Seminar and Practicum in Engaged Research

The Seminar and Practicum aim to enable students to consider how concepts in feminist research methods are integral to practice and how practice informs and alters concepts.  Students take the Seminar and Practicum simultaneously in the spring of the junior or senior year.  The courses bring together theory and practice, allowing students to enhance their academic knowledge through research on issues of gender and/or sexuality in collaboration with a local non-profit organization.  Seminar and Practicum projects are eligible for Distinction.

Students begin conversations about their Practica in the spring of the sophomore or junior year in consultation with the SWGS staff and faculty. The fall of their junior or senior year, they take the PreSeminar, a 1-credit course that prepares them to submit an Institutional Review Board application.

The Practicum is a 3-credit course taken for a grade, and requires 6 hours of work a week at a local organization during the semester, a weekly journal entry (with a particular focus on the relationship between the Seminar readings and the on-site experience), and a formal public presentation about the research project towards the end of the semester.  Practicum placements are made through a sound match of an organization’s needs with the student's interests and skills. One distinguishing feature of the Center’s “engaged research” approach is that, while based in a student's interests, the research project arises from this deliberate and informed encounter between the student and the needs of the organization and the clients it serves.

The weekly Seminar is also taken for a letter grade. It explores a range of perspectives on feminist theory and practice, grassroots organizing, and policy-making around issues of women, gender, and sexuality.  Some readings will focus specifically on the areas in which the students will be conducting their Practica that semester; such readings might cover domestic violence, reproductive freedom, or human trafficking, for example.  The Seminar seeks to situate the students' Practica experiences in a broader theoretical, historical, and transnational context.  Course requirements will include critical essays related to assigned texts and a final paper in which students analyze the Practicum in light of the seminar readings.

The Seminar and Practicum are also open to non-majors. Permission of the instructor is required, as is some background in the study of women, gender or sexuality.