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CWGS Signature Courses

Every undergraduate in their first year at UT Austin must take a Signature Course through the School of Undergraduate Studies. Signature Courses introduce students to critical thinking, information literacy, campus resources, and innovative faculty.
The CWGS Embrey Critical Human Rights Initiative (ECHRI) recruits and supports faculty to create new Signature Courses on gender and racial justice. CWGS ECHRI-supported Signature Courses uniquely develop students’ awareness of gender and racial justice issues and build their skills for civic engagement as changemakers. These courses also create space, by providing research funds, for faculty to develop and teach new courses; and CWGS MA students serve as TAs for these courses in order to build their skills as interdisciplinary teachers of gender and racial justice issues.

Students in CWGS-ECHRI-supported Signature Courses document increases in their:
 · awareness of and ability to talk about gender and racial justice;
 · commitment to speaking up for others’ rights by writing letters to organizations, businesses, and newspapers;
 · interest in and knowledge about political races and candidates;
 · involvement in gender and racial justice organizations and career paths; and
 · media literacy.

“I am really grateful that I was able to take what I learned from this class and show my sisters back at home and see the shock but also the excitement that they have when they tell their friends about what they’ve learned. I am so happy that I was able to learn and apply what I learned back at home and feel that sense of achievement.”
–Student in Gender, Media, and Human Rights, Fall 2011

“I always knew that I wanted to be a lawyer, but thinking about these things has made me interested in becoming a human rights attorney or advocate.”
– Student in
 Women for Sale? Spring 2012

“We cover really hard and difficult material, […] but at the end of the day, I know I am learning a lot and becoming more prepared to deal with these issues.”
– Student in Women for Sale? Spring 2012, reported in The Daily Texan, 12 April 2012

CWGS Embrey Critical Human Rights Initiative-Supported Signature Courses:

Becky Bigler, Psychology
Media, Gender Development, and Human Rights
Addresses social justice and activisim in four areas of gender-based human rights: political representation, transgender issues, single-sex schools, and same-sex marriage and parenting. Students will connent these areas with Austin action through a service-learning component, and will explore these issues in art and archives at UT. 

Pascale Bos, Germanic Studies
Sexual Violence in War
Surveys both a set of historical case studies and the scholarship and popular representations of cases of sexual violence in Yugoslavia and Rwanda. This overview allows us to both better understand how this violence is and is not situational, but historically unique, and how feminist explanations of this violence as either a continuation of "everyday sexual violence" or as separate from such violence and unique to war have helped or hindered in matters of understanding, prevention, legal prosecution, and aid to victims. We will consider sexual violence directed at both women and men.

Noël Busch-Armendariz and Laurie Cook Heffron, Social Work, and Bruce Kellison, Business
Women for Sale?
Explores trafficking in persons within the context of social justice, human rights, and femiinist perspectives. The course will engage students in discourse around historical and contemporary dialog, theoretical debtes, data and research findings, issues related to direct service delivery, and local, national, and global policy repsonses. Specific attention will be given to an analysis of traffickers and the impact of this crime on the global economy, the scope of the problem (nationally and internationally), medical-psycho-social needs of human trafficking victims, legal and criminal justice issues, vulnerabilities of victims, types of trafficking, typologies of traffickers, and community and policy responses are also included. Students may encounter human trafficking--or modern-day slavery--in a variety of settings. This course provides an overview of contemporary issues designed to empower students with the conceptual frameworks and knowledge base necessary for effective responses.

Héctor Domínguez Ruvalcaba, Spanish & Portuguese
Feminicides and Human Rights Activism in Mexico and Central America
This signature course introduces students to one of the most concerning issues of gender violence in Latin America: feminicides, or the systematic women killings in Mexico and Central America, and its implications in activism and public debates on gender justice. The class will discuss films, chronicles, essays, and testimonies, as well as documents related to Human Rights organizations, courts resolutions, and official statements.

Neville Hoad, English
Gender Identity, Sexual Orientation, Human Rights: Law, Literature, and Culture
Investigates the recent history of human rights discourse in relation to the terms sexual orientation and gender diversity in a variety of legal, social, medical, political and academic contexts. Interspersed with the readings, students will hear from a series of guest speakers from campus and community advocacy groups to illustrate the local valences of gender identity and sexual orientation. 

Juliet Hooker
Gender, Slavery, and Freedom (Fall 2015)
Will examine the way gender shaped the experience of new world slavery and how this has, in turn, affected the notions of freedom that have been developed in post-slave societies.

Tatiana Kuzmic, Slavic Studies, and Jennifer Beer, Psychology
Sex and the Russian City
Delves into the psychology of the characters of the Russian novel. Explores the social ills commonly associated with life in the city such as gender and class inequality, prostitution, addiction, and mental illness from literary as well as contemporary psychological perspectives. 

Sofian Merabet, Anthropology
Gender in the Contemporary Muslim World
This course examines the use of textual and visual material in debates about gender, sexuality, and morality and explores the interplay of cultural, social, political, and economic factors in shaping women's and men's lives in the Muslim world. Although special attention will be paid to the historical processes associated with colonialism and nation-building, we will also consider the local feminist movements, including Islamist, human rights, and LGBTQ based, that have developed to address issues of gender and sexuality.

Naomi Paik, American Studies
Gender, Migration, and Rights
Examines the relationship between gender, the movement of people across national borders, and rights discourses, with particular attention paid to human rights discourse. We will consider how gender impacts the reasons why people migrate, how they migrate, how their rights (as refugees, as migrants, as workers, as citizens, as humans) are recognized, and how they can find redress for rights violations.

Tasha Philpot, Government
African-American Women and the Struggle for Political Incorporation
Explores how racial, gender, and class dynamics in the United States have shaped Black women’s participation in the American Political System.  We will critically examine what impact Black women’s position as a marginalized group has had on their ability to benefit from citizenship and equal protection under the law and how this has affected their political behavior.  Topics will include Black women’s engagement in protest politics, social movements, electoral politics, judicial politics, and nontraditional forms of political activism.  Further, this course will discuss how representations of Black women’s aesthetics, sexuality, and reproductive behavior have been used to shape historical and contemporary policy debates.

Sharmila Rudrappa, Sociology
War and Asian Americans
Examines how 20th-century US wars, through their impact on Asian immigration into the United States, immigration policies, and racial profiling affect Asian-American families.

Shannon Speed and Christen Smith, Anthropology
Women of Color and the State: Incarceration and Detention in the Americas (Fall 2015)

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    Burdine Hall 536
    2505 University Avenue, A4900
    Austin, Texas 78712