Women & Gender Studies Institute


Undergraduate Program in Women and Gender Studies (UWGS)

For the past 40 years, we have trained students to think deeply about how gender and sexuality operate at the individual, interpersonal, institutional and global levels. Drawing from a range of disciplines such as history and literature, sociology and law, we enable students to answer urgent and complex questions, such as how militarization can constrict men’s aspirations for their lives, why there are income disparities between women and men, how sexual expression is scripted and can be re-scripted, and even what Lady Gaga could have in common with Shakespeare. In addition to training students to traverse the stanzas of a poem and a government report with equal care and skill in their quests, we also focus attention on matters of scale: when to aggregate and when to parse significant distinctions, how to think comparatively across space and time.

The Women & Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto is distinctive for its transnational approach, critically addressing how national borders and nationalist discourses frame the constructions of gender and sexuality. We study the effects of migration, diaspora and wars on experiences of home and heritage, family, desire and selfhood.

We provide students the conceptual tools to connect processes of imperialism and globalization with emergent economies and forms
of labor and consumption. Finally, we encourage students to reflect on the varied histories of feminism when framing their own activism in the present.

Our graduates go on to do innovative work in the public service, creative, and corporate sectors, becoming everything from documentary film-makers to grassroots activists to policy analysts in economic development agencies. All of them draw on the critical lens they develop in this program, becoming part of a rich community of graduates who maintain their connections with one another, and who come back to the classroom where they once were students to share their experiences.