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               CHAPTER 2: Multiple Models


                 Carolyn M. Shrewsbury

Inclusion of service learning activities in the women's studies
curriculum benefits students, the women's studies program, the
university and the community. Comprehensive integration of service
learning concepts and practice, throughout the Women's Studies
curriculum, enhances those benefits, and may well be one key to the
growth and survival of strong women's studies programs in the

Many of the attitudes and activities necessary for such an
integrated curriculum already exist in women's studies programs,
but need to be made explicit in their relationship to service
learning as a means and philosophy of feminist education. The
importance of service learning activities in the overall program is
demonstrated by reference to the criteria used to assess curricular
offerings: scope of the field covered; inclusion of different
ideological perspectives; adequacy of academic standards; relevance
to career preparation; balance between skills and substantive
concerns; attention to both theory and practice; extensiveness of
pedagogical alternatives; provision of research opportunities;
relationship to the community, broadly defined, and to different
feminist communities.

In an effectively integrated curriculum, service learning would
begin in the Women's Studies program's introductory course, and
continue as a coordinated aspect of all curricular offerings.

Introductory courses can introduce service learning in various
ways. Optional projects, for example, might involve occasional or
weekly site visits to potential service learning placements for
inquiry, observation or limited participation. Student papers or
presentations can be related to the concerns or projects of an
agency in which they have an interest. Speakers from campus or
community organizations can be invited to address the class.

In upper division and advanced courses, instructors can make
assignments that would be useful or appropriate for work-related
situations, as well as (or rather than) assigning traditional
academic research papers. In my feminist scholarship class, e.g.,
students prepare testimony for a hearing before a state legislative
committee or commission. In those courses with a public policy
emphasis, the potential for connecting research aspects of public
policy to service learning might be explored even further. Those
courses could put emphasis on the methodologies of needs assessment
and evaluation. Class projects could be developed in cooperation
with groups in the community that need assistance with grant
applications or have use for particular research.

Skills components of women's studies programs, e.g., assertiveness
training, career development, management and problem solving, could
be more integrated into the total curriculum if their usefulness to
students preparing for service-learning placement is clearly

Many institutions offer sponsored experiential learning courses, in
which students devote a number of hours per week to a practicum
placement or field activity, with additional classroom time
provided to examine important issues centering around these work
and service experiences. For the student who has already been
involved in a variety of action projects through previous
course-work, a full-time internship (working hours measured by a
full course load) can help synthesize her program of study. For the
student without such previous exposure, full-time field work could
be an important entre to women's studies.

Collective action courses offer another curricular model for
providing practical experience. In one such course at Mankota State
University, the class worked as a group to research the issue of
sexual harassment on campus; students developed a brochure
explaining the situation they discovered and outlined possible
solutions. Instead of working with or at a particular agency, this
class worked to develop public awareness about an existing problem
and to suggest means for alleviating that problem.

Just as students can work collectively on projects that serve
public and community needs not otherwise being met, they can also
be involved in meeting needs within the women's studies program
itself. By developing orientation sessions for prospective service
learning students, they can share their own previous experiences.
By serving as part of a peer network, they can provide vital
support for students in field placements, particularly those in
stressful or conflictual work sites. By acting as leaders of
co-seminars and discussion groups they can make possible an
activity that small programs might otherwise have to forego.

To ensure that placement experiences are meaningful for both the
intern and the agency/program, formal mechanisms need to be created
by which students can give feedback to a women's studies program,
particularly so the curriculum can be strengthened to better
prepare students to participate in service learning. One way to do
this is to include field supervisors as members of women's studies
program advisory committees.

An ongoing evaluation plan will also help improve the service
learning component of the curriculum and maintain its consistency
with overall program philosophy. It will also indicate the efficacy
of women's studies to university administrators. Several questions
that were part of the original planning for service learning
activities might continue to be examined during evaluation
processes. For example, what kinds of internships are acceptable?
If internships in corporations are appropriate, how should they be
created and managed? What consideration should be given to the
impact of voluteerism on students, and what ways can be found to
ameliorate any negative financial impacts: encouraging agencies
eligible for work-study aid to make use of such funds for service
learning students; approaching women's groups for special
scholarships for service learning activities; urging groups who can
pay student interns to see the importance of such support? Are the
mechanisms for matching student and placement working for the
agency and the student? Are students adequately supported in this
placement? Is the evaluation of the student's work fair and does
that evaluation enhance the learning program? 

