Women's and Gender Studies Program & Minor

Discover, Engage, Transform

University of Detroit Mercy's Women's and Gender Studies (WGS) Program is a diversity and social-justice-focused area of study that examines how our beliefs about gender and sexuality shape our personal identities and the world we live in. The program also examines how gender and sexuality intersect with other facets of our identities such as race, class, nationality, ability and age. WGS draws on many academic disciplines to ask questions about the roles gender and sexuality play in key areas of the human experience such as: Politics, Popular Culture, Religion, Science, Law, History, Art, Economics, Health, Education, Citizenship and Families.

The WGS Program offers a multifaceted approach for students to discover, engage and transform through the lens of women's and gender issues:

  • Academic Minor: This 18-credit minor creates an academic foundation for students to develop their abilities to critically examine the place of women and gender in culture and society.
  • Social Justice Activism: WGS sponsors activities that promote awareness of important local, national and global issues; raise monies to support social change and enable students to contribute their time and talents to causes important to them.
  • Grants: WGS provides grants to students and faculty related to events and projects focused on gender and sexuality. Read more about this below.
  • Writing Competitions: Annually, WGS awards prizes to student authors of poetry, academic essays, short fiction and personal essays that explore issues of gender, sexuality and/or feminist thought.
  • Events/Speakers: WGS brings local and national speakers to campus on a variety of topics including hip hop;  marriage equality; activist journalism; gender, race and history; sexual consent; violence and sports; and global feminism.
  • Arts: Arts programming around WGS issues includes plays, films, concerts and international art shows. WGS minors students attend these events for free and often have special opportunities to meet and talk with the artists.

WGS Minor

The WGS Minor is highly flexible and can be tailored to your personal, academic and professional interests. All students take WGS 2000: Gender, Sex, and Justice and choose five additional courses from a range of academic disciplines. The WGS minor can complement a wide variety of majors in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences.

Many of our most popular WGS Courses also fulfill your Detroit Mercy Core Curriculum requirements so you can earn a WGS minor without taking a lot of extra classes! This is a great option for students with demanding majors or who want to earn more than one minor.

Sample Classes & Online Resources

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    Sample Classes

    Below is a list of classes from the winter 2021 semester.  Fall 2021 classes will be posted once they are available.

    Winter 2021 courses

    WGS 2000: Gender, Sex, and Justice (CRN: 20461)Genevieve Meyers100% online, asynchronous

    Provides students with an introduction to the discipline and critical rubrics of Women's and Gender Studies including: the development of major theoretical concepts and issues of feminist and gender theories; strategies of resistance and activism; history of the women's and gender movements in the U.S.; global feminisms; and critical reflection on particular aspects of women's daily lives such as violence, sexuality, reproduction, representations of the body, creativity, law, politics and religion.—Also fulfills New Core IT4 and IT6 / Old Core 6B ENL 2450-01: Study of Poetry (CRN: 20905)Megan Novell100% online, TR 11:20-12:35

    Discussion and close analysis of poems, designed to improve critical skills, increase understanding of the genre of poetry, and show how poets voice the human concerns of their time. Discussion and close analysis of several forms of poetry, designed to improve critical skills and increase understanding of the genre of poetry and its role as a cultural artifact. By the end of the semester, students should be conversant with the basic elements and terminology used in the study of poetry. In addition, upon completion of the course, students should have an awareness of a variety of critical perspectives. —Also fulfills New Core E2 / Old Core 5B.ENL 2750-01: Diverse Voices in Literature (CRN: 26109)Megan Novell100% online, W 4:00-6:30 p.m.

    Introduces students to issues of difference, identity, and literary representation through the careful analysis of texts drawn from a wide range of voices and multiple genres. Students explore how authors negotiate the complex relationships between aesthetic, cultural, and political dimensions in their work. By the end of the semester students will demonstrate an ability to analyze literary texts and develop a critical vocabulary and set of reading and writing practices for approaching a wide range of human differences. Also fulfills New Core IT4 and IT6 / Old Core 5D.

