University offers women's studies minor
Posted: 12/22/2005
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A new minor in women's studies in the Department of History and Philosophy will open up new educational avenues for students at The University of Texas-Pan American beginning spring 2006.

UT Pan American recently added a new 18-hour women's studies minor to the University curriculum in an effort to offer a more diverse educational experience, said Dr. Rodolfo Arévalo, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.

Pictured front row left to right are Dr. Rosalva Resendíz, assistant professor of criminal justice; Dr. Velma Menchaca, interim dean of the College of Education; Dr. Olga Ramírez, committee chair and professor of mathematics; and Dr. Anita Pankake, professor of educational leadership. Pictured back row left to right are Dr. Jennifer R. Mata, coordinator of the women's studies minor and assistant professor of history and philosophy; Dr. Sandra Sánchez, associate professor of nursing; Dr. Penny Adair, associate professor of history and philosophy; and Dr. Servando Hinojosa, associate professor of psychology and anthropology. Members of the 2003-2005 Women's Studies Committee not pictured are Juana Cantú-Cabrera, nursing lecturer; Juanita Garza, history and philosophy lecturer; Dr. Genaro Gonzales, professor of psychology and anthropology; Dr. Wendy Innis-Whitehouse, assistant professor of chemistry; Dr. Jessica Lavariega Monforti, political science research scholar; Dr. Angela Vergara Marshall, assistant professor of history and philosophy; and Dr. Danika Brown, assistant professor of English. Dr. Lee Davinroy, assistant professor of English, who passed away this year, was also a member of the committee.
"The minor in women's studies provides an opportunity for students from across the University to learn more about the role of women in American society and to focus on the contributions and social engagement of women in all facets of the development of critical thought," Arévalo said.

Dr. Jennifer Mata, coordinator for the women's studies minor and assistant professor of history and philosophy at UTPA, said the new minor will help students understand the world around them better.

"One of the central tenants of women's studies is that it links the personal and the political. People do not realize it, but their everyday interactions are based on power relationships - from family to work to personal - and I think this minor opens up the avenue to think about the historical, political, and gendered structures that affect all aspects of our lives," Mata said.

Women's studies programs focus on the gendered status of women throughout the range of societal institutions and social behavioral norms. The fundamental nature of women's studies programs encourages the exchange of ideas among scholars from different disciplines and backgrounds and expands students' awareness of the world around them.

The minor will also offer students viewpoints which are not offered in traditional or male-dominated classrooms, she said, which is important since more than half of the population in the United States and the world is female.

"I think that this minor is important for women and men. For women the classes do provide a sense of empowerment because they are classes that are grounded in not only the personal, but academic research. For men, it also helps them to see the larger issues as well," Mata said. "It opens up dialogue and it also allows for new ways to change the world for the better."

The program, which was initiated in 2003, will begin offering classes next semester including Intro to Women's Studies (WMST 1301), Women's Literature (WMST 3343/ENGL 3343) and Women in Music (WMST 3307/MUSC 3307). Future classes include Women's Studies Theory, Method and Practice, Capstone Seminar in Women's Studies and Gender in a Global Perspective, among others.

A book fund to create a women's studies library is being established in honor of the late Dr. Ellise "Lee" Davinroy, a former UTPA assistant professor of English, who was instrumental in the program's early development.

For more information about the new women's studies minor, contact Mata at 956/381-2323.