Friday, March 23, 2012

Experts in women's & gender studies to discuss future of field April 3 at Whitworth

Linda Beail, Beth Martin Birky and Kristina LaCelle Peterson to participate in public panel discussion

WHAT: A public panel discussion, "The Future of Women's and Gender Studies at Christian Universities," with Linda Beail, from Point Loma Nazarene University, Beth Martin Birky, from Goshen College, and Kristina LaCelle Peterson, from Houghton College, moderated by Whitworth political science professor Julia Stronks.

WHEN: Tuesday, April 3, at 3:15 p.m.

WHERE: Robinson Teaching Theatre in Weyerhaeuser Hall at Whitworth University.

COST: Free admission. For more information, please call (509) 777-4937.

Whitworth currently offers a minor in women's & gender studies. The program seeks to prepare students to use an interdisciplinary framework to engage with a pluralistic culture; to identify and investigate the intersections of gender, race, class and religion with gender experiences; to seek an increased understanding of gender issues from various Christian perspectives; and to explore, develop, articulate and critique feminist views.

In keeping with the goals and values outlined in Whitworth's 2021 strategic plan, the university is assessing its women's & gender studies program to identify strengths and areas of growth and opportunity. To aid in that process, Whitworth is bringing to campus April 3-4 three national experts who specialize in the combination of religion and women's & gender studies. Those experts include Linda Beail, department chair of political science and director of the Women's Studies Program at Point Loma Nazarene University, in San Diego; Beth Martin Birky, department chair of English and director of the Women's Studies Program at Goshen College, in Goshen, Ind.; and Kristina LaCelle-Peterson, department chair of theology and associate professor of religion at Houghton College, in Houghton, N.Y.

During their visit to campus and consultation with students and university leaders, Beail, Birky and LaCelle-Peterson will participate in a public panel discussion, "The Future of Women's and Gender Studies at Christian Universities," moderated by Whitworth political science professor and Edward B. Lindman Chair Julia Stronks, on Tuesday, April 3, at 3:15 p.m. in the Robinson Teaching Theatre in Weyerhaeuser Hall.

"Christians have a responsibility to be engaged in the world, and the WGS program provides a wonderful opportunity to consider different perspectives on matters that impact all people," Stronks says. "Male and female students express a growing interest in the way that our assumptions about gender influence law, families, businesses, churches and governments. It's a pleasure to be involved in a consultation that we all hope will strengthen our program."

Goal three of Whitworth's strategic plan calls for preparing students to be global citizens, and goal four of the plan calls for the university to demonstrate its leadership in an increasingly diverse world by focusing on issues of intercultural competency and equity related to gender, race and ethnicity. In addition, the plan's fifth goal, which calls for elevating a liberal arts education as essential and relevant to all careers and majors, includes as one of its objectives supporting interdisciplinary scholarships and programs, such as the women's & gender studies program, that equip students and faculty to connect ideas across multiple disciplines, to expand boundaries of knowledge, and to address complex contemporary problems.

"This consultation represents a substantive step toward strengthening Whitworth's women's and gender studies program as a significant contributor to the university's mission of educating the mind and heart," says Larry Burnley, assistant vice president for diversity and intercultural relations at Whitworth. "Helping students to think critically and theologically about the complex issues related to gender, and its intersection with other dimensions of diversity, is an essential component to a liberal arts education committed to excellence. This consultation will play a key role in framing our conversation about gender and about the women's and gender studies program as we move forward in equipping our diverse student body to honor God, follow Christ, and serve humanity."

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of nearly 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Contacts:

Larry Burnley, assistant vice president for diversity and intercultural relations, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4215 or lburnley@whitworth.edu.

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or eproffitt@whitworth.edu.