With much happening around the globe in regards to feminism and the politics of gender, the campus community has much to discuss at the 9th annual Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies (WGST) Student Conference. This year’s event will take place Friday March 24, 2017 from 9:30 a.m to 5 p.m.
Conference Co-Coordinator and WGST Research Assistant, Senior Sophia Broderick, said that she finds the conference to be an important opportunity for students to share their research and areas of expertise with members of the community.
“Students submit papers or presentations and they have the opportunity to gain public speaking experience as well as learn more about other parts of the feminist discourse,” Broderick stated. “This year, we have a range of subjects from feminism in film, public policy, history, black feminism, activism and much more!”
Although the event happens annually, recent conversations and social movements – such as the Women’s March, A Day Without Women and the Presidential Election – have increased interest for the event.
“We received twice as many proposals this year compared to last year and we are expecting a great turn out,” Broderick explained. “We have had an increase in volunteer interest as well. I can only imagine that this is a result of the last election and the dialogue surrounding women’s rights/civil rights/LGBTQ rights under this new administration.”
Chair of the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies department, Jennifer Nelson, began the event in 2009. The Women and Gender Studies department, which recently changed its name to Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, wanted a space where students from across campus could present their work despite having diverse majors. Nelson had hosted a similar conference at a previous institution and decided to plan a conference that worked for the University of Redlands’ students.
Initially the event was sponsored and operated by faculty within the department, but recently it has transitioned into being student-run. Broderick’s Co-Coordinator for the event is Junior Chelsea Fomin.
Broderick commended the multidisciplinary approach to the conference.
“The WGS conference is one of the only academic forums on campus that features student work from many different disciplines and perspectives, including literature, history, anthropology, and psychology,” Broderick said.
Broderick hopes that the conversations that begin at the event continue outside the walls of Orton in order to have an impact on campus.
“In this political climate, I believe this conference is needed now more than ever. I am excited for the participants to share their hard work with the U of R and Redlands community. I think it’s an important event for people who agree with each other and people who might not. There can be a lot of tension when it comes to political things. My hope is that this conference can provide a space for great discussion.”
photo from the University of Redlands website.