Problems with Crosslisting Women's Studies Courses
              *A compliation of messages from WMST-L*

     The following query is followed by ten responses.

Date:         Tue, 10 Nov 1992 22:11:20 EDT
Subject:      We need advice

 Can a department chair in a different unit
'reasonably' tell faculty members that crosslisting a
course in Women's Studies denies the department control over its courses?
The reason being given is that it is an 'administrative
problem' because the department designed the course and now
someone is making it into something else.  Therefore,
the department no longer has control over what is being
taught in its classes - Women's Studies does.

The faculty member brought up issues of autonomy, cultural
diversity, minority viewpoints (supported by the university)
but the chair person says those are not the issues, the issue
is now Women's Studies has control over another dept's classes.
He also said students should not be forced to take a W.S. course
and if crosslisted course is only section offered on a required
course, then students will complain.

Feedback please!
Donna C. Phillips

Date:         Wed, 11 Nov 1992 06:29:08 -0600
From:         "JANIS BOHAN (556-3088/3205, MSC BOX 54)" 
Subject:      Re: We need advice

Donna Phillips wonders how to negotiate cross-listing courses between
Women's Studies (WMS) and other departments.  My department, which suffers
from what I fear is a terminal case of elitism, has always resisted
cross-listing with WMS, one argument being that we have no control over the
"quality" of the course.  We have recently been able to resolve this by
a) the psychology department's participating in selecting faculty to teach
the courses -- actually, only a handful of people bother, but it makes them
feel in control, and b) the psychology department's curriculum committee
reviewing/approving the syllabus before the course is offered.  Using this
method we now cross-list several courses and have even negotiated a joint
PSY-WMS appointment.  Perhaps it is relevant that we have a new department
chair - a woman, not a feminist but more amenable to the persuasive
efforts of some of us in the department who are.

Janis Bohan
Metropolitan State College of Denver

Date:         Wed, 11 Nov 1992 09:40:12 EST
Subject:      Re: We need advice

in reply to Donna PHilips' query about negotiating cross-listing courses with
department.  This is undoubtedly a dilemma for all of us who direct programs
and who struggle with developing a sufficient curriculum for our students.  It
seems to me that one tack to take with departments who claim they have no
control over cross-listed WS courses is to argue that cross-listing is a
voluntary state of affairs. That is no course is ever cross-listed from any
department without that departments at least tacit agreement to do so.  The
department doesn't lose any control over its curriculum because it has already
approved a course (presumably if the course exists).  Women's Studies may have
its own set of requirements. If the course meets them fine.  If not then the
course isn't cross-listed. But cross-listing seems to me always to be a mutual
agreement that a course sufficiently meets the requirements of a course in more
than one discipline. There is plenty of institutional precedent for this,for
instance in the English department I was previously affliated with we routinely
cross-listed literature courses in translation from the Modern Language
department. We didn't complain (at least not much ;-) about our own autonomy.

I do think this issue is an important one,especially as women's studies
programs attempt to get some control over their own curriculum.  I know I am
now looking very hard at the mechanisms we have here for cross-listing courses
so that I can decide what courses should and shouldn't be cross listed.

Sorry for the diatribe.

Laurie Finke
Women's and Gender Studies
Kenyon College

Date:         Wed, 11 Nov 1992 10:36:00 EST
Subject:      Re: We need advice

I find the arguments about cross listing in women's studies odd, but
perhaps we need to know more about what cross-listing means at
various institutions.
At the University of Pittsburgh, most faculty and departments seek
cross-listing from Women's Studies because it usually increases
enrollments.  The women's Studies Steering Committee reviews the
courses submitted to us for academic content and feminist
orientation and then cross lists the courses we feel are good
courses.  They are still listed in the department they originated
in.  My Psych course, Human Sexuality, is cross-listed and is
very popular.  Some students know about the cross-listing, but others do
not, and simply take the course as a Psychology elective.

Date:         Wed, 11 Nov 1992 10:41:28 EDT
Subject:      Irene's Response to my request

Irene's response to my request for help outlines
exactly how our women's studies crosslising works.
In fact, I believe we borrowed the method from irene
who responded early last spring to a previous call
for assist from me.

The problem is a particular dept char believes that
any women's studies course has a 'slant' that may
be offensive to students who enrolled in the crosslisted

I believe that we MAY have satisfied him by agreeing
to run the proposal to crosslist through departmental
faculty before it goes to the W.S. Pgm. Advisory Council.
This did not seem to be an option for him yesterday,
but I have heard that today he seems more agreeable.

I appreciate the feedback I have gotten both on the list
and personnally.  I would welcome any further comments, also.
Donna C. Phillips

Date:         Wed, 11 Nov 1992 11:30:28 EST
From:         "Diana H. Scully" 
Subject:      Re: We need advice

My situation is similar to Irene Frieze in that departments want to
cross list courses with Women's Studies because it generally
increases enrollments.  However, there is another problem and I'd
like to know if anyone has found a solution.  One a course has gone
through the various curriculum committees of the university to make
it cross listed, every time the course is scheduled the computer
sytem will automatically cross list it--regardless of who is teaching
it.  Thus, our problem is that we have no control over the instructor
and consequently no control over course content.  So far, this hasn't
been a problem but in an age of backlash, PC, etc. I worry.  Of
course the ultimate solution is to make Women's Studies a department
with its own faculty but until then, any ideas?
Diana Scully
Virginia Commonwealth University

Date:         Thu, 12 Nov 1992 08:02:00 EST
From:         "(dl81)" 
Subject:      Re: Re: We need advice

