic university, Fairfield is dedicated to diversity and inclusion; to radical hospitality in service of racial, social, and economic justice.

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Internships are available in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies in a variety of fields related to non-profit work, social change, activism, the arts, media, and a host of other fields and professional contexts that will compliment your experience as a Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies minor. Internships allow students to explore the relationship between the theoretical and the applied and to make meaningful contacts with the wider community beyond the Fairfield campus.

Students interested in exploring the possibilities of a Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies internship should contact the program director, Johanna Garvey.

Student Resources

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Student Resources

The following list compiled by Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies represents some of the academic and student groups and programs on campus that may be of interest to Women's Studies minors. If you would like a listing included here, please e-mail Johanna Garvey, Director of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies.

Student Groups


Alliance is a group for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) students and straight allies, which exists to promote diversity and acceptance on campus. Alliance holds weekly meetings and a number of events and activities throughout the year. The membership also acts as an advocacy group on campus for LGBT students and issues.
Contact: fairfieldalliance@gmail.com

Gender, Sex, and Sexuality Commons

In our commitment to being men and women for others, we find it necessary to claim a space in which we can create and foster an all-inclusive community for students of various genders, sexes, and sexualities. This is a collective space for men and women to engage in an ongoing dialogue about the gender and sexuality injustices that occur on the campus and abroad. Such dialogue will contribute to mutual understanding and active service focused around these issues. We envision this environment will help foster growth in our community so that students of diverse genders and sexualities are distinguished as equals in academics, athletics, and social interactions.

The Reproductive Rights Talk and Action Group (RRTAG)

The Reproductive Rights Talk and Action Group seeks to create consistent dialogue on the topic of global, intersectional reproductive rights of women and females, as well as to install action projects and events around campus to increase awareness regarding reproductive rights and justice.
Contact: reproductiverights4fairfieldu@gmail.com

Campus Services

Safe Space Program

The Fairfield Safe Space Program creates a network of campus-based allies to support and confirm the dignity and self worth of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer students and their allies.

In accordance with Catholic social teaching, the human rights of all are paramount to the Jesuit university educational experience. Fairfield University is committed to providing safe spaces where individuals can engage in discussion, education, advocacy, and awareness about LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer) issues. These spaces are free from discrimination, ignorance, bigotry, and harassment, and provide a safe and accepting environment for all members of the Fairfield University community regardless of sex, race, color, marital status, sexual orientation, religion, age, national origin or ancestry, disability, or special needs.


  • To institutionally support LGBTQ individuals and those who have family members that are LGBTQ by providing a campus environment that is safe physically, socially, spiritually, and emotionally
  • To provide education and experiential learning opportunities for the campus community to combat homophobia, heterosexism, discrimination, and ignorance about LGBTQ issues
  • To identify individuals in the Fairfield University community that will provide support, resources, information, and a safe place for LGBTQ students and their allies
  • To improve the quality of life for all student populations on campus
  • To provide visible resources and mentors for LGBTQ persons within the University community by providing a tangible sign of support

Faculty, staff, and student leaders can go through Safe Space training. Safe Space I training creates awareness of issues and builds participants' knowledge and skills. Safe Space II workshops examine particular issues more deeply, such as the coming out process and the intersection between sexuality and gender. A Safe Space I workshop must be completed before attending a Safe Space II workshop.
Contact: safespace@fairfield.edu

Coming Out/Being Out

A group for students exploring gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered identity in a safe, supportive environment. This group is for students in all stages of the self-discovery and coming-out process or those questioning their identity. It's a safe, respectful and confidential group to process issues of concern, worry, or hope as well as a place to develop supportive friendships and discuss issues involved in coming out and being out. This group meets once a week.
Contact: Susan Birge at sbirge@fairfield.edu

Ally Network

The Ally Network serves as a campus-wide resource to students who are in need of support. Upon completion of the training workshop, allies receive a Safe Space placard distinguishing them as part of the network. This placard is a symbol that the person will be understanding, supportive, and trustworthy if a gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer student needs help, advice, or just someone with whom they can talk. The person displaying the symbol is also a person who can give anyone accurate information about sexual orientation issues.
Contact: safespace@fairfield.edu


The Mission of WiSTEM (Women in Mathematics, Science, Technology, and Engineering) is to provide services and activities to help support women pursuing the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics while building community beyond the traditional academic boundaries. The program also emphasizes connections with other women in related fields and between undergraduates, faculty, and female professionals outside academia.

Benefits include:

  • Living in an intentional community
  • Participating in courses in your major with floor mates
  • Special study groups
  • Pairing with student and professional mentors
  • Opportunities to participate in research projects

Service for Justice Residential College *(New Location)

When we are at our best, we deeply appreciate the gifts of others and seek to serve those in need. The Service for Justice Residential College (S4J) ,which will be moved into the new building on the Quad called 70 McCormick Hall (2 person residential hall), is a community based on exploring questions of service, diversity and social justice. Through conversations, reflection and action of students, faculty, and mentors with one another, the hope of this community is to appreciate an historical context of and passion for social justice, understand diversity and all its manifestations, communicate with others about and across differences, and take action and become change agents. In this way, all are able to construct and discern their own living and learning experience. This community welcomes students of all interests, backgrounds, and perspectives. Three overarching questions guide our community:

  • How can I make a difference here, now?
  • How can I understand, appreciate and explore difference?
  • How can I be me in this diverse world?

Health Center

Women's Health Clinic by appointment only on Tuesday and Thursday 1:30 – 4 p.m.
Contact: sdunn@fairfield.edu

Diversity Committee-Fairfield United

Comprised of leaders of the diversity clubs on campus in order to collaborate on initiatives and programs.

Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Office-DMH 115

Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies is an interdisciplinary program that focuses on two levels of inquiry, the theoretical and the experiential. The program demonstrates the ways in which cultural assumptions about gender and sexuality influence the development of personal identity and public roles that consequently affect all social and political structures. The Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies office provides a space for students to learn more about the minor program and acts as a meeting space for related groups and classes.

Office Hours

  • Tuesday: 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Wednesday: Noon – 5 p.m.
  • Thursday: 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Campus Ministry

Students for Social Justice (S4SJ)

S4SJ is a dynamic, student-lead group that aims to educate, advocate, and activate around issues of social justice, to be a voice for the voiceless, and to further enrich Fairfield's mission in the service of faith and the promotion of justice.


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The College of Arts and Sciences at Fairfield University is home to a vibrant community of engaged faculty, dedicated staff and budding scholars devoted to the process of invention and discovery and excited by the prospect of producing knowledge in the service of others. Meet the dedicated members of our Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program.

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