Besides benefiting students, service learning activities benefit
community groups, women's studies, and the institution. Community
groups benefit by the greater visibility of the activities that
result from the involvement of excited students, by having access
to the resources of the university, by the "new blood" and skills
students bring with them. Both community and academe benefit from
active communication and healthy interchange between academics and

The women's studies program benefits by giving to the community as
well as getting from it. A natural support network for the program
that must be respected by university officials is enhanced, one
that will often result in new students, especially from previously
hard-to-reach groups. These new students and the demands they bring
will continue to enrich our programs and force us to continue to
challenge the status quo.

The institution benefits by having a stronger women's studies
program, excited and involved students, connections to the
community, and ultimately by the challenge these activities make to
other departments on campus.

Service learning, like women's studies, is a means of empowering
students and contributing to the growth of strong women's
communities on and off campus. The survival of prospering women's
studies programs in the '80s is important to the development of a
more humane society. Given the potential of student enrollment
declines in our universities and with the certainty that financial
resources will be limited, that survival may well depend upon the
ability to develop integrated, innovative programs that meet
students' needs, enhance the strengths and prestige of the
university within its service community and are potential models
for other disciplines. A strong service learning component could be
one key for the accomplishment of those tasks.


                       Elizabeth Jameson

To be effective, a women's studies service learning program must
fit the circumstances of a particular campus. For other programs to
assess the applicability of the Loretto Heights model to their
situations, it is important to be aware of the controlling factors
which shape our Women Studies Practicum: the nature of the college
and its student body, the constraints under which the women studies
program operates, and the college's location in a large urban area.
If these particularities are taken into account, elements of the
Loretto Heights practicum may usefully apply to other small

                    College/Student Profile

Loretto Heights College is a private coeducational liberal arts
college with some 800 undergraduate students. Until 1968 it was a
Catholic women's college. Today, many faculty are nuns (who do not
live in a convent or wear habits and who have endorsed an
impressive statement on feminism and sexism), and the majority of
students are Catholic, many from rural parochial school
backgrounds. Roughly 80 percent of the faculty and students are
female, and many of the younger entering students have never been
in a predominantly male environment. These students are likely to
have highly romanticized visions of womanhood and of marriage.

The largest major is nursing, representing about 40-50 percent of
all graduates. Among the nursing students there are two major
groups: young, traditionally college age students, and some twenty
military nurses a year who are completing B.S. degrees, from whom
Women Studies draws a disproportionately high number of students
and of minors. In addition, we draw disproportionately from the
University Without Walls, an individualized degree program which
represents some 20 percent of all graduates, about 80 of whom take
LHC courses each year. UWW attracts many "older" women returning to
school and a number of feminists in their 20's and 30's.

The "average" Loretto Heights student is a woman in her mid-to-late
twenties, Caucasian, middle to upper class, interested in the
health sciences with a large number of available female role
models, and who frequently has had some work experience before
enrolling in the practicum. However, there is no really "average"
Women Studies student, and our interns tend to be young nursing
students with parochial school backgrounds, or older, more
independent women with some work experience and a sharper awareness
of sexism and of the feminist movement. Interns are either
developing awareness of feminist career opportunities and enhancing
growing feminist consciousness, or they are relatively new to the
worlds of work and of feminism. This lack of experience is somewhat
tempered by the clinical component of the nursing program, so that
some of the younger interns do have the hospital setting to compare
with their placement sites.

The internship is part of an 18-credit minor in Women Studies, 2-6
credits of which must be practicum. This requirement is consistent
with goals of feminist service learning generally; it is envisioned
as a place from which students can relate the academic skills and
interests of women studies to the "real world" of women's needs.
Like most of the feminist agencies in which we place women studies
interns, the women studies program is understaffed and over
committed. I am the only professional staff, and my half-time
position includes all aspects of running a research center and the
Women Studies Minor, teaching a course a term besides the
practicum, and non-curricular programming. In my copious free time
I administer the internships and meet with and advise practicum
students. Fortunately, given limited staff time, we have many fewer
minors than women studies students and tend, on the average, to
have only 1-3 interns per term. Therefore, we have no ongoing
internships (positions which are continuously staffed by a Loretto
Heights student) and an independent study format instead of a
formal co-seminar.

