Bader International Study Centre


at Herstmonceux Castle, U.K.



at Herstmonceux Castle, U.K.

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GNDS 215/3.0 Introduction to Sexual and Gender Diversity

Instructor: Dr. Rachael Johnstone

Course Description

This course aims to provide an introduction to the issues and theories that characterize the field of sexual and gender diversity. Students will learn foundational and emerging theoretical frameworks and examine their implications for the study of a range of issues. Feminism has progressed from a movement focused solely on differential treatment rooted in sex and gender to one fundamentally connected with a diversity of issues and experiences. This shift is reflected in the issues explored in this class, especially matters of identity (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer identities) as they intersect with race, class, location, and (dis)ability. Students will use these foundations to consider current issues in gender studies, including the global sex trade, domestic violence, and pornography. Finally, this class will consider strategies for social and political change through a study of reproductive politics and social activism.

Expected Learning Outcomes
  • Understand a diversity of sexual and gender identities.
  • Recognize and be able to critically evaluate the ways identity categories are created in different time periods and locations 
  • Confidently engage with on-going debates in the field.
  • Develop and hone critical analysis and writing skills.
  • Understand how theory is/can be applied to real world situations.
  • Reflect on strategies that might be used to secure social and political change.
Field Studies

The experiential learning opportunities for this course will provide students with the opportunity to explore the central course concepts in various settings. The field studies for this course will be planned to include relevant and timely learning opportunities. The following are examples of field studies that may be planned for this course.  

  • Transgendered Speaker at the Castle
  • Centre Audiovisuel Simone de Beauvoir (Paris)
Primary Research Expectations

The field studies we engage in will inform both class discussions and the final research essay. It is thus important to take careful notes during field studies so that you are able to reference information gathered through conversations, questions, presentations, and so on, while in the field.


Past evaluation structure:

  • Participation: 15%
  • Critical Response Papers (3x10%): 30%
  • Presentation/Discussion Questions: 20%
  • Research Essay: 35%