With nearly four decades of history at the Colleges, the Women’s Studies Department is taking the next step to keep the HWS community, alums and prospective students better informed about its program through the publication of a biyearly newsletter and an open forum on a Facebook page.
“The newsletter grew out of conversations with majors last year who really want the program to have a more visible presence. So, both the newsletter and Facebook help to make us more visible,” explains Professor and Chair of Women’s Studies Betty Bayer. “However, the newsletter is also a way for our program to network with other programs – by entering into the larger exchange of WMST newsletters across the U.S. and elsewhere. That kind of interchange helps to build an appreciation of the strengths of our program, of our faculty and students. Facebook is more experimental right now in some ways. We are seeking ways to use it as a networking space, a place to connect with others who may have worked on particular issues of interest to those in Women’s Studies, and a great way to stay in touch while here and after graduation.”
In the first newsletter in August, Bayer explains, “This newsletter is one step toward building that broader interchange on Women’s Studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. We invite you – faculty, staff, students, alumnae and alumni – to add your voices to Women’s Studies by letting us know what you are doing, writing, creating, reading, thinking, and challenging; what issues you think Women’s Studies needs to address and how Women’s Studies keeps time with issues today, locally and globally.”
Offering faculty features, a summation of department happenings and student activities related to Women’s Studies, the newsletter offers a way for alums to keep up with the department and give back, whether through their own voices reflecting on women’s issues or through financial support that can help to further the Women’s Studies mission.
While the newsletter may tout an official print version, the Facebook page offers more immediate dialogue by providing a place for Women’s Studies advocates – whether alums, students, faculty or friends – to discuss, network and share their thoughts and pictures.
“The hope is that alumnae and alumni will feel a continuing connection to the program, and to let us know what they are doing or what they might like to see happening in Women’s Studies through Facebook,” explains Bayer. “In similar ways, it offers current students the chance to connect as majors and minors with one another while also meeting those who graduated.”
Already, several alums – including Amy L. Robinson ’88, the second ever Women’s Studies major at the Colleges – have taken advantage of this chance to connect with one another, staff and current students in an effort to further the Women’s Studies mission. Robinson resides in Houston, Texas and is a national Executive Leadership Coach, offering women’s leadership programs.
“Increasing the program’s visibility – its strong program, students and faculty – and bringing the program into a wider exchange on Women’s Studies all serve to inform students, faculty and our institutions more broadly on the significance and relevance of Women’s Studies and feminist scholarship and teaching,” says Bayer.
The newsletter can be found on the Women’s Studies Department page at http://www.hws.edu/academics/ws/, under the subheading Women’s Studies Newsletter. The Facebook page can be found at http://www.facebook.com/#!/hwswmst.
Women’s Studies, which aims to critically question foundational tenets of knowledge, offers an interdisciplinary major, a B.A., and a minor. For more information Women’s Studies, visit their department page, http://www.hws.edu/academics/ws/.
The photo above features members of the 2011 senior women’s studies seminar and AAUW Rochester chapter members meeting U.S. Ambassador Melanne Verveer. Verveer was a President’s Forum Speaker in April 2011.