Women's Studies Program

The Program in Women's Studies at Duke University is dedicated to exploring gender identities, relations, practices, theories and institutions. In the field's first decades, feminist scholarship reoriented traditional disciplines toward the study of women and gender and developed new methodologies and critical vocabularies that have made interdisciplinarity a key feature of Women's Studies as an autonomous field. Today, scholars continue to explore the meaning and impact of identity as a primary though by no means transhistorical or universal way of organizing social life by pursuing an intersectional analysis of gender, race, sexuality, class, and nationality. In the classroom, as in our research, our goal is to transform the university's organization of knowledge by reaching across the epistemological and methodological divisions of historical, political, philosophical, economic, representational, technological and scientific analysis. In our Program's dual emphasis on interdisciplinarity and intersectionality, we offer students new knowledge while equipping them with a wide range of analytical and methodological skills.

Many students identify women's studies courses as among the most exciting and enlightening they take at Duke. The women and men who enroll in our classes each semester gain the opportunity to understand how social, historical, and psychological forces, organized by the central concept of gender, shape them as individuals; attain a fuller understanding of human behavior, culture, and society made possible by investigating women's lives; acquaint themselves with the experience of women of different economic classes, sexual orientations, and cultural and racial backgrounds; and transfer the critical and analytical skills they acquire in the study of gender and society to other classes, beyond the campus to other activities, and eventually to their professional careers.

Women's Studies has, since its inception, been an interdisciplinary field. It has consistently assessed the strengths and challenges of such interdisciplinarity. Duke students find their background in Women's Studies to be a valuable resource for their professional development and lifelong intellectual growth. In recent years, Women's Studies graduates have found themselves well prepared to pursue advanced degrees in every discipline; training in the legal and medical professions; employment in community service agencies; leadership roles in local, state, and national government; artistic expression in the creative arts; and positions in the corporate world.


210 East Duke Building
Durham , NC 27708
Ph. (919) 668-2548
Fx. (919) 684-4871


Principal Staff

Ranjana Khanna, Program Director
Ph. (919) 668-2548
E-mail: rkhanna@duke.edu

Featured Events

Projects & Campaigns

For the past few years, Duke Women's Studies has had a programming theme which has attached to it a fall grad and post grad seminar, a film series, and other events throughout the year. Last year the theme was "Future of the Feminist '70s" and the year before it was "The Question of Species" (focused on human/non-human connections). The theme for 2012-13 is Feminism and Freedom. Professor Frances Hasso will be teaching a graduate/post-graduate seminar on Feminism and Freedom that will be offered in Fall 2012.
We are interested to understand how some of the major interventions of the 1970's--for example, feminist art and film practices, marxist and radical feminism, eco-feminism, lesbian separatism, human and civil rights discourse, cold war divisions and non-aligned movements, and postcolonial internationalism---continue to have an impact on feminist thought, offer important interventions into contemporary questions, or map the futures of feminism. Throughout the year we will engage the The Future of the Feminist 1970s with a variety of events, projects and courses.
The 2010-11 annual theme is Animals and the Question of Species and will revolve around three major points: new theoretical formulations in continental philosophy around the question of human exceptionalism; the human/animal boundary and connection, and the ethics, politics, and advocacy that flow from those; and the role of gender in developing a greater understanding of nonhuman animals.
As many may know, a discourse emerged in the mid-1970's that aimed to investigate the connection between feminism and earth and animals. These women called themselves Eco-Feminists and generated many ideas about the nature of women, the plight of animals, and the need for conservation. Due to a whole host of theoretical and practical conflicts, this project was never seriously embraced by academic feminists. Duke Women's Studies New Eco-feminism project hopes to revisit these questions, and develop theories and methodologies that will resonate within academic feminism today. We learned from E2T that there is a great need for further study of conservation, land use, and animal advocacy, not just from the perspective of science but from the humanities and interpretive sciences as well. We believe that contemporary feminist theory has much to offer such an engagement. Despite the fact that our eco-feminist foremothers may have been entrenched in essentialist ideology in their formulations, we believe their questions were the right ones. What can feminist thinking offer in response to the many global crises we face today including massive development, deforestation, animal torture, extinction, habitat loss, pollution, and global warming? 


Opportunities, Grants & Fellowships

Graduate Employment Opportunities

Independent Study and the Moxie Project

The Moxie Project is a selective one-year experience at Duke University that combines academic, professional and applied learning experiences to foster leadership development undergraduates. Over the year, students will participate in a Course on Women and Leadership, an eight week NYC Summer Internship, and a Fall Capstone Seminar.  The Moxie Project is supported by DukeEngage. More information is available on the Moxie Project website.

Each fellowship carries a nine-month ~ $21,580 stipend (tuition and fees to be paid by the Graduate School). Please note that only students in years one through six are eligible for health insurance. Beginning in year seven, students are responsible for providing their own health insurance.