Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Women's Studies

Major Professor

Kim M. Vaz, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Linda E. Lucas, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Gurleen Grewal, Ph.D.


syllabi, classroom, theory, politics, self-reflectivity


In this thesis, I examine the relationship between activism and the two introductory-level Women's Studies classes, Introduction to Women's Studies and Issues in Feminism, and the social justice mission of the Women's Studies department. These two classes are the pillars for the program and are often the first classes that draw students into the program. I propose that the Women's Studies department does promote social justice through the curriculum and there are ways that the department could do more to facilitate activism in the classroom and beyond the classroom.

The Women's Studies department at the University of South Florida is one of the longest freestanding Women's Studies departments. The department was established in 1970 and as an academic field is a child of the idealism and activism of the feminist movement. I believe that Women's Studies as an academic discipline has a responsibility to promote social justice because of its parentage. A case study approach enables me to see how activism manifests in a very specific location and provides real-life examples that can then be applied and adapted to other programs.

I conducted two different analyses of the department: a syllabus review and in-depth interviews with instructors. The intention of the syllabus review was to see how the classes present on paper. The interviews allowed me to examine what actually occurred in the classroom. I was able to provide a snapshot of the call to activism, the manifestations of activism, and the facilitation of activism, which enabled me to theorize new ways to incorporate activism into not only introductory-level classes, but to all Women's Studies classes.