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NWSA Journal 15.1 (2003) 118-131

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The Women's Studies Ph.D.:
An Archive

Jean Fox O'Barr and Stephanie A. Shields

The Ph.D. in Women's Studies: Implications and Articulations was a working conference held at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, 12-14 October 2001. It was the first North American meeting devoted to a discussion of the emergent doctoral programs in Women's Studies. The conference attracted representatives from over fifty institutions across the United States and Canada. The one hundred conference participants included graduate students in the new programs, faculty from universities offering the degree, and scholars interested in the development of the field.

On the first day, participants heard representatives of established programs discuss their programs' beginnings in widely varying institutional settings. Reports on curricular design, strategies for balancing or negotiating disciplinarity and interdisciplinarity, research topics being pursued by doctoral candidates, and implications for social change of knowledge production by women's studies doctorates were presented.

The evening sessions and the second day were taken up with wide-ranging discussions, both in plenary sessions and topical workshops. Participants exchanged experiences, debated implications of the development of the doctorate, and imagined future possibilities.

The conference purpose, explained in the participants' invitations, remained the focal point of conversation:

As the number of institutions granting doctoral degrees in Women's Studies has grown from none to two to ten or twelve and beyond, the time has come to hold a conference dedicated to discussions of this important development and its implications for all levels of women's studies education. These conversations have already begun at various locations; we now need to bring together individuals from many different sites within and outside Women's Studies to share information and consider the future of graduate education in our field. At this working conference—envisioned as the first of a series—all attendees will be active participants and contributors. We anticipate that a publication will develop out of this working conference.

The conference was initiated by informal conversations begun by Sally Kitch two years earlier at meetings of both the National Council for Research on Women (NCRW) and the National Women's Studies Association (NWSA). She gathered a number of interested people and they met, with some support from the Nag's Heart Foundation, at Duke [End Page 118] University, Durham, North Carolina, in April 2000. The same group, with assistance from Duke, Ohio State University, the University of Maryland, Emory University, and the Nag's Heart Foundation, met a second time in New Mexico in December 2000 to process applications and make final arrangements. The working committee was independent of any formal organization; the conference was endorsed by both NCRW and NWSA. Funding came through fees and the generosity of the Ford Foundation and Emory University.

The planning committee, listed in alphabetical order, consisted of Frances Smith Foster, Emory University; Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Spelman College; Paula Jayne, Emory University; Sally Kitch, Ohio State University; Wendy Kolmar, Drew University; Inez Martinez, Kingsborough Community College; Vivian May, William Paterson University; Claire Moses, University of Maryland; Jean O'Barr, Duke University; Stephanie Shields, Pennsylvania State University; and Bonnie Zimmerman, San Diego State University.

Jean O'Barr, with Bonnie Zimmerman and Vivian May, organized the first two plenary sessions to describe the state of the field at conference time; Stephanie Shields organized the poster sessions at which each program summarized their mission, program of study, application process, etc. At the conclusion of the conference, Jean and Stephanie agreed to make the material they had gathered available in published form. They are grateful to Pennsylvania State University student researchers, Maegan Dillman and Traci Frye who did additional fact checking to compile this list of the programs' status in summer 2002. At this writing, Women's Studies Ph.D. programs are available at twelve universities in the United States.

Women's Studies Ph.D. Programs in the United States

Clark University

Department/Program Name: Women's Studies

Degree Offered: Ph.D. in Women's Studies

Year Program Approved: 1992

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