In 1970, seventeen courses in Women's Studies were taught in American colleges and universities. Ten years later, there were at least 350 programs and 20,000 courses (Stimpson & Cobb, 1986). By 1986, 503 programs were recorded by the National Women's Studies Association (Academe, July-August, 1989). Increasing numbers of universities are making tenure-track appointments in Women's Studies; in 1988-89 alone, more than two dozen universities advertised tenure-track appointments in Women's Studies (Beck, 1989).
Along with this institutional development, Women's Studies has generated an extensive body of scholarship in the social sciences (particularly psychology, sociology, history and anthropology; to a lesser extent, political science and economics) and the humanities (particularly literature and languages; more recently, art history, film studies, religion and philosophy). Several major university presses have series dealing exclusively with Women's Studies (for example, Indiana University Press, Columbia University Press, University of Chicago Press, Cornell University Press, etc.), and there are now many interdisciplinary Women's Studies Journals (e.g., Signs: A Journal of Women in Culture and Society; Feminist Studies; Feminist Issues; Women's Studies International Quarterly; Differences--A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies).
This volume of research and publication in Women's Studies has been supported by foundations and federal agencies. In the past few years, at least two major sources of funding of dissertation research have been specifically designated for Women's Studies (Woodrow Wilson Women's Research Grants; American Association of University Women). The National Science Foundation, Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Russell Sage Foundation, National Institute of Education, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Institute of Mental Health, and other agencies have given both support and visibility to research on women's studies.
The intellectual effects of this explosion in scholarly activity have not been restricted to course offerings in Women's Studies. Some courses in other departments have become more gender-balanced in their coverage; and scholars in the traditional disciplines have been influenced by feminist scholarshp. However, Women's Studies Programs do seem to be critical to the support of these developments. A 1988 report, Including Women in the Curriculum, commissioned by the Ford Foundation, credits the presence of Women's Studies Programs as a critical resource for achieving curricular change.
"At schools which did not have an organized Women's Studies Program...reform efforts did not seem to move past the level of motivated individuals 'doing their thing.' Institutionalization and campus recognition of Women's Studies is critical because Women's Studies programs provide leadership, become depositories for the vast amount of research that has been produced in the past twenty years, and offer faculty who want to develop their knowledge a place to gather energy, experience and expertise" (FERA, 17-18). Women's Studies at the University of Michigan.
In 1972 a grassroots movement to establish Women's Studies at the University received funding from the Women's Advocate and the Advocate for Educational Innovation to call together an ad hoc Women's Studies Committee. About 30 students, faculty, staff and community women became part of the initial organizing effort. This Committee created the first version of the basic introductory course. By spring 1973,the Committee's proposal for a Women's Studies Program had been approved by the Executive Committee of the College of Literature, Science and the Arts (LS&A). In the fall of 1973, the new Program began offering five courses and building a library, with a 1/4 time Director and a 1/2 time secretary. In 1974, a graduate student journal was established (now Michigan Feminist Studies).
An undergraduate major was approved in 1975, and in 1976 the Program received a curriculum development grant from NEH that was used to design four course guides. The first half-time Director, historian Louise Tilly, was appointed in 1975. From then until 1979, when the third half-time Director resigned midterm, Directors served for two year terms. However, much of the governance of the Program was carried out by faculty, graduate students and staff collectively.The initial course offerings remained stable until 1980, when the first college review of the Program recommended greater faculty involvement in teaching the upper-level courses, and recommended creation of two half-time faculty positions in Women's Studies: one jointly with a humanities department, one jointly with a social science department. From 1980-1982 Program members worked hard to revise the undergraduate curriculum and recruit departments (and Schools and Colleges) who could be loaned to the Program for teaching specific courses. During this period four faculty (Louise Tilly, Elizabeth Douvan, Sherry Ortner and Arlene Saxonhouse) came forward and created a rotating directorate (with directors serving for one academic term) to solve the leadership crisis created by the Director's resignation. Subsequently this practice became institutionalized until the fall of 1990.
In 1984, the Program initiated the Graduate Certificate Program, adding three graduate courses to the curriculum. In 1985, an ad hoc group (called the Collectivity Committee) began meeting to consider the Program's governance structure and ideals, in light of its increased size, complexity and diversity. A new governance model, designed to broaden participation in governance, was implemented in 1986-87. Continued growth of the Program, along with the Internal and External Reviews conducted in 1988-90, resulted in a reorganization of the Program's internal governance (with a Director appointed for three years, and an elected Executive Committee) as well as an increase in resources committed from both LS&A and Rackham. In 1994, the Program added a Ph.D in English or Psychology and Women's Studies to its graduate program. The interdepartmental doctoral programs in Women's Studies and Psychology, and Women's Studies and English, are designed to serve the needs of students whose interests are not well represented by an exclusively disciplinary program. The interdepartmental doctoral program will provide the opportunity to work out an interdisciplinary approach to a research problem from an early point in their training, with a faculty committee that can provide mentorship. Current Status of the Women's Studies Program.
The Program's current tenure-track faculty resources include four joint appointments who are Full Professors (Larimore at the Residential College, 50%; Stanton in Romance Languages, 50%; Stewart in Psychology, 50%; Vicinus in English, 25%); four who are Associate Professors (Herrmann in English, 25%; Press in Communications, 25%; Simons in History of Art, 50%; Yaeger in English, 25%); and three who are Assistant Professors (Hart in Sociology, 50%; Hunter in Psychology, 25%; Johnson in History, 50%). In addition, we have one three-year Lecturer (Haniff in CAAS, 50%).
In addition to these 12 budgeted appointments, 24 tenure-track faculty
(20 in LS&A, 1 in Law, 1 in Nursing, 2 in Social Work) have non-budgeted
appointments in Women's Studies. Another dozen or so tenure-track faculty
frequently teach courses crosslisted in Women's Studies, and several more
serve on committees for the Program. Finally, several non-tenure-track
lecturers make frequent contributions to the Program. The Program offers
more than 35 courses each semester, with enrollments through Women's Studies
(excluding enrollments through crosslisting departments) of more than 1300
students per year. We have about 50 concentrators per graduating class,
and 48 current graduate certificate students, drawn mostly from doctoral
programs in 19 departments, schools and colleges. Eighteen faculty, also
drawn widely from those departments, schools and colleges, serve as faculty
advisors to the certificate students.