March 2, 2021
College of Arts and Science announces merger of American ethnic studies and gender, women, and sexuality studies
The College of Arts and Sciences’ American ethnic studies and gender, women, and sexuality studies departments will merge and develop a joint degree program.
The announced merger comes at the directive of the Kansas Board of Regents following a review of programs across the Regents system. In his presentation to KBOR, Provost Charles Taber emphasized the importance of these programs and the valuable contributions they make to the mission of the university, especially in research and teaching on equity and justice issues. Taber also indicated that the potential for merging the programs was being explored and that the departments had already entered discussions about a merger. The Regents voted that the programs should be merged as soon as possible.
The College of Arts and Sciences and the departments of American ethnic studies and gender, women, and sexuality studies are committed to following shared governance to jointly decide on the details for a new program that will achieve the Kansas Board of Regent’s directive. Two ad hoc committees have convened, one on unit structure and one on program curriculum, made up of members of the two departments. These committees will explore options and develop recommendations for the operations and curriculum of the new unit, and the College of Arts and Sciences will then follow college, university and Faculty Senate shared governance policies to make the proposed changes.
In practical terms, this means the following:
- A new unit will be created, the name of which has yet to be determined.
- A new, single major will be created that will utilize existing courses from the two departments.
- The new major will contain tracks that allow students to gain in-depth training in one or both of the two fields.
- Students who are currently majoring in either program will be able to complete their degrees in those programs.
- Courses from the two programs that are used in other degree programs or are common choices for electives will not be changed.
Even as a new unit and a new major are created, efforts will be made to retain the identities of American ethnic studies and gender, women, and sexuality studies, which are interdisciplinary academic fields that have existed for more than 50 years and are the result of the pioneering work of scholars and activists. The new major will build on the strengths of the two fields and the many areas of overlap and intersection between them, but it will also ensure that their respective histories and emphases are not erased.
The college and the departments are working to make this change as soon as possible while ensuring the development of strong, new program, minimizing disruptions and making the transition is as smooth as possible for students. Further details will be announced as they become available.