- Transforming Scholarship: Why Women's and Gender Studies Students Are Changing Themselves and the World by Michele Tracy Berger and Cheryl Radeloff, and: Feminist Activism in Academia: Essays on Personal, Political and Professional Change ed. by Ellen C. Mayock and Domnica Radulescu, and: Reconstructing Policy in Higher Education: Feminist Poststructural Perspectives ed. by Elizabeth J. Allan, Susan Iverson, and Rebecca Ropers-Huilman
Higher education can be a setting where individuals can develop and see the world and themselves in a new light. When assumptions are challenged and new knowledge is created, opportunities for transformation and more equitable outcomes are possible. Each book contained in this review speaks to these opportunities and calls for its readers to engage differently with individuals, scholarship, coursework, the academy, discourse, or policy. The books pose thoughtful, sometimes difficult questions, while also appropriately avoiding offering readers easy, simplistic answers. I found the content of each book to be compelling on both the personal and professional levels and recommend them, particularly Transforming Scholarship and Reconstructing Policy in Higher Education, for use in relevant courses. Feminist Activism in Academia and Reconstructing Policy in Higher Education are useful for those interested in reflective reading and a call to action for scholars and activists interested in challenging the status quo and learning new strategies for responding to or dismantling those norms.
Written with the intended audience of prospective and current undergraduates interested in learning more about the intricacies of being a women's and gender studies (WGS) major, Transforming Scholarship: Why Women's and Gender Studies Students Are Changing Themselves and the World by Michele Tracy Berger and Cheryl Radeloff offers a response to those who ask what one can do with a WGS degree. Drawing from survey and interview data with WGS graduates, the authors offer readers an overview of what students might expect as a WGS student.
Transforming Scholarship is organized into three sections—with two chapters contained in each—representing three time-points relevant to a student: the pre-college or early college career year(s) prior to declaring a major, the college years as a declared WGS major, and the post-college career. In the first section, the authors provide an overview of the history of the WGS major, a description of how its structure might vary by institution, an overview of key theories and sample courses that might be offered, and a list of the professional associations and organizations that might be relevant. Much of the information presented [End Page 205] in this section has applicability for non-WGS students as well, such as the difference between a major, minor, and concentration, making it a worthwhile read for students unsure of their choice of major.
The second section, concerning those who have committed to WGS, has a chapter dedicated to justifying this choice of major to others, particularly family, friends, and coworkers. As the authors note in the introduction to the book, students pursuing WGS degrees are often questioned about their choice, and are asked to respond to stereotypes and misconceptions about this major. The authors address some of these questions and offer both strategies for responding and arguments to use when doing so. The chapter also includes stories and strategies from WGS graduates, which contribute to a greater understanding of the range and depth of questions that students might face and the variety of possible responses. Concepts like gender, intersectionality, inequality, equity, and empowerment are defined and introduced in the second chapter in this section as lenses that can frame coursework. Students are also encouraged to consider their inner strengths and conditions for success.