GSWS Experiences

Each of our courses and programs engages students in unique and meaningful ways. Here are some examples:

Sex and Power

In the Fall of 2019 this course hosted a visiting feminist artist and activist from Poland, Monika Drozinska. The students participated in a number of performances, workshops, and talks given by the artist, as they explored the issues of gendered spaces and used embroidery as a strategy of feminist intervention and disruption.

Images 1, 2, 3, 4: Students embroidering feminist messages on chairs in the University of Rochester public spaces for an installation "Walls Do not Talk, but Chairs Do."

Images 5, 6, 7: Students at the University of Rochester participate in the day-long workshop/performance/installation by Monika Drozinska. Together, they made an embroidery, "3.5%", to remind the university community that it only takes 3.5% of population to bring about change. 

Student embroidering a cloth chair
Sex and Power, Image 1 


Student-embroidered chair
Sex and Power, Image 2


Students embroidering cloth chair back
Sex and Power, Image 3


students stand with embroidered chairs
Sex and Power, Image 4


Students embroider banner
Sex and Power, Image 5


Students embroider banner
Sex and Power, Image 6


Students display embroidered banner
Sex and Power, Image 7

Politics of Nature: Race, Gender, and Environment

This course uses an intersectional ecofeminist lens to explore the relationship between the environment and social inequality, focusing specifically on issues of gender, race, and class. Over the years students in this course have participated in a number of activities and events that allowed them to interrogate a variety of issues, including climate change and environmental justice, poverty and natural resources, and food justice and sustainability.

Image 1: The students in the course took a three-day hiking trip to the Adirondacks where they climbed Algonquin Mountain and explored the idea of the racialized and gendered outdoors.

Image 2: Students are visiting the community partner, First Market Farm, to study the issues of urban farming, land ownership, and food justice - and to begin working on a community-engaged project.

Image 3, 4, 5: Students are working with a visiting ecofeminist artist from Poland, Cecylia Malik, creating an installation for her ongoing project "Sisters Rivers." 

People standing on a mountain top
Politics of Nature, Image 1


Students standing in a community garden
Politics of Nature, Image 2


Students making signs
Politics of Nature, Image 3


Students displaying handmade signs
Politics of Nature, Image 4
Students with signs by river
Politics of Nature, Image 5

History of Feminisms: Colloquium

Students in this course dive deeper into topics and theories related to Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies, with a focus on histories of feminisms. The course looks at the history of international feminism and explore its many faces, and examines the various factors that have contributed to women’s historically lower status in society. Students look at the emergence of women’s rights and feminist movements as well as the distinctions among various feminist theories, and discuss the relevance of feminism today.

For the Spring 2020 offering of this course, Ximena Reyes Torres (an undergraduate student) created The Feminist Agenda, a website to help people gain an understanding of feminism through easily accessed videos on important histories and topics related to feminism.

Ximena shared: "I believe that the ultimate goal of feminism is to provide all humans with freedom which stems from our ability to make fully informed choices despite any material, social, and political constraints...In creating this site, I hope to provide a foundational and accessible understanding of feminisms and feminist theory."

photo of Ximena Reyes Torres

Food Matters: Gender, Religion, Ethnicity, and Consumerism (with Heather Layton)

Central to human experience, food serves not only as a source of substance but also as a marker of our identities. Through our choices in food, we send complex messages to others about our family and culture, our religious, racial, and gender identities, our relationship with health and wellness, and our place in the world. Food production and consumption can be used to exercise power and to define and reinforce gender, social, racial, and socioeconomic hierarchies in the modern world. Through a series of readings, films, lectures, cooking workshops, art projects, site visits, written reflections, and class discussions, students will examine the significance of food from personal and global perspectives. The course will culminate in the creation of a collaboratively authored and illustrated cookbook that exemplifies student research, reflection, and invention.

Image 1: Community urban agriculture activists Kris Walker and Tonya Noel, lead a discussion about urban agriculture and its connection to womanism, capitalism, eco-justice, African American identity and history, food apartheid, Rochester city policies, Black Lives Matter protests, neighborhood beautification, gentrification, class equity, health and nutrition, freedom for all, and gardens as spaces of healing.
Image 2: Visiting Ahmadiyya Muslim Community mosque in Rochester
Image 3: Feminist cupcakes prepares by Sara Murphy (a student)
Images 4 and 5: Students cooking dishes to discuss food and national identity
Image 6: students participate in a discussion led by a visiting artist Dawn Weleski and her Conflict Kitchen, together withe local community members

Student group with guest speaker
Food Matters, Image 1


Students in food class
Food Matters, Image 2


cupcakes with photos attached to each one
Food Matters, Image 3


Student pulling baked item out of an oven
Food Matters, Image 4


Student pouring a pot of liquid into another pot
Food Matters, Image 5


food matters course students
Food Matters, Image 6