The Program in Women's Studies at Duke University is dedicated to exploring gender identities, relations, practices, theories and institutions. In the field's first decades, feminist scholarship reoriented traditional disciplines toward the study of women and gender and developed new methodologies and critical vocabularies that have made interdisciplinarity a key feature of Women's Studies as an autonomous field. Today, scholars continue to explore the meaning and impact of identity as a primary though by no means transhistorical or universal way of organizing social life by pursuing an intersectional analysis of gender, race, sexuality, class, and nationality. In the classroom, as in our research, our goal is to transform the university's organization of knowledge by reaching across the epistemological and methodological divisions of historical, political, philosophical, economic, representational, technological and scientific analysis. In our Program's dual emphasis on interdisciplinarity and intersectionality, we offer students new knowledge while equipping them with a wide range of analytical and methodological skills.
Many students identify women's studies courses as among the most exciting and enlightening they take at Duke. The women and men who enroll in our classes each semester gain the opportunity to understand how social, historical, and psychological forces, organized by the central concept of gender, shape them as individuals; attain a fuller understanding of human behavior, culture, and society made possible by investigating women's lives; acquaint themselves with the experience of women of different economic classes, sexual orientations, and cultural and racial backgrounds; and transfer the critical and analytical skills they acquire in the study of gender and society to other classes, beyond the campus to other activities, and eventually to their professional careers.
Women's Studies has, since its inception, been an interdisciplinary field. It has consistently assessed the strengths and challenges of such interdisciplinarity. Duke students find their background in Women's Studies to be a valuable resource for their professional development and lifelong intellectual growth. In recent years, Women's Studies graduates have found themselves well prepared to pursue advanced degrees in every discipline; training in the legal and medical professions; employment in community service agencies; leadership roles in local, state, and national government; artistic expression in the creative arts; and positions in the corporate world.