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New certificate in LGBTQ studies – a growing area of scholarship and student interest

Alan Flurry

The Institute for Women’s Studies will begin offering an undergraduate certificate in LGBTQ studies in fall 2021. The coursework is designed to provide students with an understanding of the interdisciplinary scholarship and teaching on the role of sexuality in culture and politics. This certificate will foster theoretical reflection on the history of social difference and how it connects to sexuality, gender, race, ethnicity, and class. 

The certificate was approved by the University Council in April and courses have already begun to fill up, said Dr. Cecilia Herles, assistant director of the Institute and undergraduate student advisor.

“The idea for offering the certificate was really generated by interest from students and our faculty from their research,” Herles said. “Over the last ten years students have really enjoyed the classes related to sexuality and LGBTQ studies that we offer on a regular basis, and based on student interest in those courses – and our faculty scholarship – it made sense for us to open up a certificate.”

Herles said that the Institute has many alumni who have gone on to do related work in the field, whether it is students pursuing law with focus on protecting rights for LGBTQ individuals, or as activists, therapists, or in the non-profit sector. “Many former students do this work and really generate a lot of what they do based on the classes they’ve taken at UGA,” she said.

“This is an area of scholarship that is always growing, always changing, and we’re really fortunate to have faculty whose areas of interest and research generate their skills to teach these classes.”

The undergraduate certificate requires 17 hours of coursework that includes electives from outside the department. Required courses are:  

  •    WMST 1000, Seminars on Women’s Studies and Gender (1 hour)  
  •    WMST 2300, Introduction to LGBTQ Studies (3 hours)  
  •    WMST 3100, Diversity in LGBTQ Politics (3 hours)  
  •    WMST 4100/6100, Queer Theories (3 hours)  
  •    WMST 4910, Research and Methods in LGBTQ Studies (1 hour)  

“UGA students can really get a sense of interdisciplinary scholarship and how that connects with their understanding of culture and history,” Herles said. While Franklin majors are always well-represented, the courses attract a blend of student from schools and colleges from all over campus.

“The certificate has applicability in all kinds of facets and careers. The connections are endless because these issues relate to our everyday lives,” she said.

Workplace implications of being able to understand and respect others arise from an ability to create open spaces in our classrooms where people feel comfortable talking about these issues.

“That level of engagement is important, so that our students are better prepared when they go out into the workforce to deal with diverse populations and confidence using the correct terminologies, having an understanding of the sense of histories, translates into flourishing careers in every field,” Herles said.

Image: UGA students on North campus quad.

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