Undergraduate Student Learning Initiative

The Undergraduate Student Learning Initiative

GWS students get significant personalized attention. Our department is known for its investment in the well-being of our students, and its smaller size means that it is somewhat easier to cultivate a community among undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff. We offer all graduating seniors a capstone experience, the Senior Seminar, GWS195. In this course, students have an opportunity to culminate their undergraduate learning experience by focusing their developed skills on a single extensive research and writing project. Students choose a topic about which they are passionately interested, perform advanced research appropriate to the question, and compose an extensive written thesis. Another course, GWS101, Doing Feminist Research, leads directly into the Senior Seminar, training students in advanced research methods, and preparing them by prompting them to dream about final research projects. The guidance students receive is personalized to their interests and research, and our faculty work to establish a common basis for guiding students through the program.

All departments on campus have worked collectively with the UC-wide Undergraduate Student Learning Initiative to establish department-specific learning goals as well as means for assessing students' progress in reaching those goals. Such a program enables us to provide concrete information in advance to students considering the major or minor about what skills they will acquire, as well as shared guidelines for students and instructors for what kinds of course pathways involve a specific skills development.

The Department of Gender and Women's Studies has a two-part set of goals:

  • ones characteristic of general learning outcomes expected of a social sciences and/or liberal arts major at the University of California, Berkeley;
  • ones specific to our pedagogical priorities as a department.

Below is a list of our current Learning Goals, followed by a chart demonstrating how given learning goals are addressed by specific courses.

CRITICAL THINKING

Critical analysis: Identify and evaluate arguments, rhetorical styles, synthesize ideas, and develop well-substantiated, coherent, and concise arguments

Logical reasoning: Identify and follow a logical sequence or argument through to its end; recognize faulty reasoning or premature closure

Abstract thinking: Generalize for a specific purpose and/or in a way that clarifies and heightens understanding of major issues at stake; identify the essential or most relevant elements of a concept, event, object, text, etc.

Argumentation: Marshal appropriate and relevant evidence in order to develop a clear claim or stance using specific rhetorical approaches

DOING RESEARCH

Problem solving: Identify important historical and contemporary issues relating to gender and women's studies, evaluate various responses to them, and adapt the knowledge gained through this process to everyday situations

Research Skills: Produce or locate resources and learn to build a research agenda. Read broadly in order to develop well-focused projects, using primary and secondary sources. Delineate key points in scholarly articles and respond to them. Use different modes of research, including empirical methods, scholarly literature, and theoretical and artistic engagement. Develop advanced library skills tailored to specific research projects, including facility with electronic databases, bibliographic reference materials, archival documents, and image and sound repositories


Interdisciplinarity: Draw from multiple fields of study or define new fields; grasp means and significance of expanding, crossing, transgressing, or bridging disciplinary boundaries

WAYS OF COMMUNICATING
Visual Media and New Technologies: Evaluate, interpret, and generate information from a variety of sources, including print and electronic media, film and video, and internet technologies

Written and Verbal Communication: Express ideas effectively, both verbally and in written form, tailoring arguments and presentation styles to audience and context


GWS-specific Learning Goals

KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THE FIELD


Intersectionality: Analyze gender as it intersects with other relations of power, such as race, ethnicity, sexuality, class, nationality, religion, geography, ability, and age; distinguish universalist understandings of gender, women and sexuality from multi-dimensional analyses that recognize interconnectivity and mutual constitution of categories

Gender issues: Recognize the social, political, economic, national, and cultural dimensions of gender as these relate to disparities in power and privilege. Become familiar with a range of past and present major issues pertaining to gender, such as race and citizenship, reproductive and sexual politics, media representation, understandings of masculinities and femininities, racialization of gender and sexuality, women's enfranchisement, gender and violence, identity politics, immigration, sex discrimination, changing families, gender and environment, labor, language, health disparities, gender and science, histories of colonialism, nation-state formations

Feminisms, Feminist Theories and Feminist Research: Describe and distinguish a broad range of feminist theories and practices in their specific cultural and historical contexts both nationally and internationally; identify the contributions and limits of disciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdiciplinary feminist research and scholarship

Historicization and contextualization: Articulate differences in sociopolitical contexts that inform opinions, theories, identities, subcultures and politics pertaining to gender and sexuality. Discuss issues of gender and sexuality in the context of their specific histories, knowledge frames, and politics. Work flexibly with a variety of epistemological approaches, recognizing each as culturally specific and inherently limited

 

CRITICAL PRACTICE


Creativity: Bring together a variety of texts, ideas, theoretical, political, empirical, aesthetic and rhetorical approaches in order to respond imaginatively to social, political and intellectual issues

Collaboration: Work collectively, take initiative, offer and receive constructive criticism, exchange ideas and creatively work together toward a common endeavor

Engaged Practices: Engage in a variety of feminist approaches, linking theory with practice. Learn how to be an effective advocate informed by transnational, political, sociocultural, and philosophical contexts

Knowledge production: Understand that social, cultural, and scientific knowledges are rarely pre-given, but produced. Demonstrate ways in which various cultural practices, including cultural traditions, academic practices, and information genres participate in and shape specific productions of knowledge, considering roles played by aesthetic forms, scientific journals, popular fiction, news media, the Internet, and practices of citation.