    PHL 3081: Philosophy of Feminism (CRN: 25663)Gail Presbey100% online, asynchronous

    The course presents some key feminist critiques of the male philosophical canon, and then explores contributions of feminist philosophers to clarify key concepts such as the conceptions of gender, the body, sexual orientation, justice and care. Feminist philosophical approaches will be applied to current problems such as racism, environmental destruction, war and violence, and human rights violations. Debates within feminist scholarship will be followed, with students learning to articulate their own positions on a range of issues. The course surveys feminist challenges in North America, Asia, Islamic societies, Latin America and Africa. Prerequisite: PHL 1000 (Minimum Grade of D; may not be taken concurrently). Also fulfills New Core D3, IT3, and IT4 / Old Core 4C.PYC 2750: Human Sexuality (CRN: 25239)(Instructor to be announced)100% online, TR 9:55-11:10 a.m.

    Study of approaches to sexuality in order to promote a deeper understanding of the central role which sexuality plays in human life. Aspects of sexuality include evolutionary, genetic, physiological, hormonal, developmental, emotional, dynamic, interpersonal, legal and cultural. Particular emphasis is placed on appreciating functional explanations for many common and uncommon behaviors associated with human sexuality. Also fulfills New Core IT4 / Old Core 3C or 5D.

    PYC 3400: Family Development and Parenting (CRN: 26647)(Instructor to be announced)100% online, W 4:00-6:30 p.m.

    Study of families and parenting in a diverse and changing world. This course critically analyzes family theories, diversity of family structures, roles of men, women and children, family developmental crises, family communications and family stressors. Topics include advanced techniques of parenting and child guidance, approaches to family support and parent education, and environmental parenting approaches for evaluating and supporting parenting relationships across the lifespan. Prerequisite: PYC 1000 (Minimum Grade of D; May not be taken concurrently).

    PYC 3540: Sex Differences and Sex Roles (CRN: 20726)Elizabeth Hill100% online, R 4:00-6:30 p.m.

    Introduction to human sex differences resulting from cultural factors acting on biologically based dispositions. This course explores many influences, social, political, genetic, hormonal - which cause men and women to behave differently. Prerequisite: PYC 1000 (Minimum Grade of D; may not be taken concurrently). Also fulfills New Core IT1 and IT4 / Old Core 3C or 6B.

    RELS 3610: Religions and Sci-Fi (CRN: 26138)Hsiao-Lan Hu100% online, T 4:00-6:30 p.m.

    This course will employ the academic approach of cultural studies and lead students to examine the representations or misrepresentations of religions in Sci-Fi films and television series, discern their endorsements or criticisms of traditional religious doctrines, investigate their anxiety about or celebration of cross-cultural and interreligious encounters, examine the fairness or the lack thereof in their portrayal of the gender, racial, cultural, or religious "others," and critique the genre from the perspectives of gender justice, racial justice, and inter-cultural justice. Also fulfills New Core D3 and IT4 / Old Core 4B or 4C.


    Online WGS Resources

Available WGS Program Grants

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    The Jane Schaberg WGS Student Grants

    The Jane Schaberg Women’s and Gender Studies Student Grants are named in honor of the late Jane Schaberg, Professor Emerita of Religious Studies, who helped found and direct the WGS program at Detroit Mercy.

    These yearly grants of up to $200 are awarded to current Detroit Mercy students and student organizations who wish to provide their fellow students with opportunities to engage with women's and gender issues. These opportunities can take the form of activities, community projects, or academic projects. Activities and projects that examine women’s and gender issues in connection with culture, race, class, or sexuality are welcome.

    Possible activities, community projects, or academic projects include but are not limited to:  

    • Speaker honorariums 
    • Service-learning projects 
    • Student-sponsored movie nights 
    • Refreshments for WGS-oriented events 
    • Travel to conferences to present WGS-related academic work 
    • Production of videos regarding gender/racial justice that can be posted on WGS website and social media

    For more information on applying for a grant, contact Dr. Hsiao-Lan Hu, Director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, at hhu@udmercy.edu.

