1996: Women’s Studies Minor

1996 Penn State Harrisburg Offers Women’s Studies Minor

In spring 1996, after many years of preparation, Penn State Harrisburg became the last of the Penn State campuses to offer students a minor in women’s studies.

The women’s studies minor had a unique set-up. It was interdisciplinary and interdepartmental, and it was governed by a coordinating committee of 16 faculty representatives in each department: Humanities, Public Affairs, Behavioral Science, Education, Science Engineering & Technology, and Business.

The committee, headed by Dr. Kathryn Towns, Dr. Alison Hirsch, and Dr. Carol Nechemias (pictured), spent two years writing the proposal, which the Academic Affairs Committee accepted in March 1995.

Dr. Nechemias said faculty members were already teaching the classes that were part of the proposed women’s studies minor, so it was a logical progression. Of her public policy women’s studies course, Nechemias said, “It’s basically looking at gender issues, events, ideas, and meanings that social institutions have for men and women. We are addressing the question of what are women’s issues? And why are they called that?”

She said women’s studies courses are so vital for both male and female students because “through my doctoral degree, I never had 60 seconds focused on women.”

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