Paper Title

Whither LGBT Studies at SLACs in Neoliberal Times?

Location

Evans Room, Third Floor, DiGiorgio Campus Center (DiGs)

Start Date

April 2016

End Date

April 2016

Keywords

Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies Curriculum Transformation, Neoliberalism and LGBT Studies

Abstract

Contributing faculty to the Women’s Studies Program revised the curriculum, integrated the LGBT minor, and changed the name to Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies. While informed by national conversations, ultimately, the decision was based on local needs at a small liberal arts college in Northwest Pennsylvania (northern Appalachia) that has its share of struggles within the larger neoliberal framework of higher education. Consolidations are as much about survival at rural small tuition-driven colleges as they are about politics in the field and institution. While the “LGBT minor” is no longer visible in the course catalog, the courses exist exactly as they were but with a “WGSS” prefix and students can build their program around these courses. Our primary goal in making the change was to support LGBT students: the minor numbers were non-existent and when the name changed, enrollment increased. This paper argues that integrating the curriculum provided a certain amount of safety for students to identify as queer in a small place and institutionally allows the two programs to share resources to make sure LGBT Studies was not a target for elimination.

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Apr 1st, 3:30 PM Apr 1st, 4:45 PM

Whither LGBT Studies at SLACs in Neoliberal Times?

Evans Room, Third Floor, DiGiorgio Campus Center (DiGs)

Contributing faculty to the Women’s Studies Program revised the curriculum, integrated the LGBT minor, and changed the name to Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies. While informed by national conversations, ultimately, the decision was based on local needs at a small liberal arts college in Northwest Pennsylvania (northern Appalachia) that has its share of struggles within the larger neoliberal framework of higher education. Consolidations are as much about survival at rural small tuition-driven colleges as they are about politics in the field and institution. While the “LGBT minor” is no longer visible in the course catalog, the courses exist exactly as they were but with a “WGSS” prefix and students can build their program around these courses. Our primary goal in making the change was to support LGBT students: the minor numbers were non-existent and when the name changed, enrollment increased. This paper argues that integrating the curriculum provided a certain amount of safety for students to identify as queer in a small place and institutionally allows the two programs to share resources to make sure LGBT Studies was not a target for elimination.