The University Record, September 8, 1992

Women’s Studies Program receives Presidential Initiatives Grant

From the Women’s Studies Program

“Differences among Women: A Multicultural Research and Teaching Agenda for the Women’s Studies Program” has been awarded a $50,000 Presidential Initiatives Fund grant by President James J. Duderstadt. The grant will be matched by the Office of the Vice President for Research.

In announcing the grant, Duderstadt said: “The program you have outlined is an ambitious undertaking and will contribute significantly to the intellectual life of our community.

“The effort to engage graduate students and faculty from different disciplines around complex and challenging themes is the kind of broad scholarly work that is often neglected as a result of departmental constraints,” the president noted.

“While drawing on the existing research and teaching capabilities of our faculty, the program will stretch their talents and establish a framework for integrating feminist scholarship into the mainstream of our academic programs.”

The program is intended to “define and shape the focus of the Women’s Studies Program’s scholarly activities over the next several years,” says Anne C. Herrmann, associate professor of English and of women’s studies.

“Faculty and graduate and undergraduate students will work together—in courses, on research and in informal settings—to explore a particular theme that highlights one of several ways in which women experience and represent their differences from one another,” she explains.

Potential themes include:

—Women’s health and reproductive issues in an international context.

—Ways in which differences (in sexuality, class, ethnicity, race, nationality, religion, health) among women are culturally defined and represented.

—Different economic and political situations of women within the United States and around the world.

—The impact of science and technology on women in different cultural and national contexts.

—Women’s racial, ethnic and national identities as they intersect with other differences.

—Women and conflict, war and peace.

—Traditions of women’s grass-roots activism in different cultures and situations.

Each year’s theme will be determined by a student-faculty planning committee, with help from external consultants.

External scholars, faculty, and graduate and undergraduate students with interests in and expertise relevant to the theme will be invited to apply for residency in the Women’s Studies Program for the following year.

“This nucleus of scholars,” Herrmann explains, “will serve to focus the scholarly activities of the program for the year, including one graduate and one undergraduate course, as well as colloquia, roundtables, and collaborative and individual research projects.”

Benefits of the integrated research and teaching agenda include:

—Support of the intellectual community of women scholars at the U-M.

—Focused attention on issues facing many different groups and kinds of women.

—A strengthening of the curriculum within the Women’s Studies Program, supporting its continuing efforts to address multicultural issues.

—Creation of a “lively intellectual center” for research and teaching on women and gender that builds on the 20-year success of the Women’s Studies Program.

During this first year of the program, several individuals will work on a theme focusing on some aspect of “differences among women.” In addition, funding support for international or other visiting scholars will be sought, as will funding for future themes.

During winter term 1993, two new faculty members with joint appointments in women’s studies—Susan Johnson (history) and Andrea Hunter (psychology) will offer “Differences among Women.”