    Frequently Asked Questions about the Jane Schaberg Student Grants

    1. Who can apply? Current undergraduate and graduate students, and university-recognized student organizations.
    2. What types of projects get funded? Past grants have been awarded in support of a wide range of activities, community projects, and academic projects, such as:
    • Bringing an international poet to Detroit Mercy to recite her work and speak on trauma, journey, and the modern stories of Muslim women
    • The publication and performance of a student chapbook of written and visual art that engaged issues of gender
    • A Ph.D. Capstone project on vicarious trauma and its effects on sexual assault nurse examiners
    • The student group SPECTRUM’s “LGBT? Fine By Me” t-shirt event
    • The Chemistry Club’s Women in Science Symposium

    All funded proposals have shared the following characteristics:

    • The activities/projects were clearly described (who, what, where, when, and why)
    • The proposals stated exactly how the activities/projects would enable other Detroit Mercy students to engage with women's and/or gender issues.
    • The activities/projects were narrow enough in scope that the students could successfully complete them within the required timeframe 
    1. I have an idea, but I am not 100% sure about it or about how to write the proposal. Is there anyone I can talk to before applying? Yes! In fact, you are required to meet with a member of the WGS Steering Committee, to make sure your project and rollout plans meet grant criteria, at least one week before the grant application deadline. No application will be accepted without a project consultation prior to submission.
    2. Can I apply for money to pay my tuition or buy books for my classes? No, the grant does not cover individual students’ tuition or books.
    3. Can I apply for a grant to partially fund an activity or project? Yes, you may apply for a grant to partially fund larger activities or projects. We ask, however, that you indicate who the other sponsors are/might be and when you will know if you will receive the additional funds.
    4. Can my friend and I both apply for grants for the same project? No, only one grant will be awarded per project, but you can apply jointly for a single grant.

    Interested in applying? Contact Dr. Hsiao-Lan Hu, Director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, at hhu@udmercy.edu, to get an application form and set up your project consultation!


    WGS Feminist Scholarship Grants

    Application Guidelines

    The University of Detroit Mercy Women’s and Gender Studies Program is now accepting applications for the Feminist Scholarship Grants (FSG). These yearly grants of up to $500 are awarded to current full-time, part-time, and adjunct faculty members to support scholarly projects which critically examine the place of women and/or gender in culture and society.  Consideration will be given to projects which use feminist and gender theory to analyze the origins and effects of power, dominance, and gender roles and relations.  Projects which examine women’s and gender issues in connection with examination of race, class, and/or sexuality are also welcome.

    Applications will be accepted for scholarly projects which are in the beginning, middle, and concluding stages of completion. Applicants may submit multiple applications over several years in support of the beginning, middle, and concluding stages of one project.

    Applications for the following expenditures in connection with a scholarly project will be considered:

    1. Research materials (books, films, interview equipment, etc.).
    2. Financial assistance for travel to a conference at which the applicant is presenting a paper or project.
    3. Financial assistance for travel to archival or library collections.

    Applications for other expenses will be accepted if accompanied by a detailed rationale.

    The FSG may be applied to expenses which were incurred / will be incurred between July 1 and May 31of the following year. Successful applicants must provide original receipts for their expenses and the receipts must be submitted along with an Employee Expense and Reimbursement form by June 1 in order to qualify for reimbursement.

    Successful applicants will be required to present their work at a WGS-sponsored research event by October 31 of the academic year following the date of the awarding of the FSG.  Thus, an applicant who is awarded a FSG must present his or her work no later than October 31.

    Application Process

    The FSG  deadline is January 20. Applications for the FSG will be blind-reviewed by the Women’s and Gender Studies Program’s Steering Committee.

    Applications must include the following:

    1. Applicant’s name, Department affiliation, phone number, and email address.
    2. A working title for the scholarly project.
    3. A 1-2 page description of the scholarly project for which the applicant seeks financial assistance, including the stage of completion of the project—is this a new project, a continuation of a project, the conclusion of a project?  In addition, this description must include a clear explanation of how the project fulfills the criteria for the FSG as detailed in the opening paragraph above. 
    4. The amount of funding sought (up to $500) and a detailed explanation (itemized, when possible) of how the monies will be used to support the scholarly project (e.g., research materials, travel expenses for conference, expenses for travel to archive/library, other).

