PGSS Starts Spring 2005

The Interdisciplinary Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies provides a model curriculum for students who wish to create an interdisciplinary major that focuses on issues of gender and sexuality. Human experience is inextricably linked with sex and gender. We enter the world with the biologically defined sex of our bodies and then over the course of our lives become gendered social actors. In doing so, we encounter and engage the wide array of socio-cultural ideas, values and practices that define gender, with its associated ideas regarding masculinity, femininity, and other gender identities. In recent decades scholarly research in multiple disciplines has explored the profound ways in gender and sexuality are constructed and defined in social life and also influence and inform social action. This research has demonstrated not only the centrality of sex, gender, and sexuality in social life, but also their critical linkages to such basic everyday issues as access to education, language use, and political participation, or such large scale theoretical issues as inequality, class, power, and nature versus nurture debates.

The Interdisciplinary Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies has developed out of a long-standing and growing interest among the ICU faculty and student body for an integrated, college-wide program from which interested students could construct a major. It therefore seeks to provide a structured set of courses that students can choose from to create their own study programs in Gender and Sexuality Studies. Modeled upon other interdisciplinary programs in the College of Liberal Arts, such as the Asian Studies Program, the Japan Studies Program and the American Studies Program, the Interdisciplinary Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies provides students with a set of Foundation courses through which they can be exposed to core concepts in gender and sexuality studies in different disciplines, and then provides a wide-array of Area Major and elective courses from different divisions that they can take to pursue their own individual interests while still receiving credit toward their major. The curriculum itself is composed of courses that were voluntarily contributed by faculty members across the divisions who felt that their courses provided interesting and important insights on gender and/or sexuality. As the curriculum continues to evolve, interested faculty members are welcome to add their courses in order to further enrich and improve the curriculum.

The curriculum for the Interdisciplinary Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies has several innovative virtues. To begin with, it represents the first attempt to construct an interdisciplinary major that involves all of ICU's divisions. This has been one of the most challenging components of constructing the curriculum, but provides us with a rare opportunity to demonstrate to our students the integrated aspects of a liberal arts education. Second, although the curriculum employs the standard method of asking students to familiarize themselves with approaches from different disciplines, it also encourages students to take a variety of courses that will provide them with different analytical approaches and skills. In line with ICU's liberal arts emphasis, the program's goal is therefore not to teach students any particular orthodoxy, but to empower them with the analytical skills needed to critically engage any materials and draw their own conclusions. Finally , the Interdisciplinary Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies is a pioneering program among Japanese universities and will provide ICU with the opportunity to be a national leader in this important and growing field. Through its establishment, ICU can simultaneously succeed in provided a needed program for our students while also securing our place as educational leaders in Japan.

(CGS Steering Committee / ICU Division of Languages : Hibiya, Junko)