Ironically, given the problems of more geographically isolated
schools, we always have more potential placement sites than
interns. Denver is a large urban area with a rich variety of
feminist agencies and organizations eager to sponsor women studies
interns. There is, however, considerable instability of feminist
placement sites; our state Commission of Women was just unfunded by
the State Legislature, and several safe houses for battered women
were recently denied city funding and closed while new funding was
arranged. Given this instability and the unpredictable numbers and
interests of student interns, I tend to arrange placements each
term, using as a placement base my contacts with the Denver area
feminist community, and trying always to have a number of contacts
going with health-related agencies. Such a process might be more
difficult for one who was new to an area or who had fewer resources
on which to draw; however, community-based feminist agencies are a
good base for developing placements, and persons in one agency will
generally refer to other or more appropriate persons and agencies.

Our placement process begins when a student comes to me and
expresses an interest in the Women Studies Practicum. I talk with
the student to assess her/his needs and desires from a placement
experience, like specific work skills, exposure to a feminist work
setting, exposure to the corporate work world, interest in a
particular issue like rape or daycare, etc. I also try to assess
the student's previous experience and more intangible qualities
like maturity, level of feminist consciousness, need for
supervision, etc. It is extremely important to match skills and
motives to appropriate placement sites; a student who wanted
primarily to develop skills in non-hierarchical management would
not necessarily fit in well at the local Women's Bank, for

I then suggest several placement alternatives which might fit the
student's needs and describe what I know of the agency and the work
the student might be doing there. My guidelines for appropriate
placements are: the supervisor must be a self-identified feminist,
s/he must be willing to engage in ongoing contracting and
supervision and must be willing to act as a teacher, and the work
for the intern must be "real" work, not "busy work" which could be
learned in any office setting.

The student selects a placement or placements to explore, and
contacts the work supervisor to discuss the matter. When a student
and a supervisor have agreed to the internship, they negotiate a
contract, which may be renegotiated, regarding the student's
learning goals, the work to be done, the number of hours and work
time committed per week, the nature and frequency of supervision,
the criteria for evaluating the intern, and other matters
appropriate to the student's relationship to the placement site.
The student then contracts with me, the Practicum Instructor,
regarding her more analytic and personal learning goals, reading
and written assignments, a regular meeting time, and evaluation
criteria. Essentially we structure an independent study which is
the rough equivalent of the co-seminar in a larger program. For
each credit, the student must work the equivalent of 2.5 hours a
week for a 16-week term, or perform roughly 40 hours or work per
credit. In addition, s/he keeps a journal or other record of the
work experience, does some related reading and short written
assignments analyzing the placement experience, and writes a final
evaluation of the internship, taking into account the goals
outlined in the original contracts with the instructor and the work
supervisor. I assign the final grade, after consulting with the
placement supervisor and the student.

What sorts of jobs have LHC Women Studies interns held? The
majority have been health- or service-related, including rape
counseling, and doing a survey of resources for battered women in
the area. (In this instance, I was the placement supervisor and the
directory produced is used by our women's center.) One student who
had trained in sexuality counseling ran a sexuality workshop for
her practicum, supervised by a local feminist therapist. Other
internship possibilities have included doing research on day care
available at Colorado work sites for the state Commission on Women,
interning as a legislative lobbyist for NOW, and working as a
legislative intern for a feminist State Senator.

In addition, there are potential placements at non-feminist
worksites, if the student is placed with a feminist supervisor.
These may be one solution for programs with fewer potential
feminist placement sites. For instance, a business major will do
her practicum in the near future with a feminist who is a Public
Relations Director for Mountain Bell Telephone Company. The
supervisor helped to form a group called Women in Management at
Mountain Bell, and I fantasize that the student will learn
something about establishing feminist support networks in the
corporate world, as well as learn about public relations.

Considerable responsibility falls on the independent study
component of the practicum to encourage feminist learning from the
work experience. Students are encouraged to see their internships
in relation to others' by using as a frame of reference their
previous work experiences. Although there is a disadvantage to
students in the lack of exchange with other interns, there is some
advantage in the individualized approach of the small program: I
can create assignments to fit the student's particular needs. 

