This innovative, interdisciplinary department began as the Women's Studies Program in 1988 when feminist professors came together to focus on gender, race, class, sexualities, and nationalities from intersectional and transnational perspectives. The Dissertation Scholars program that ran from 1991-2009 brought numerous emerging feminist scholars to UCSB and invigorated the young program. The doctoral emphasis program, also began in the early 90s, inspired interdisciplinary feminist graduate education in the humanities and social sciences. The Hull Chair in Women and Social Justice, established in 2001, is the first endowed chair of its kind in the field. In 2004 the department offered the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Studies (LGBTQ) minor. A department since 2008, Feminist Studies expanded to include 10 faculty and over 50 affiliates. At the graduate level, we have a dynamic Ph.D. program with over 15 students as well as a small feminist doctoral emphasis program. About 45-50 students annually graduate from the Feminist Studies major and Feminist Studies and LGBTQ minors combined.
Feminist Studies is an interdisciplinary scholarly field with social justice roots, and originated in shared and connected struggle with fields including Black Studies, Chicana/o Studies, and Asian American Studies. At the core, our field has four threshold concepts: social construction of gender and sexuality; the workings of privilege and oppression; intersectionality; feminist praxis. Teaching and research in feminist studies focuses on the ways that relations of gender, intersecting with race, class, ethnicity, sexuality, nation, ability, body size, and other differences, affect every aspect of society.
The UCSB Department of Feminist Studies consists of a range of members: core faculty, affiliated faculty, staff, Feminist Studies graduate students, doctoral emphasis students, undergraduate Feminist Studies majors and minors and LGBTQ minors, temporary lecturers, and visitors. Our professors, Teaching Assistants and Associates, and lecturers support a curriculum that invites students to deepen their analysis of diverse lives, cultures, and histories in the United States and around the globe and the structures of powe r and inequality informing them. Through teaching and mentoring, department members strive to create and sustain a supportive, challenging, and intentional educational environment within which students of various backgrounds and identities engage productively with feminisms. Feminist Studies aims to inspire students to build on what they learn in classrooms and apply it to their personal and political lives. Our goal is to develop tools for graduate and undergraduate students to mobilize feminist perspectives, knowledge production, and praxis to analyze and engage with global, economic, political, historical, cultural, and social issues. Drawing on the strengths of UCSB, our students gain skills to address critical questions in Feminist Studies and pressing social issues through independent and collaborative research.