    Completed applications should be sent as a Microsoft Word document to Hsiao-Lan Hu at hhu@udmercy.edu. All questions also can be directed to her by email or at 3-1083. Early submissions are encouraged.


    Feminist Teaching Grants

    Application Guidelines

    The University of Detroit Mercy Women’s and Gender Studies Program is now accepting applications for the Feminist Teaching Grants (FTG). These yearly grants of up to $500 are awarded to current full-time, part-time, or adjunct faculty members to support the development of courses that will expand the academic offerings of the University of Detroit Mercy Women’s and Gender Studies Program. The grants reimburse faculty expenditures in this area. Preference will be given to courses that expand the Program’s course offerings in the new Core Curriculum.

    The FTG  deadline is  January 20. Applications for the FTG will be evaluated by the Women’s and Gender Studies Program’s Curriculum and Steering Committees.

    Proposals should be submitted as a Microsoft Word document and should:

    1. Include the applicant’s name, phone number, email address, and Departmental affiliation.
    2. Identify whether s/he plans to:

    a. Enrich a departmental course that currently is being offered for Women’s and Gender Studies course credit;
    b. Transform an existing departmental course into a course that could be offered for Women’s and Gender Studies course credit;
    c. Create a new departmental course that meets the Women’s and Gender Studies Program Course Criteria (see below)

    In this section applicants should also:

    Provide a one-paragraph summary of how, specifically, the s/he plans to enrich, transform, or create the WGS course

    Indicate the frequency with which s/he, personally, is likely to offer the proposed course (for example, “I currently teach this course once a semester,” or “This course is offered once a year and faculty are free to request it,” or “My Department has already approved the creation of this new course and plans on submitting it to the Curriculum committee. We anticipate it will be taught every second year.”)

    Indicate whether the course is currently offered in the new Core curriculum or is being submitted for inclusion in the new Core curriculum

    3. Provide a one- to two-page explanation as to how the course will meet the Women’s and Gender Studies Program Course Criteria (see below)

    4. Include a requested grant amount and describe how the monies will be used to support the development of the course (e.g., “Funds will be used to purchase the following texts/supplies,” or “Funds will be used to support travel to _________ conference which will enable me to ______.”). Expenses must produce receipts and the receipts must be submitted along with an Employee Expense and Reimbursement Form to the WGS program by June 1 to qualify for reimbursement.

    Completed proposals should be sent to Pat Rouen, Chair of the WGS Curriculum Committee, at rouenpa@udmercy.edu. All questions also can be directed to her by email or at 3-1739. Early submissions are encouraged.

    I. Criteria for Approval of Women’s and Gender Studies Courses:

    The Women’s and Gender Studies Program is essential to the mission of University of Detroit Mercy, extending the mandate for respect of persons to those traditionally marginalized in society and in the academic pursuit of knowledge. Academic excellence is achieved only when all voices contribute to each discipline.

    The Women’s and Gender Studies Program critically examines the place of women and gender in culture and society. Feminist theory is applied to traditional disciplines to analyze the origins and effects of power, dominance, and gender. Since women's and gender issues encompass and modify all areas of knowledge, and since such issues as race, class, and sexuality are crucial aspects of such experiences, the program is necessarily interdisciplinary and multi-cultural.

    A. Content Requirements:
    Course content must clearly reflect and acquaint students with recent scholarship on feminist theory and women, gender, and/or sexuality. The course syllabus should be composed primarily (75% or more) of works about women, gender, and/or sexuality. If, for historical or disciplinary reasons, the subject of the course precludes this, then the texts used should consistently be put into a dialogue with feminist perspectives.