                    Who Makes the Coffee? 
         Strategies for Encouraging Feminist Learning
                In Programs Without Co-Seminars

A small service learning program which runs essentially as an
independent study cannot provide the same rich exchange of
experience which students in larger programs may gain through
co-seminars, and it can become an imaginative exercise to encourage
each student's feminist learning throughout her internship. This
possibility of meeting each individual student where s/he is and
moving from that place can also provide a nourishing learning
situation; the strategies for learning designed to complement a
placement are limitless, and some exercises might be useful in
co-seminars as well.

The exact knowledge, skills, and attitudes I try to encourage vary
with each student, depending on her level of development in job
skills, interpersonal skills, analytic skills, and feminist
consciousness. Until a student has, for example, recognized the
existence of subtle and overt job discrimination, it is relatively
meaningless to encourage her to develop skills to combat sexism at
the worksite. Until she is aware of differences in hierarchically
and non-hierarchically structured offices, it doesn't mean much to
suggest she grapple with the difficulties and advantages of each
structure. I have sponsored interns who did not particularly need
individually designed exercises to encourage their learning, but
who were ready to devote their major energy to exploring a career
or issue. With these students, I generally assign related reading
and ask for a journal and a reflective paper for processing the
experience. But for other students, newer to the worlds of work and
of feminism, I have tried to devise exercises to enhance feminist
awareness through the internship.

I realize that I rely heavily on my own experience, asking myself
how I became aware of the existence of sexism, how that manifested
itself in my early job experiences, what models I had of feminist
coping strategies, etc. My academic background as a cultural
historian prompts some of the exercises, both in terms of what I
ask students to observe, and in my concept of student as
participant/observer at the placement site. I find it useful to
employ a non-feminist work setting as a frame of reference; if the
student is interning at a feminist agency, I rely on past work
experiences in more traditional settings, or on interviews which
the student conducts with women working in traditional settings, to
provide this contrast.

If the intern works at a traditional work situation (always, in my
program, with a feminist supervisor), then the task is, broadly, to
enhance consciousness of sex-typed roles and behaviors, and to
increase awareness of survival strategies for women in "the regular
work world." If the work site is a feminist agency, then the
student may analyze how "feminist" the work structure is, how
women's roles differ in feminist and in traditional settings, how
feminist goals, processes, and interpersonal contacts contrast with
those of the dominant business world. The following suggestions are
some exercises I have used in the independent study component of a
women studies internship; each person can probably devise countless
others that fit a personal teaching style and individual student

1. Analyze the decision making and work structure of the office.  
   Who sets goals, makes policy? Who implements policy? What      
   distinguishes persons who do the "scut" work from persons in   
   policy-making positions (race, gender, age, volunteer status,  

2. In agencies trying to develop non-hierarchical structures, how 
   is policy made? How are responsibilities determined? What are  
   the long- and short-term hassles and benefits of consensual    
   decision making, in terms of both making and implementing      

3. Observe informal decision-making patterns and interactions, to 
   distinguish sexist, classist, agist, and racist behavior. Who  
   talks with whom? About what? How often? What names do various  
   personnel call one another by? (Is it Janey and Mr. Smith?) Who 
   stands in whose presence? Are there language or touch patterns 
   which reinforce hierarchy at the worksite? For instance, since 
   many Loretto Heights students are student nurses, I ask them to 
   use hospital etiquette as a reference (and to compare the roles 
   of nurses in traditional hospitals with, say, a rape counseling 
   situation). Students generally observe that doctors initiate   
   touch with nurses, but not vice versa, and that doctors talk   
   medical slang ("cutting") until nurses join them, and then they 
   switch to technical language ("Appendectomy").

4. Interview other workers at your placement about their duties,  
   compensations, how they cope with childcare and housework      
   responsibilities, what place work has in their lives, etc. (Do 
   all co-workers consider themselves responsible for household and 
   family duties? Who does their laundry, gets dinner, etc.?)

5. Talk with co-workers about why they work and what satisfaction 
   they derive from it. How does the meaning of work differ for you 
   (the intern), for women, and for men in traditional and in     
   feminist work-sites?

6. Analyze the job classifications and, if possible, the pay scale 
   for the occupations at your agency. Analyze jobs by job title, 
   duties, and pay, and by who performs them. Question: How is an 
   executive secretary different from an administrative assistant? 
   Answer: She does everything he does for half the pay and makes 
   the coffee besides.

