Center for Intersectional Gender Studies & Research
In August 2019, Utah State University announced plans for the next phase of its academic programs and research efforts in the area of gender studies. The new Center for Intersectional Gender Studies and Research will build upon the highly successful history of the university’s Center for Women and Gender.
The new center will leave in place the important mission of the Center for Women and Gender while at the same time broadening and strengthening USU’s long-term commitment to students, faculty and women on campus, in particular. It will be housed under the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
Student support programming under the former Center for Women and Gender is now provided by the USU Inclusion Center. This move provides more cohesive support for students with intersecting identities, for example, women of color, transgender women and LGBTQ women.
The university continues to ensure academic continuity for students in the current women and gender studies program, and scholarship agreements will continue to be honored and managed according to their designated purpose. Popular events held by the former center, such as the welcoming of new faculty, will also continue.
An advisory board will lead the transition of academic and research programs under the new center, including expanding the curriculum of academic programs. The advisory board includes representatives from all eight colleges, as well as those listed above who were involved in evaluating the gender studies programs at USU. Christy Glass will serve a two-year appointment as the interim director and will chair a search committee for a permanent director.
What is Intersectionality?
Coined in 1989 by professor Kimberlé Crenshaw to describe how race, class, gender, and other individual characteristics “intersect” with one another and overlap, intersectionality is a framework for conceptualizing a person, group of people, or social problem as affected by a number of discriminations and disadvantages. It considers people’s overlapping identities and experiences in order to understand the complexity of prejudices they face.
In other words, intersectional theory asserts that people are often disadvantaged by multiple sources of oppression: their race, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, and other identity markers. Intersectionality recognizes that identity markers (e.g. “female” and “black”) do not exist independently of each other, and that each informs the others, often creating a complex convergence of oppression.
As a pioneer in critical race theory, Kimberlé Crenshaw helped open the discussion of the double bind faced by victims of simultaneous racial and gender prejudice. In this moving talk, she calls on us to bear witness to this reality and speak up for victims of prejudice.