    B. Methodology Requirements:
    Each Women's and Gender Studies course should have clear intellectual goals that integrate both the content and issues of the instructor's specific discipline and the overarching concerns of Women's and Gender Studies. For example, a history course entitled "Women in Modern Europe" class might have the primary goals of: 1) enabling students to use gender as a category of analysis in the study of modern European history, and 2) providing students with an understanding of women's roles in and contributions to the social, political, and cultural developments in Europe from the period of the Enlightenment to the present. In addition, WGS courses should critically examine the gender assumptions in the traditional methodologies, theories, and research of particular disciplines and/or explore the production of knowledge in the arts and sciences as it reflects, challenges, or creates cultural assumptions about gender.
    As part of the WGS Program’s curriculum, a WGS course should also promote one or more of the Program’s outcomes, advancing students’ abilities to:

    1. Demonstrate knowledge of the major concepts and issues of the discipline of Women’s and Gender Studies;
    2. Analyze structures of power, dominance, subordination, and gender roles and relations;
    3. Recognize the ways in which gender intersects with race, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, nation, and/or other identity categories; and/or
    4. Use this knowledge to reflect critically and thoughtfully upon their own academic, personal, and professional lives, as well as their communities.

    C. Pedagogical Requirements:

    Women’s and Gender Studies courses should be taught in a way that fosters the empowerment of all students and that equips students to identify and critically analyze gender relations and systems of domination so they can develop their own informed positions on issues raised in the class.

    II. Procedure for Approval of Courses in the Women’s and Gender Studies Program

    Undergraduate courses taught in all University of Detroit Mercy Colleges and Departments are eligible to be considered for inclusion in the Women’s and Gender Studies Program. Accepted courses retain their normal departmental prefix and number (for example, “ENL 2360” or “BUS 2480”) but are designated with an attribute in the online schedule as counting for “WOMENS AND GENDER STUDIES MINOR CREDIT.”

    Faculty members who wish to offer courses for Women’s and Gender Studies Minor credit should submit their syllabi to the Curriculum Committee. Please contact Pat Rouen at 313-993-1739 / rouenpa@udmercy.edu to arrange the submission of your materials and/or if you have any questions. The members of the Women’s and Gender Studies Curriculum Committee are available for consultation with faculty who are revising or creating courses for Women’s and Gender Studies Minor credit.

    Suggested questions to consider when developing course materials:

    1. How are women, gender, and/or sexuality studied in this course? Are women treated as objects or subjects of study, or both? If both, how, if at all, is this distinction articulated?
    2. Do critical and/or creative works about women, gender, and/or sexuality comprise at least 75% of the required texts? Alternatively, if the subject of the course precludes this, are the texts used put into a dialogue with feminist perspectives?
    3. Does the course syllabus reflect familiarity with current feminist research in the appropriate field? How?
    4. How does the course apply feminist theories, criticism, or methods to the subject of study? How?
    5. If the course is in a particular discipline, are scholarly feminist critiques of that discipline’s traditional perspectives incorporated into the course? How?
    6. Do the course requirements encourage students to engage in feminist criticism and/or research? How?
    7. Does the course recognize the diversity of women and women’s experience by consciously including that diversity (i.e. women of color, women of developing nations, lesbian women, class issues, as well as Euro-American or European women) or by acknowledging the particular limitations in scope, focus, etc. of the course?
    8. What is/are the overarching intellectual goal/s of the course? How do this/these goal/s integrate both the content and issues of the instructor’s specific discipline and the overarching concerns of Women’s and Gender Studies?

Program Mission

The Women's and Gender Studies faculty and program at University of Detroit Mercy have always been firmly committed to issues of social justice, equity, and the recognition and examination of underrepresented and disadvantaged peoples. Drawing upon this commitment, the Women's and Gender Studies Minor will work with its students to prepare them for a life committed to the integration of intellect, spirit, ethics, and social development. While the minor will aid students in their own personal integration of these fundamental aspects of a fully human experience, the nature of the courses required for the minor will likewise prepare students to seek out and create opportunities for such integration of their academic, personal, and professional lives, as well as in their communities. The WGS Minor will aid students in their understanding of differences among the people of the world, of differences of race, ethnicity, religion, culture, gender, and class by exposing them to such differences and by teaching them the techniques of critical thinking by which stereotypes and inequalities are exposed. The minor will graduate students eager to model and enact the integration of intellectual pursuits with pursuing and enacting beneficial change.

