home of understanding 

Hobart and William Smith hold the proud distinction of offering some of the oldest programs in gender and sexuality studies in the country. Since 1969, HWS has offered a program in women’s studies examining assumptions about women, gender, race and social class. In 2002, the colleges offered the first LGBTQ+ program in the country, exploring the lives, histories, cultures and experiences of queer people. 

The Colleges continue that tradition through the Gender, Sexuality, and Intersectional Justice (GSIJ) department, housing programs focused on gender, sexuality, disability and their many intersections in society. HWS’ location in proximity to landmarks such as the National Women’s Hall of Fame and the Women’s Rights National Historic Park in nearby Seneca Falls or the Equal Rights Heritage Center in Auburn makes HWS the perfect place to study the histories and participate in social activism for women, the LGBTQIA+ community and other marginalized groups.

Taking GSIJ courses, you'll be mentored by leading scholars who will support you on your educational journey.



Inspiring Programs

Top Faculty

Uncover feminist histories, explore what modern masculinity looks like or learn about social activist movements. At Hobart and William Smith, you can investigate these areas and others relating to sexuality, gender and ableism with a major or minor in Gender and Feminist Studies, LGBTQ+ Studies or Bodies, Disability, and Justice. Our award-winning faculty will challenge and support you through multi-disciplinary courses, that provide strong critical analysis and thinking skills. 

Discover the faculty of Gender, Sexuality, and Intersectional Justice:


Explore your own interests in topics of gender, sexuality, power and more through the department's multi-disciplinary courses.

Courses include:  

gsij 100 introduction to gender, sexuality, and intersectional justice 

Analyze the notion that sex, gender, sexuality, ability, race, and other categories of identity shape the social world in a myriad of ways, from how we organize our families and communities and how we spend time, to how we conceptualize the self and make meaning, to how we interact with our environment and create and re-create the body.

gsij 213 Transnational Feminisms

Investigate how gendered bodies travel, perform, and are understood in a wide variety of national, diasporic, and global media contexts, from theater and film, to politics and popular culture. 

gsij 247 History, Psychology, and Feminism 

Examine the intersecting stories of psychology and feminisim, from early case studies of hysteria and spiritualism through to mid-century depictions of the "mommy pill," "how the clinic made gender" and to late twentieth and early twenty-first century concerns around gender, race and bodies. 

gsij 250 chicana feminism and visual culture  

Discover Chicana feminism, from the emergence of Chicana as an identity category and its challenges to Chicano and feminist activism and the radical ways Chicanas have employed visual, performance, and graphic arts as a means of educating and catalyzing social change. 

gsij 300 Who's Afraid of Gender? questions of freedom & intersectional feminisms

Engage in matters of and movements for freedom, equality, justice and liberation through intersectional feminisms’ long history of thinkers and theory. 

gsij 305 food, feminism, and health  

Explore a variety of topics arising at the intersection of food, health, and the body, including agricultural sustainability, genetically modified foods, local food activism and nutrition and health policy. 


Students looking to engage more in their work can study and complete Honors and research projects in their chosen topic with the guidance of a faculty mentor.

Past examples of Honors projects include:

  • Kaitlyn Ruth Brathwaite '22: A Gold Earring-ed Ear to Guyana: The Unheard Voices of Guyanese Women Producing Feminism
    Michelle Martin-Baron, Adviser
  • Yamileth Cedeno ’20: The Black Body & Reproductive Trauma
    Michelle Martin-Baron, Adviser
  • Madeline Grace Cook ’19: A Critical Analysis of Mainstream U.S. Maternal Health and Birth Culture
    Michelle Martin-Baron, Adviser


Experiential EducationLearning Opportunities

Studying at HWS means you have freedom to explore your interests beyond the classroom.

lgbtq+ Resource center

Located on the first floor of deCordova Hall, the LGBTQ+ Resource Center supports and affirms gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, non-binary students, faculty and staff while fostering allies from the community as a whole. The Resource Center coordinates campus-wide programs every semester to enhance the community’s understanding and appreciation of LGBTQIA+ people, topics, and needs, including:

  • Queer Trivia
  • Movie Night 
  • Transgender Day of Visibility 
  • National Coming Out Day
  • Lavender Graduation 

rebecca mcmillan fox Center

The Rebecca McMillan Fox Center, located at the pond-level of Miller Hall, offers a quiet, cozy space for students to meet, study or access books on a myriad of topics. Additionally, the space is often host to social gatherings with board games and a TV available. 


fisher center

Since its founding in 1998, the Fisher Center for the Study of Gender and Justice has hosted events and speakers from across the world, challenging norms and preconceptions in the arts, social sciences, humanities and natural sciences. Programming encourages students and faculty to come together for discussions and activism on critical issues, while engaging with experts from various disciplines. 



Amplify your Gender, Sexuality, and Intersectional Justice degree with the skills, knowledge and ethical foundation needed to be a leader in the 21st century. In partnership with the Centennial Center for Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, our department offers the opportunity to engage in leadership development that culminates in a degree with leadership distinction and provides a competitive edge when applying to internships, jobs and graduate or professional school.

To graduate with leadership distinction, you will complete a series of foundational, action-oriented and reflective milestones within the Gender, Sexuality, and Intersectional Justice and Leadership curriculum. We encourage you to begin your leadership journey as early as your second semester on campus.