I just encountered a cross-listing process, this one at the University of
Maryland/Baltimore County.  Who "controls" the courses is not even an
issue.  I had designed a new core course at the request of the Political
Science Department which will hopefully become a foundation for the
development of more specialized POLISCI courses which address gender variables
as an essential element of the curriculum, entitled Women and Politics.  I
was invited to submit a variety of specific information on the course, my
teaching style, etc., to the Women's Studies Program for consideration by
its own curriculum committee for cross-listing.  If the (Women's
Studies) committee feels that a course is appropriate for its majors, it
is cross-listed.  If it is "just another course on women," it is not.  The
Political Science Department recognizes the value of cross-listing in
attracting a broader range (and higher number) of students and in enhancing
inter-departmental communication and partnership--but there was never a
question of Women's Studies "altering" or "deflecting" the substance of the

I also just completed some consulting with Muhlenburg College in
Pennsylvania, which is at the stage of moving from a group of Women's
Studies courses to the definition of a Minor and establishment of a Program.
The curriculum/coordinating committee engaged in this process is also
determining more concrete criteria for cross-listing (as UMBC already has).  Up
to now, however, they have invited course proposals from faculty across
established disciplinary units, and the committee determines which are
"Women's Studies" as a distinct analytical/theoretical framework.  Again,
there are no imposed constraints by Women's Studies except insofar as
Women's Studies personnel decide whether a particular course legitimately
falls within the Women's Studies classification.

It seems to me the same conditions would prevail in the converse situation,
of another department deciding whether to cross-list a Women's Studies
course--either the course (as designed and taught by WS faculty) meets the
curriculum criteria of that department or not.

Why is there a problem?

Date:         Thu, 12 Nov 1992 08:41:00 CDT
From:         Virginia Sapiro 
Subject:      Re: We need advice

The questions of cross-listing and control issues is often a difficulty for
women's studies programs. In the program here at Wisconsin - Madison we have
had important issues of this sort raised a number of times -- but I remember
more issues raised in terms of the control Women's Studies might lose if we
cross-list out to another department, and they offered the course in a manner
that our own curriculum committee might not see as suitable. We have also had
hesitations sometimes about cross-listing courses from other departments when
we have no idea who might be the instructors in the long term (the title of a
course doesn't tell all). Finally, there are issues of which department gets
"credit" for the enrollment.

Our solution has been to move slowly and carefully about cross-listing. But
also, I believe we have used the convention that cross-listing is done with the
understanding that the originating unit maintaining the basic control over the

I do not remember a case in which a department kept anyone from cross-listing
her course with women's studies in the end; I think the greatest worries on
their part has been enrollment credit for the department.

Virginia Sapiro
Dept of Political Science, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison

Date:         Thu, 12 Nov 1992 09:59:18 EST
From:         Barbara.Winkler@UM.CC.UMICH.EDU
Subject:      cross-listing

Quite similar to the cross-listing procedures described by Deb Louis are
the ones developed by the University of Missouri-Columbia's Women Studies
Program.  The additional 'wrinkle' is that departmental courses could
be submitted for one of two categories: 'women studies' and 'women related.'
Criteria involved course content and the behavioral aspects of teaching.
'Women Studies' courses were those grounded in feminist methodology and
scholarship and pedagogy, while 'women related' focused specific class
time on the study of women and were taught from an anti-sexist perspective.
Faculty who wished to have their departmentally based courses cross-
listed with Women Studies would voluntarily undergo screening for one
of the two categories.  If a course were not cross-listed by the Program
that didn't mean it wasn't taught - it still had departmental standing.
I should point out that these criteria, developed in the mid-eighties
caused a fair amount of controversy in the Program's governance
committee, especially the pedagogical aspect.  Also, programs which
are just establishing themselves have often tread lightly on the
cross-listing issues so as not to alienate influential and powerful
faculty/departments.  Controversies about cross-listing often coincide
with programs attempting to define the 'field,' assert some control
over the nature and quality of offerings rather than just accepting
any course with 'women' in the title - and often in response to
students' - especially majors, concentrators, etc. complaints.  This
can be threatening to male-dominated departments because women's
studies is setting up a different standard or criteria for knowledge.

Date:     Mon, 16 Nov 92 12:02:22 PST
From:     Tannis MacBeth Williams 
Subject:  We need advice

    Here at the University of British Columbia (where I chair
WMST) we have some courses titled WMST and others with
departmental titles (e.g. PSYCH), both of which receive credit
toward the WMST major.  THe departmental ones also may receive
credit toward the departmental major.  The title of the course
E.g. WMST versus SOCIology versus Psych determines who has control
over assigning profs to teach the course and thus, to a major
extent over the course content.  WMST approves departmental
courses for credit toward its major on the basis of the calendar
description and a course outline, but the latter can change of
course from year to year.  WMST has no say at all in who teaches
a Departymental course, but we do do student evaluations of the
course (including questions about sensitivity of the prof to
issues re racism, sexism, heterosexism etc and approriateness
of the course for the WMST major).  Under this system there
is no way a department could argue that WMST was controlling the
departmental course, since they chose the prof (usually a regular
member of their dept but sometimes a sessional).  It sounds as if
you are talking about a different situation, but I can't figure
out what it is.  If you want more feedback let me know.

Date: Tue, 17 Nov 92 0:04:36 PST

re wmst-l posting on crosslisting and the dept head who is so very worried
about whether someone is going to be offeded by 'slant' of a course that is
cross-listed with Women's Studies.  Is there some reason that the fact of
cross-listing might not be made known in schedules/timetables, if not in the
calendar?  Then the liberal criterion of being able to choose whether one
takes a particular course is fulfilled and caveat emptor is something these
resistant ones do understand.
 Then next we make them reveal their biases in their course descriptions :-)
Women's Studies Department
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby BC  Canada  V5A 1S6