7. Have lunch with the managers and with the secretaries. How long 
   does each group take for lunch? Where do they go? How much, on 
   the average, do they spend for lunch? If there is an employees' 
   lunch-room, who eats there? What does each group talk about? How 
   do members of the group relate to one another? (This exercise  
   could be translated to joining other employees in off-work     
   activities, of finding out what they do after work or on       
   weekends, comparing by job, marital status, parental status,   

8. If the supervisor is a feminist in a traditional worksite,     
   compare her supervisory style with other persons in similar    
   positions. Does her secretary have a different feeling/working 
   relationship than other secretaries have with their bosses? Who 
   makes the coffee in the office? 

The possibilities are infinite and can draw on other resources. For
instance, a quick look at the U.S. Department of Labor Women's
Bureau publication, "Handbook on Women Workers", provides an
excellent introduction to jobs aggregation, pay discrimination,
etc., and may be a good starting point before asking a student to
analyze the conditions at her placement. Or a business student
might be encouraged to read _Games_Mother_Never_Taught_You_ and then
to consider the adequacy of male metaphors (football, the military)
for her in relating to the corporate world, and to develop new
metaphors to suit her situation. When the student starts devising
her own exercises and analytic frame-works, it is a good sign that
the service learning experience has effectively heightened her
awareness of choices and implications she will continue to face as
a working woman.


The Loretto Heights Practicum appears to accomplish most for those
who have had some prior work experience and for the more mature,
self-motivated student. The discoveries of younger, previously
sheltered students are often more basic (jobs are sex-segregated)
and more emotionally wrenching (identification with rape victims).
The basic advantage of a small program is that individualized
programming can take these differences into account. The basic
disadvantage is that younger students, especially, have no exchange
with others dealing with a variety of feminist issues. The interns
are very much dependent on my quirks, community contacts, and on
the limits of my time, energy and creativity.

The practicum clearly impacts both the students and the larger
feminist community. Students gain knowledge of ways to develop and
apply skills in feminist contexts, and begin to imagine ways to
create new careers for themselves. Most of the placements are in
agencies, like Safe Houses, which did not exist ten years ago, and
which were created out of women's needs and energies. This is a
useful realization for career-panicked students. The student who
ran a sexuality workshop is now a counselor in an abortion clinic
and she runs some women's sexuality groups. So one impact of the
internship is the proliferation of feminist services in the long
run. For the agencies, the benefits are broader than receiving work
assistance; less tangibly, exposure to the concerns of a variety of
students, including those just encountering feminist awareness, is
an important input for the agency staff.

The placements provide a variety of learning possibilities, from
basic skills (communication, budgeting, advertising, etc.), to an
introduction to differences between feminist and sexist work
settings, to philosophies of feminist organization and
communication. Students may encounter new strategies for developing
their own support networks, develop new skills (rape counseling)
and begin to imagine ways to use skills for other women. Besides
educating students regarding feminist issues like battering and
credit and daycare, our biggest success appears to be helping
returning students transfer skills to the workworld and increasing
their self-confidence, introducing students to feminist agencies
and networks, and helping women who have worked primarily in the
health fields imagine new ways to use these skills within a women's
community. At Loretto Heights, I think our largest long-term impact
for women will be in the fields of nursing and the healing arts.
Students begin to question the medical hierarchy and to find ways
to transform it or to use skills differently within it. For
instance, one military nurse who graduated with a Women Studies
minor has developed a program for raped and battered women at her
current military base. As one colleague recently told me, "Your
practicum makes you into a Jenny Appleseed for the military." It is
not a goal I would have imagined for myself or for the program, but
it may be a significant achievement.


                        Nancy Schniedewind

The ability to apply feminist theory to personal and social change
efforts, and in turn to use that practical experience to evaluate
and recreate theory, is an important process goal for women's
studies students. A field-work course is an excellent context for
this learning to take place.

"Fieldwork in Women's Studies," an upper division, three credit
course,is required for women's studies majors, taken toward the end
of their program of study. This course, which usually enrolls from
6 to 8 students each semester, is also open to other upper-division
students who have had two women's studies courses. Students work in
a field placement for a minimum of six hours a week and must also
participate in a two hour seminar once every three weeks.

There are many ways to define service learning in women's studies.
At New Paltz, fieldwork is a three to six credit experience that is
one part of a student's full course load and is completed at a site
in commuting distance from campus. An internship is a 15-18 credit
experience that is, itself, a student's full course load, and is
often taken in another geographical area; this latter experience is
more intensive, and we recommend it for students who have already
taken fieldwork. My focus in this paper is on what we define as
fieldwork, which necessitates that students come together as a
group for a seminar every three weeks.

