The Columbian College of Arts and Sciences is designing six new courses for its LGBT and sexuality studies minor, as the two-year-old program tries to gain momentum and eventually build up a major.
Though only six Columbian College students have declared minors in LGBT and sexuality studies, the program’s leader Dan Moshenberg said faculty are seeing increasing interest and are hopeful to create a major by adding courses on an annual basis.
When the program launched in 2010, student sponsors hoped to see a major within two years.
The 18-credit minor encompasses about 16 courses that examine sexuality studies in departments like women’s studies, sociology and psychology. Majors typically require at least 40 credits in the field and require more faculty hires. He said he could not detail what the new courses would entail, because they are still in the planning stages.
Moshenberg said more students and faculty would need to buy into the minor before it takes the leap to a major, and hopes to put forward a formal plan for the program's future this spring. The minor is housed in the women’s studies departments.
He said the program also needed to entice more professors to build up courses for the potential major, but most focus primarily on their own department.
“You have a lot of people who are interested but can’t get released from their departmental chores,” he said.
Dan Ullman, Columbian College’s associate dean for undergraduate studies, said GW is holding back on an expansion, awaiting student demand for a major before making significant faculty hires or adding courses.
“It takes faculty to teach those courses, and if those courses are only going to have five to seven students in them, that’s a very expensive program for the college to run,” he said. “We have to see if there is a substantial demand.”
Senior Sally Kaplan, a political science major, said she signed up for the LGBT and sexuality studies minor because she was involved in nonprofit groups in D.C. that advocate for gay and transgender issues.
"Carving out a bigger space for queer studies is essential if GW wants to recruit or attract more progressively minded students," she said.
The minor launched with much fanfare in 2010, a signature piece of the student organization Allied in Pride’s push to expand LGBT-focused student life and academic offerings.
Former Allied in Pride president Michael Komo, now a first-year student at GW Law School, said he thought the minor would continue to grow.
“What we wanted to do two years ago was lay the groundwork for LGBT scholarship to be established at the University and continue to grow, which it definitely has,” said Komo, who rallied administrators to add the minor when he was a Student Association senator in 2010. He was the first student to declare the minor.