As a gender, sexuality, and women's studies major at Cornell, you'll engage in activism, research, and in-depth discussion. You will be asked to explore the intersections of gender, race, ethnicity, culture, class, sexuality, and nationality. You will also study forms of oppression, including sexism, heterosexism, racism, classism, ageism, ableism, and colonialism, as well as forms of bias that contribute to limited or distorted views of women's lives.

You will develop critical thinking skills while working with faculty who represent a wide range of specialties and interests ranging from sociology and anthropology to art and art history. More importantly, you will do all of this in a supportive learning environment where you can explore the breadth of the social, political, and cultural experiences of humanity and discover how you want to make your impact.

Interdisciplinary approach to your major or minor

Our interdisciplinary program emphasizes:

  • Intersectionality, which highlights the diversity of human experience and the intersections of gender, race, ethnicity, culture, class, sexuality, nationality, religion, and other social categories. 
  • Synthesization of theory and and practical applications stemming across multiple disciplines.
  • Social justice and feminist perspectives, which facilitate the investigation of power dynamics, oppression, and social change practices across historical and cultural contexts; and the integration of academic approaches, activism, and service. 

Activism and outreach

A vital part of our program is an emphasis on activism and community engagement. The Cornell community offers many opportunities for social action and involvement in the surrounding community, including internships at places like local domestic violence shelters, anti-violence male coalitions, and organic local farms.

Feminist Symposium

To promote research related to our program, we along with Third Wave Resource Group co-host a biannual Feminist Symposium. This symposium allows students and professors to present research, projects, and artwork that pertain specifically to feminist and women's issues. The keynote speaker for the 2016 symposium was Taté Walker, a human rights and social justice activist, editor of Native Peoples Magazine, author of the blog "Righting Red," and a Lakota storyteller.

Experiential learning One Course At A Time

Learning on Cornell's One Course At A Time curriculum means that when you take on an internship or research project, you will apply your knowledge. You may be working at a women’s shelter, a hospital, or anywhere there is a need for women’s advocacy, and you will be on site every day building relationships that will last long after your time at Cornell.

The One Course schedule offers the freedom of long class periods and removes other academic priorities. Students and faculty take the time to dive in and discuss, challenge, and rethink real-world issues, as well as personal and political aspects of gender, sexuality, and other related identities. 

Senior capstone

Majors spend their capstone course engaged in full-time research for an entire block, without interruption from other courses. You will select your own research topic. Topics of previous capstones have included:

  • feminism and dance
  • sexual assault and violence against women
  • menstruation suppression
  • history of women's movements
  • gendered division of labor and space in South Africa

Off-campus studies

Cornell faculty regularly teach gender studies related courses in India and Japan, where students have the opportunity to see how gender roles manifest in cultures across the globe. When you can speak with people living in India and Japan, you can begin to see how culture shapes gender.