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Like everything at UW–Madison, the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies (GWS) has a long and storied history. It began in 1975 as the Women’s Studies Program amidst a nationwide wave of women’s studies in academia, but the UW’s program stood out among its newly formed peers thanks to the independence and resources it was allotted by the university. The program was also born during a time of intense activism and consciousness-raising on campus and across the University of Wisconsin System, which shaped the history and culture of both the university and the department. The program quickly exploded in success: a certificate in 1980, a PhD minor in 1984, and an undergraduate major in 1986. The 2000s saw more change, including an LGBTQ+ studies certificate in 2004, a master’s program in 2006, and a name change in 2008 — from the Women’s Studies Program to the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies. What started as a small program with a limited number of courses now offers more than 100 courses to its students, many of which are cross-listed with other departments, allowing students a look at how this subject area touches every corner of academia and the world. Read even more about the department’s history and impact.

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