Affiliated Disciplines

Professors from a variety of other disciplines assist in this program.

  • Architecture
  • Community Development
  • English
  • History
  • Libraries/IDS
  • Math and Computer Science
  • Nursing
  • Performing Arts
  • Philosophy
  • Psychology
  • Religious Studies

Image displaying many reasons to minor in women's and gender studies

What WGS Students & Alumni Like Most about the Program: 

Great Professors
Expanding Their World Views
Variety of Courses
Friendships with Other WGS Students
Becoming Agents for Social Change

Developing as Leaders
Real-World Projects
Shattering Stereotypes
Finding Their Voices
Learning to Speak and Write Powerfully

Affiliated Faculty

  • Dawn Archey, Math and Computer Science
  • Lori Glenn, Nursing
  • Greg Grobis, Performing Arts
  • Mary-Catherine Harrison, English
  • Todd Hibbard, Religious Studies
  • Amanda Hiber, English
  • Elizabeth Hill, Psychology
  • Heather Hill, English
  • Hsiao-Lan Hu, Religious Studies
  • Kris McLonis, Libraries/IDS
  • Beth Oljar, Philosophy
  • Allegra Pitera, Architecture
  • Gail Presbey, Philosophy
  • Diane Robinson-Dunn, History
  • Patricia Rouen, Nursing
  • Rosemary Weatherston, English

What are alumni saying?


Rehab Zahid"With the WGS minor, I felt like I was truly learning more about myself as a person. The WGS minor not only challenges you, it makes you reflect on current issues and helps you empathize different perspectives in life.”

— Rehab Zahid ’21
Licensed Phlebotomist, Ford Biomedical Lab; Dental School applicant
Major: Biology | Minor: WGS

Hannah Tillman"I think the best tool I've acquired from this program is the ability to analyze in real time basic intersections of identity and how they are interacting and presenting within a person. In other words, I've been given a Rosetta Stone to facilitate dialogue between different people and different understandings.”

Hannah Tillman ’19
Junior Technical Writer, H20.ai
Majors: English, Psychology | Minor: WGS

Angie"WGS taught me to re-think the ideas I’d been socialized to believe in all my life, especially ideas about gender and sexuality. Rather than accept information at face-value, WGS showed me how to more thoughtfully engage with societal and social structures that have and continue to contribute to oppression as well as it has taught me to potentially find liberation in the midst of it all."

Angie Merila '16
Assistant Editor, History & Sociology, W. W. Norton & Company; New York, NY
Major: Religious Studies | Minor: WGS

Charlotte Rossler

"The WGS program at Detroit Mercy revealed different perspectives, especially women's perspectives, that are not frequently or sometimes ever, addressed in classes. It exposed me to different ways of thinking about the world. I am now more attentive to these alternative perspectives, peoples and struggles."

— Charlotte Rossler '15
Ph.D. Student in History at SUNY Stony Brook
Major: History | Minor: WGS


"The most important thing I got from the WGS program was networking and working professionally with many women of many different strengths. It sped up my emotional-professional intelligence so that I left communicating better with all genders."

— Anjelica Armendariz '10
Community Outreach Coordinator, She\Wellness, Seattle, WA
Major: English | Minor: WGS


"Minoring in WGS opened up a new lens in seeing gender equality and striving so that both genders granted the same rights. Also, it has allowed me to encourage other women, youth and children to understand they are capable of anything as long as they put their heart into it."

— Tracy Gallardo '14
Family Service Worker, Thrive by Five Head Start Program
Major: Social Work | Minor: WGS


"WGS was truly a program that influenced the way I view society, and showed me how we can bring the justice that oppressed communities deserve."

— Johnee Elhaouli '14
Clinical Care Manager, Institute on Aging, San Francisco, CA
Major: Social Work | Minor: WGS