The study of gender, sexuality, and feminism is different everywhere you go. Therefore, there are study abroad programs related to these subjects all over the world, but each culture has its own approach to the field. Investigating gender, sexuality, and feminism requires students to engage in a variety of disciplines, including history, religion, race, social policy, law, and even behavioral science and biology. To study gender and sexuality abroad is to expose yourself to unfamiliar practices and perspectives, and in doing so, expand your platform for tackling larger questions regarding gender roles, LGBT rights, political activism, domestic violence, and many more aspects of society.
Why Study Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Abroad
Gender and sexuality are crucial to identity construction, and understanding our own identities depends largely on our own culture. Studying abroad allows students to fully experience diverse environments and the challenges of people around the globe, while coming to understand how culture contributes to larger conversations on women, gender, and sexuality.
If you’re interested in social policy, education, or social work on the international level, studying abroad can be a crucial personal and professional experience.
Western Europe. There are plenty of study abroad programs focused on gender and sexuality studies across Europe, but some of the more focused and challenging courses can be found in England, the Netherlands, and Denmark. These locations are widely regarded as some of the most developed and tolerant cultures in the world.Themes having to do with public policy, social work, sex trafficking, and queer theory are all good research topics within the context of Western Europe.
The Middle East. Students who decide to study gender and sexuality in the Middle East will learn how to approach the subjects through a largely Islamic or Muslim perspective. Many study abroad programs in the Middle East give students the chance to travel to places like Beirut and the West Bank to trace various types of gender constructions through history, literature, and social theory. This is a great region for those looking to examine ideologies of women and gender from a non-western perspective, or those who have a particular interest in the crossroads of religion and women’s rights.
Latin America. Latin America has a number of widespread problems when it comes to women, sexuality, and violence. Students interested in legal policy, sociology, and the behavioral sciences should particularly consider studying feminism, gender, and sexuality in Latin America. Many underdeveloped nations throughout the region, such as Mexico and Argentina, are currently working to find solutions to the extensive difficulties that stunt social and economic growth. Students may, for example, have the opportunity to examine the crossroads of multiculturalism and politics in relation to gender studies.
Courses & Programs
Although these subjects can easily be studied simultaneously, each one can also be isolated and explored individually. Each study abroad program will focus on different topics and have its’ own approach to the field, meaning each student’s experience will be entirely unique.
Gender Studies. In these gender courses, students will investigate how gender is constructed and perceived in terms of cultural paradigms, societal norms, biology, and psychology. Course offering may include opportunities to explore gender and feminist theory, as well as more specific aspects like the function of gender in the military. Gender studies courses will challenge traditional notions of masculinity and femininity, and provide students with alternative views of gender and gender roles.
Sexuality Studies. While strongly connected to gender theory, sexuality courses focus more specifically on sexual identity and methodology, with an emphasis on queer theory, the LGBT movement, and gay and lesbian history. Many sexuality courses are combined with workshops and lectures involving visits to outside organizations, like the European Thematic Network of Women's Studies (ATHENA).
Activism & Social Policy. Policy focused courses push students to get out of the classroom and join the larger discussion of women and gender in the real world: challenging the status quo, changing the laws that govern, and advancing human rights and equality. This subfield includes gritty subjects that are difficult to discuss, like discrimination, human trafficking, contraception, prostitution, and rape and other forms of violence against women. Students engaged in this material during their time abroad will be provided with the necessary training needed to express tough concerns and enact real social change.
Many study abroad programs are offered in the summer, but it’s not hard to find semester-long courses for spring and fall too. Most programs allow students to conduct field research, create their own projects, or combine coursework with an internship. Gender-focused study abroad programs usually involve workshops and informative field trips to neighboring countries or relevant organizations.
Experience. There is no substitute for hands-on experience in a foreign setting. Since ideas of gender and sexuality vary from region to region, it’s critical that students concentrating in this field have an understanding of how different cultures approach these topics.
Opportunity. Many of study abroad programs are designed to bring students into contact with groups and organizations working to improve conditions for people around the world. Students will therefore have the chance to learn from and work with international groups and professionals in the field, and build a network of opportunities to utilize after graduation.