Search Continuing Education

WMST 2000 Introduction to Feminist Studies

Instructor Contact:

Diane Debella


Instructor Bio:

I have over twenty years of experience teaching writing and Women’s Studies at the college level, most recently at the University of Colorado; where I have received the CU Women Who Make a Difference Award and the CU-LEAD Alliance Faculty Appreciation Award. I also have a proven track record as a successful grant writer and administrator in the nonprofit sector. In addition to serving as grant administrator for Community Reach Center for over eight years, I have written grants on a contract basis for Behavioral Healthcare, Inc., Douglas/Elbert Task Force, and JVA Consulting. In addition to grant writing, I have extensive experience with other genres of professional writing; I have written white papers for Coleman Associates in Boulder, a needs assessment of the Denver Public School District (DPS) in Denver County, and an Instructor Manual to accompany A Sequence For Academic Writing, 5th edition, for Pearson Higher Education.

Course Description

What are feminist studies? Since the second wave feminist movement, women’s studies programs have become an important part of a liberal arts education. Today there are approximately 900 women and gender studies programs in the United States. These programs might offer concentrations, minors, majors, or even graduate degrees. More than 100,000 students are enrolled in women’s studies classes every year. As an academic discipline, research on gender issues is a rich, varied, and rapidly expanding field. Feminist research can be found in many of the major journals in a number of disciplines and in an increasing number of specialized journals. Yet, there still remain misunderstandings and misperceptions about what women and gender studies is all about. The stigma surrounding feminism in general has also colored understandings of academic feminism.

This course provides an overview of feminism in an academic and historical context. We will examine, evaluate, and challenge perceptions about what feminism and feminist studies entail. We will explore different and sometimes contradictory forms of feminist thought. We will learn about and employ various feminist research methods. We will address contemporary issues, analyzing them through a gendered lens. We will also look at the ways in which gender intersects with other identities such as class, race, ethnicity, and sexuality.

Learning about feminism and feminist studies does not require that you change what you think, but hopes to advance how you think. Within every academic discipline there are epistemological, theoretical, and methodological debates and perspectives. You will be expected to learn about these as they apply to women and gender studies. But, you will also be allowed—and indeed are expected—to question them. Being a scholar is about questioning everything, even widely accepted and long held understandings of the world. Socrates is thought to have said, “The more you learn, the more you realize how little you know.” Following this line of thinking, it is my hope that you leave this class with more questions about the world than when you entered.

Learning Objectives

This course has the following goals. Upon completion of the course, you should have:

  1. Gained an overview of women and gender studies as an academic discipline.
  2. Gained knowledge of the feminist movement, different forms of feminist thought, and various feminist methods.
  3. Gained the knowledge and ability to apply a feminist lens to various contemporary societal issues in order to recognize gender’s influence.
  4. Developed a faculty for critical reading, writing, and thinking in general. (See section on critical thinking at the end of the syllabus.)
  5. Reflected on your role as a community member and learned about ways to get involved in making change.

Required Texts

Shaw, Susan M. and Janet Lee. Women’s Voices Feminist Visions: Classic and Contemporary Readings. 6th Ed. New York: McGraw Hill, 2015.

Course Work and Grading

Voice Thread Responses:  You will complete Voice Thread assignments for each chapter assigned in Women’s Voices Feminist Visions.

Critical Reading Responses:  For additional specific readings assigned at the end of each chapter in our text, you will be required to post critical reading responses to the class discussion board. These responses will be evaluated based upon your critical reading, critical thinking, and critical writing skills. For each reading you will also need to post a reply to one other student’s response. I will provide you with additional details regarding critical reading responses. You should refer to both the Critical Analysis handout and the Critical Reading Response handout for more detailed instructions. You may skip five reading responses over the course of the semester without penalty.  Some of the readings may be personally triggering for you; if that is the case, you may skip those readings. As an alternative, you may complete all reading responses, and your lowest five grades will be dropped.

Formal Writing Assignments:

In this class you will need to complete three formal writing assignments (3-4 pages, typed double-spaced). Make sure that you read the instructions carefully, as your grade is based on the completion of all parts of the assignment.


There will be two exams in this class, a midterm and a final, each worth 15% of your grade. These exams could include multiple choice, matching, true/false and short answer questions. As the course is cumulative, the final may have questions relating to material covered in the first half of the semester, but most of the emphasis will be placed on material covered in the second half.

Class Participation:  Participation is an integral part of the learning experience.  Completing your own work on time and responding to other students’ work in a thorough, thoughtful, and timely manner will count toward your class participation grade.

Course Grade:

Voice Thread Responses 10%
Critical Reading Responses 10%
Formal Written Assignments 15% Each
Exams 15% Each
Class Participation 5%


Now that you’ve selected your favorite Continuing Education courses, email or print the information, including class number, to more easily search MyCUInfo and enroll. Still have questions? Contact an advisor.