18 July 2023 Exploring Sexuality, Gender from Different Lenses By Colin Spencer '19

Hobart and William Smith’s pioneering gender and sexuality programs enter a new chapter and expand conversations across campus.  

Home to some of the nation’s oldest academic programs in gender and sexuality studies, Hobart and William Smith Colleges will launch a new academic department, Gender, Sexuality, and Intersectional Justice, to encourage interdisciplinary exploration at the intersections of race, sexuality, ableism and justice.  

The department will serve as a hub for three concentration programs: LGBTQ+ Studies; Gender and Feminist Studies; and the new Bodies, Disability, and Justice program. In the fall, Gender and Feminist Studies and LGBTQ+ Studies will be available as majors while all three programs will be available as minors. The new department will also contribute to the campus conversation outside of the students who major in these programs through collaborations with the Fisher Center for the Study of Gender and Justice, the LGBTQ+ Resource Center, and others. 

“The new department provides a lens which allows for greater avenues of interdisciplinary and intersectional study across campus that is exciting,” says Associate Professor and chair of Gender, Sexuality, and Intersectional Justice Michelle Martin-Baron. “To update our curriculum, we are really focusing on how racial justice is an essential part of both feminist and queer studies as well as disability studies. We’re also excited to move outside of a gender binary framework, which is long overdue.” 

Bodies, Disability, and Justice focuses on the complexities of the human body, drawing on courses cross-listed with other departments, such as dance, theatre, educational studies and writing and rhetoric. The scope of the program’s coursework spans embodiment studies, disability studies, integrated mind and body studies and critical health and wellness studies 

The Gender, Sexuality, and Intersectional Justice programs begin with a new introductory course exploring gender, feminism, feminist activism and intersectionality. This fall, a specialized section cross-listed with Environmental Studies will examine these topics through an environmental lens and link topics in the course to environmental topics including climate change and sustainability.  

A new elective course on disability and sexuality will explore how both are constructed and co-constructed along with the histories of activism for both topics.  

During the major capstone in each program, students apply feminist, queer, and crip theories and research methods and integrate their experiences in the program as the product a final project.  

Together, the Colleges’ programs in Gender, Sexuality, and Intersectional Justice offer a unique and invaluable opportunity for exploring questions of gender and difference, preparing students to lead lives of consequence as they pursue careers in public health, advocacy, politics, education and business, among other areas. 

Founded in 1969, Hobart and William Smith’s program in Women’s Studies is one of the oldest and most respected in the nation. In 2002, the Colleges became the first college or university in the U.S. to offer an undergraduate major in LGBT/Queer Studies.  

For more information, contact Michelle Martin-Baron or Jessica-Hayes Conroy. 

Top: Associate Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Intersectional Justice Michelle Martin-Baron talks with students during a class in April.