Women and Gender Studies

Women & Gender Studies Minor

Co-Director: Johanna Fisher, Adjunct Professor
Co-Director: Tanya Loughead, PhD, Professor

The Women & Gender Studies Minor provides an integrated approach to understanding the social, political, and cultural constructions of gender that shape the experiences of women and men. The curriculum offers a solid foundation in critically thinking through the relationships of identity and power and in critically examining and judging the oppressions and injustices that surround us. The Minor thus educates students in becoming “women and men with and for others.”

Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ, famously proclaimed that Jesuit education should aim to be “education for justice” and that students should become “able to perceive the serious injustices which are building around the world of men and women in a network of domination, oppression and abuses” that “stifle freedom.” The Women & Gender Studies Minor takes Fr. Arrupe’s call for an education for justice as one of the key features of its mission. Women & Gender Studies courses prepare students for meaningful careers — certainly — but more importantly prepare students for engaging in ethical and just relationships with everyone.

The Women & Gender Studies Minor is an excellent preparation for public-service careers, and is especially useful in any field where understanding diversity is a requirement — though certainly understanding diversity is important in every field and walk of life. Additionally, the minor prepares students for graduate study in social work, law, business and human resources, counseling, and many other fields. The Women & Gender Studies Minor can usually be combined with other majors in order for students to pursue their goals. Please check with your advisors, especially the Women & Gender Studies Co-Directors, to see how either the minor works with your desired academic status and goals.

Students who complete the Women & Gender Studies Minor often go into fields where the knowledge of human diversity is respected. Recent Canisius University Women & Gender Studies graduates are in careers such as: law, government and non-profit work, literature and the arts, philosophy, social work, education, counseling, human resources, community organization, medicine, and journalism. Graduates of the program are currently in graduate schools in the following areas:

  • PhD in International Law
  • PhD in English
  • MD
  • MBA
  • MA in Art History
  • MS in Social Work
  • MA in Gender Studies
  • PhD in Sociology
  • PhD in Human Rights Law

Lorch Award

The Dr. I. Joan Lorch Award for Women & Gender Studies honors a person who has made a significant contribution to women and who exemplifies the pursuit of liberation and justice regarding sex, gender, and sexuality.

View Nomination Form


All students should meet with one of the Women & Gender Studies Co-Directors as well as Women & Gender Studies faculty in discussing career expectations, choosing their electives, developing their entire academic program and planning their co-curricular or supplemental academic experiences.

Minors are an important part of the undergraduate curriculum.  If students declare a minor by sophomore year, they can usually complete it in a timely manner.  Students should work with their advisor to determine if it is possible that the minor can be completed by graduation.  

To receive a minor, a student must complete at least 9 credit hours of coursework distinct from their major(s) and from other minors, and students must complete more than 50% of the coursework required for the minor at Canisius. Please note that “ancillary/supporting” courses required for a major may still count as distinct courses as long as the remaining coursework still meets the 30 credit-hours required for a major. For more information about minor policies, please see the Declaring Majors and Minors page in the catalog.

Curriculum for the Minor

The Women & Gender Studies courses emphasize how gender roles are created and how they impact what we know and how we act in the world. Students are encouraged to explore the complexities of our gendered world in a structured series of courses. Learning objectives for the Women & Gender Studies Minor focus on gender, justice and oppression, power, and cultural diversity.

The Women & Gender Studies Minor consists of:

WST 201 Introduction to Women and Gender Studies 3
Four pre-approved Women & Gender Studies courses 12
Total Credits 15

Examples of Women and Gender Studies courses include:


ENG 223 Images of Women in Literature and Film 3
ENG 306 Eighteenth Century Literature 3
ENG 368 Native American Literature 3
ENG 373 Jane Austen 3
ENG 382 African American Literature 3
ENG 381 Postcolonial Literature 3
FAH 159 Gender, Identity, and Art 3
FAM 213 Women in Music 3
HIS 211 Women In The Western World 3
PHI 240 Justice 3
PHI 272 Gender and Philosophy 3
PHI 273 Race and Philosophy 3
PHI 274 Social and Political Philosophy 3
PHI 275 Global Feminisms 3
PHI 285 Black Philosophy 3
RST 340 Moral Issues Today 3
RST 345 Bio-Moral Problems 3
SPA 324 Topics in Conversation II Latin American Culture and Civilization 3
SPA 459 The Body Erotic/The Body Politic: Sexuality as Political Discourse in Latin America and Spain 3
SPA 453 Almodóvar and La Movida: The Films of Pedro Almodóvar 3

Social & Natural Science

COM 304 Family Communication 3
COM 327 Impact of Culture, Race, and Gender on Message Design 3
CRJ 337 Violence and the Family 3
CRJ 359   3
PSY 318 Social Psychology 3
SOC 273 Social Movements and Social Change 3
SOC 291 Gender and Society 3
SOC 390 Life Course and Family 3

Learning Goals & Objectives

Learning Goal 1

Students will be original thinkers who can re-envision how gender roles interact with social structures, time, race or ethnicity.

Students will:
  • Objective A: Distinguish the difference between sex and gender;
  • Objective B: Interpret the ways social structures (such as religion and social class) impact women and men’s lives;
  • Objective C: Explain how historical context interacts with gender roles;
  • Objective D: Examine how race or ethnicity interacts with gender roles;
  • Objective E: Analyze how socially-constructed gender norms influence power relationships experienced by individuals.

Learning Goal 2

Students will be problem solvers who investigate culture and society using the lens of gender and social justice.

Students will:
  • Objective A: Evaluate human interactions using gender as a framework;
  • Objective B: Apply gender-bases analysis to offer solutions to issues in society and culture.


 Please note that because this minor is interdisciplinary, most courses are offered in other departments.  In the online catalog, you can look at course descriptions using the course bubbles in the minor's curriculum.

WST 201 Introduction to Women and Gender Studies 3 Credits

This course places the experiences of women and men at the center of our study by introducing basic concepts and perspectives in the field of women and gender studies. We further focus on the ways in which gender interacts with race, class, sexual orientation, and ethnicity.

Fulfills College Core: Field 5 (Social Sciences)

Offered: occasionally.