January Term

Featured Online Course

Women's Studies 510

December 29 - January 17 100% online course

CRN: 30086, Credits 4.0

Instructor Bio: Joelle Ryan, Ph.D

This course examines the history of feminist struggle in the U.S. by critically viewing and analyzing diverse films from the 1970s to the present. Students learn about the three waves of feminism and the various sociocultural, economic, sexual and political issues faced by women in the long and ongoing quest to achieve gender equality. Students explore methods of historical inquiry and film criticism to enable complex analyses of historical developments and contemporary arrangements of power. Attention is paid to how multiple identities and forms of oppression intersect in women's diverse lived experiences. Historical Perspectives (Disc), Historical Perspectives GP 4.

Questions for Joelle Ryan, Ph.D.:

How does teaching this course online change your approach?

I appreciate online courses for their accessibility, versatility and flexibility. In addition, online classes connect us all to the global village, encourage self-discipline and facilitate complex communication and technical skills. In Women’s Studies face-to-face courses, we often stress collaborative learning, in-depth discussions, intensive writing, research and textual analysis, and an ongoing interrogation of power, privilege and oppression within our society. I believe these same components can be adapted for effective learning in an online environment. Through discussion board posting, blogging, frequent writing assignments and the creation of a shared, cyber learning community, we can recreate positive, traditional classroom dynamics and also diverge from them in creative, technologically-savvy and innovative ways.

Why should students be interested in this subject matter?

Often I query my students about what they learned in their high school history classes about women. Sadly, even in 2013 they still often respond that they learned little to nothing and that the accomplishments of girls and women were rendered invisible in these classes. In this course, we will utilize film as a window on to the long and ongoing quest for full gender equality in the U.S. and beyond. This class can serve as an important supplement to present a more inclusive history, and can also introduce Film Studies as a productive mode of analysis and a vibrant method of historical analysis. Through an examination of diverse films, we can chart the powerful history of feminist struggle, and gain an understanding of how ordinary people stood up to become agents of change and thereby transformed the world.

Do you have a philosophy about learning?

My philosophy of learning is that every student is valuable, that all students have highly individualized and unique learning styles, and that all students can and should make a substantive contribution to our shared learning community. In opposition to the hierarchical “sage on a stage,” I see myself as a facilitator of knowledge and as an equal partner in a teaching and learning collective. I also see my role as not teaching students what to think, but how to think. The learning and execution of critical thinking skills are vital in my courses in order to develop a critical toolbox that enables students to make sense of the world around them. In addition, it will empower students to stake out their own positions on issues that are important to them, analyze and proffer solutions to complex social problems, and encourage them to become active, engaged and conscientious citizens within a modern global community.