 

Ethics: Articulate ethical positions of scholarly and activist theories of gender; that is, consider what approaches inform value judgments on specific gendered or feminist practices. Understand other ethical research concerns such as human subjects and plagiarism

 

Critical self-awareness: Demonstrate self-reflexivity about one's ideas and social and political positions

 

Gender and Women's Studies Undergradguate Learning Goals Prerequisite Core Courses Elective Courses
Learning Goals GWS10, Intro to Gender and Women's Studies GWS20, Introduction to Feminist Theory GWS101, Doing Feminist Research GWS102, Transnational Feminisms GWS103, Identities Across Difference GWS104, Feminist Theory GWS195, Senior Seminar  
GWS-specific:    
Knowledge about the field    
Intersectionality: Analyze gender as it intersects with other relations of power, such as race, ethnicity, sexuality, class, nationality, religion, geography, ability, and age; distinguish universalist understandings of gender, women and sexuality from multi-dimensional analyses that recognize interconnectivity and mutual constitution of categories
Begin
Begin
Extend
Extend
Extend
Extend
Full
Extend
Gender issues: Recognize the social, political, economic, national, and cultural dimensions of gender as these relate to disparities in power and privilege. Become familiar with a range of past and present major issues pertaining to gender, such as race and citizenship, reproductive and sexual politics, media representation, understandings of masculinities and femininities, racialization of gender and sexuality, women's enfranchisement, gender and violence, identity politics, immigration, sex discrimination, changing families, gender and environment, labor, language, health disparities, gender and science, histories of colonialism, nation-state formations
Begin
Begin
Extend
Extend
Extend
Extend
Full
Extend
Feminisms, Feminist Theories and Feminist Research: Describe and distinguish a broad range of feminist theories and practices in their specific cultural and historical contexts both nationally and internationally; identify the contributions and limits of disciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdiciplinary feminist research and scholarship  
Begin
Extend
Extend
Extend
Extend
Full
Extend
Historicization and contextualization: Articulate differences in sociopolitical contexts that inform opinions, theories, identities, subcultures and politics pertaining to gender and sexuality. Discuss issues of gender and sexuality in the context of their specific histories, knowledge frames, and politics. Work flexibly with a variety of epistemological approaches, recognizing each as culturally specific and inherently limited  
Begin
Extend
Extend
Extend
Extend
Full
Extend
Critical Practice    
Creativity: Bring together a variety of texts, ideas, theoretical, political, empirical, aesthetic and rhetorical approaches in order to respond imaginatively to social, political and intellectual issues
Begin
Begin
Extend
Extend
Extend
Extend
Full
Extend
Collaboration: Work collectively, take initiative, offer and receive constructive criticism, exchange ideas and creatively work together toward a common endeavor
Begin
Begin
Extend
Extend
Extend
Extend
Full
Extend
Engaged Practices: Engage in a variety of feminist approaches, linking theory with practice. Learn how to be an effective advocate informed by transnational, political, sociocultural, and philosophical contexts
Begin
           
Extend
Knowledge production: Understand that social, cultural, and scientific knowledges are rarely pre-given, but produced. Demonstrate ways in which various cultural practices, including cultural traditions, academic practices, and information genres participate in and shape specific productions of knowledge, considering roles played by aesthetic forms, scientific journals, popular fiction, news media, the Internet, and practices of citation.
Begin
Begin
Extend
Extend
Extend
Extend
Full
Extend
Ethics: Articulate ethical positions of scholarly and activist theories of gender; that is, consider what approaches inform value judgments on specific gendered or feminist practices. Understand other ethical research concerns such as human subjects and plagiarism.
Begin
Begin
Extend
Extend
Extend
Extend
Full
Extend
Critical self-awareness: Demonstrate self-reflexivity about one's ideas and social and political positions
Begin
Begin
Extend
Extend
Extend
Extend
Full
Extend
General:    
Critical Thinking    
Critical analysis: Identify and evaluate arguments, rhetorical styles, synthesize ideas, and develop well-substantiated, coherent, and concise arguments  
Begin
Extend
Extend
Extend
Extend
Full
Extend
Logical reasoning: Identify and follow a logical sequence or argument through to its end; recognize faulty reasoning or premature closure
Begin
Begin
Extend
Extend
Extend
Extend
Full
Extend
Abstract thinking: Generalize for a specific purpose and/or in a way that clarifies and heightens understanding of major issues at stake; identify the essential or most relevant elements of a concept, event, object, text, etc.
Begin
Begin
Extend
Extend
Extend
Extend
Full
Extend
Argumentation: Marshal appropriate and relevant evidence in order to develop a clear claim or stance using specific rhetorical approaches  
Begin
Extend
Extend
Extend
Extend
Full
Extend
Doing Research    
Problem solving: Identify important historical and contemporary issues relating to gender and women's studies, evaluate various responses to them, and adapt the knowledge gained through this process to everyday situations
Begin
Begin
Extend
Extend
Extend
Extend
Full
Extend
Research Skills: Produce or locate resources and learn to build a research agenda. Read broadly in order to develop well-focused projects, using primary and secondary sources. Delineate key points in scholarly articles and respond to them. Use different modes of research, including empirical methods, scholarly literature, and theoretical and artistic engagement. Develop advanced library skills tailored to specific research projects, including facility with electronic databases, bibliographic reference materials, archival documents, and image and sound repositories    
Begin
Extend
Extend
Extend
Full
Extend
Interdisciplinarity: Draw from multiple fields of study or define new fields; grasp means and significance of expanding, crossing, transgressing, or bridging disciplinary boundaries
Begin
Begin
Extend
Extend
Extend
Extend
Full
Extend
Ways of Communicating    
Visual Media and New Technologies: Evaluate, interpret, and generate information from a variety of sources, including print and electronic media, film and video, and internet technologies
Begin
 
Extend
 
Extend
 
Extend
Communication: Express ideas effectively, both verbally and in written form, tailoring arguments and presentation styles to audience and context  
Begin
Extend
Extend
Extend
Extend
Full
Extend