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Author Topic: An overview of Feminism and it's terrible representation  (Read 6468 times)

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Offline Valthazar

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Re: An overview of Feminism and it's terrible representation
« Reply #175 on: December 14, 2014, 09:39:56 AM »
The research taking place by existing PhDs is also being informed by the current generation of feminists.  I would argue considerably more so.

This is most certainly true, I have conducted field research as well.  However, I am speaking specifically about the higher elevation research, which attempts to develop overarching narratives and themes based on a selection of the existing literature.  This guides future areas of study.

I was not referring to consulting others' dissertation topics.  I was, however, referring to teaching being based on prior literature - as described above with other researchers' field reports and narratives.  When a professor of women's studies submits his or her syllabus for review at the beginning of the semester, she must know with absolute certainty that all the material she plans to teach has been peer-reviewed in the literature.  If she interjects perspectives relating to feminism that have not been reviewed in the literature (which may even be factually true if it were published), a student can rightfully criticize her for this.

To return to the original point, my concern is that much of the higher order feminist research currently taking place is overwhelming focusing on one subset of feminist theory - and neglecting to educate students on feminist ideologies that value justice from a non-socioeconomic perspective.  For example, even the notion that there is an umbrella term known as feminist economics - which openly supports a pro-government perspective - suggests that mainstream understanding of "feminism" today is increasing being linked with a left-leaning ideology - which when looking at the collective whole of feminist research (not by sheer number of articles, but my representation), is from from the case.  Feminist ideology at its core is apolitical.

Offline Kythia

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Re: An overview of Feminism and it's terrible representation
« Reply #176 on: December 14, 2014, 09:51:30 AM »
When a professor of women's studies submits his or her syllabus for review at the beginning of the semester, she must know with absolute certainty that all the material she plans to teach has been peer-reviewed in the literature.  If she interjects perspectives relating to feminism that have not been reviewed in the literature (which may even be factually true if it were published), a student can rightfully criticize her for this.

...

wow

...

OK.  I think that might be the root of our problem then, we might be arguing across the Atlantic.

Over here, the 1988 Education Reform Act guarantees the right to: "question and test received wisdom and to put forward new ideas and controversial or unpopular opinions without placing themselves in jeopardy of losing their jobs or the privileges they may have"  Submitting a syllabus for approval would be...I can't imagine.  It's just not conceivable.  There'd be genteel rioting in the streets.

Offline Valthazar

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Re: An overview of Feminism and it's terrible representation
« Reply #177 on: December 14, 2014, 10:12:07 AM »
There is a difference between teaching questionable facts as facts versus the professor questioning assumptions (while permitting - and encouraging - students to disagree openly and critically analyze content, which may lead to further study).  The latter is healthy, and the 1988 Education Reform Act refers to the latter.

I am sure there is a similar review process in the UK, though the specific nature of the review process may vary.  When liberal arts disciplines like English, Women's Studies, or History are taught in an academic setting, there needs to be some sort of check-and-balance to ensure that the concepts the professor is teaching have at least some recognition and respect in the wider academic community. 

This is also why the concept of tenure is increasingly coming under scrutiny (for other reasons as well).  People like the Kevin MacDonald who were respected professors of Psychology in the past, have now started voicing pro-white racist views, and the university can do very little about this.

Offline Kythia

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Re: An overview of Feminism and it's terrible representation
« Reply #178 on: December 14, 2014, 10:18:23 AM »
I am sure there is a similar review process in the UK, though the specific nature of the review process may vary.  When liberal arts disciplines like English, Women's Studies, or History are taught in an academic setting, there needs to be some sort of check-and-balance to ensure that the concepts the professor is teaching have at least some recognition and respect in the wider academic community.

Not in the same way, no. Professors are expected to be regularly publishing in appropriate places, which ensures their work is up to date, sensible, etc. In some departments there may also be requirements either internal or to guarantee acceptance by professional organisations. Outright review of a syllabus though? God no.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: An overview of Feminism and it's terrible representation
« Reply #179 on: December 15, 2014, 12:01:34 AM »
Speaking from Sweden here, I have never heard of a professor (or a college of professors in a subject) having to make sure in advance that every single item on the reading syllabus, and what they're planning to say in their lectures, have been solidly peer-reviewed in the sense of that word within the medical/natural science community, and that those articles and books are "free of bias" or theories that are too new - or members of the teaching staff would risk getting sued or disciplined by the head of the university. I have a hard time seeing how that could work within humanities, historical or social studies. No one expects every single item you read at a course in modern history, philosophy, law or women's studies to be free of any kind of bias or not arguing some points of its own beyond what sits safely upon what is already assured by the consensus of research.

So yes, I think Kythia is right this could be about U.S. standards (at some universites?) vs UK/European standards.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2014, 12:04:14 AM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Valthazar

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Re: An overview of Feminism and it's terrible representation
« Reply #180 on: December 15, 2014, 05:27:37 AM »
I suggested that deviating from scholarly literature causes the professor to open herself up to criticism (nothing to do with getting sued).  I was speaking specifically about the written syllabus itself (not what is orally taught in class, since that is virtually impossible to regulate on a case-by-case basis).  I was also not making any commentary about this being an administrative means to combat bias in teaching.  Rather, it is necessary to ensure that the views being taught are respected by at least some other groups of scholars in the field.  This prevents fringe views (which may be of a suspect nature) from being taught.  Often times, by its very nature, teaching is inherently biased - since instructors survey the literature and can choose only a selection of content to teach students.

In the US, there are no universal "curriculum standards" for higher education, but rather, regional private accreditation agencies.  Universities voluntarily apply for accreditation, and are only obligated to undergo the review/renewal process so long as the university wishes to stay accredited.  There are literally hundreds (if not more) accrediting agencies in the US, so each university has a different curriculum/syllabus review process based on their accrediting agencies' stringency.

Virginal Tech's syllabus and course approval process offers a great overview of the process.  Rhode Island College goes into extreme depth about the structure of their undergraduate curriculum committee.

I am not involved with women's studies, so I decided to search for some examples of course proposal forms in women's studies online. 

Examples
University of Maryland - Baltimore County states, "We ask that courses designated GWST be informed by contemporary gender and women’s studies scholarship and that for that will count for the Critical Sexuality Studies minor be informed by LGBT, queer, and sexuality studies scholarship."

The University of New England states that, "course content must clearly reflect and acquaint students with recent scholarship on women, gender, and/or feminist theory."

Nazareth College has a word document which outlines their requirements for new courses in their syllabus review process.  The document states how, "The course should represent and employ recent feminist scholarship, methodologies, concepts and analyses so that students can acquire an understanding of the multiplicity of feminist approaches and perspectives and can develop their own informed positions on the issues raised in class." 

Recently, Gettysburg College actually ran into a similar dilemma we are facing in this thread - where some instructors were trying to introduce "unconventional" topics (which were not always literature based) into their women's studies program.  This was the solution they decided:

"On the one hand, we wanted to choose courses in a way that protected the scholarly quality of the women's studies program; on the other hand, we were well aware of the political risks we ran by excluding some courses.  We finally set up two classifications for courses -- core and affiliated -- with stricter standards for the core courses than for the affiliated, but with a limit on how many affiliated courses a student could count toward the women's studies minor (no more than 2 out of 6)."
« Last Edit: December 15, 2014, 05:33:48 AM by Valthazar »