The overriding intent of "Fieldwork in Women's Studies" is to
provide students an opportunity to learn to integrate feminist
theory and practice, encouraging them to see their own potential to
foster change. The specific goals of the course are for students

     - Gain practical experience and skills by working in         
       feminist organizations and projects

     - Make a positive contribution to women's program or         
       activity in the community

     - Analyze various approaches for creating personal and social 

     - Develop skills for integrating theoretical knowledge and   
       practical experience to promote feminist goals

A series of "relevant questions" that reflect these goals are posed
on the syllabus at the beginning of the course. These provide a
framework for thinking, discussion, and journal entries as we
proceed through the course. They include: 

     - What are our goals for the feminist movement?

     - How do various projects we work with promote these, or     
       other, goals?

     - What are the approaches to change that women have and do   
       utilize? On what assumptions are these based?

     - How can theory instruct practice in the feminist movement? 
       In the organizations we work with? In our lives?

     - How do issues of class and race affect our theory and      
       action strategies?

     - How is personal change related to social change? How can the 
       two be synthesized most effectively?

     - How can we overcome feelings of helplessness and work      
       effectively and cooperatively for change?

Our focus on creating personal and social change through the
fieldwork experience has implications for the choice of placement.
It has been argued that women's studies students can do fieldwork
in any setting--from a major corporation to a fast food shop--and
learn to apply a feminist perspective to their experience. To a
degree, that is true. Nevertheless, we have a choice about the
total experience we-want our students to have. If our goals are to
use fieldwork to instruct students in the theory and practice of
catalyzing change for women, I believe it is important to place
students in organizations with similar goals--to the extent it is
possible in a given community--so that way the process and content
of what we are teaching is consistent with their work setting, and
their learning is therefore more powerful and integrated. Our
students have, and will have, many chances--for better or worse!-
-to work within institutions whose goals are to serve the status
quo. This is one opportunity for them to experience an alternative,
as part of an organization that advocates other values and visions.
Experiential knowledge of an alternative enables students to know
that such a reality is possible again for them in the future.

In addition, students are resources as well as learners. We must
ask ourselves where we want to direct our woman power and that of
our students. At New Paltz we have decided that it is into those
feminist and progressive organizations struggling for social
change. Usually these are organizations that have meager resources,
money, and personnel. In these settings students' energy can make
a significant difference to the group's effectiveness, and women's
studies continues to empower the women's movement that spawned it.

The theory/practice focus in the fieldwork course also has
implications for the nature of the co-seminar. Rather than teach
skills, the seminar is the arena in which we collectively attempt
to apply issues raised in the readings to field experiences. Since
most of the upper division students at New Paltz who take this
course have had solid skills, we have not faced the need for a
skills component. It is, however, very important that students have
job-related competencies before beginning a placement. These might
include: writing, speaking, public communication, interviewing,
data gathering, assertiveness with supervisor, role-taking ability,
and group skills. Should it be necessary to teach these
competencies, I'd propose a one credit modular course,
"Introduction to Fieldwork in Women's Studies," to meet the need.
Such a short-term, intensive course would prepare students for
their fieldwork and enable the co-seminar to focus more directly on

As students wish or need to, they see me independently concerning
their particular placement. I meet with the entire group of field
work students six times during the semester for two hours. The
requirements for the course include: (1) completion of all assigned
readings, (2) a detailed journal documenting learning from their
fieldwork and analysis of their reading; and (3) a final paper
describing learnings regarding the synthesis of theory and practice
to foster change. Their final grade is based on their self
evaluation, their supervisor's evaluation, and the quality of these
assignments. Through the course it is my aim that students become
active participants in a fieldwork experience, reflect upon it,
generalize about it, and apply the generalizations to the
experience to better understand it and/or change it. The seminar
provides the forum for reflection, conceptualization, and
discussion of application.

In the first co-seminar session, students get acquainted, describe
their fieldwork placement to each other, and discuss their
expectations for the semester. I share my expectations and
delineate the requirements for the course.

We begin all subsequent sessions with time for each student to
share an experience, excitement or a problem from her fieldwork
situation. Students learn more about others' projects, and get
support or problem solving strategies, as needed; I can identify
any students having difficulties, and arrange time for a follow-up
conference. While we spend no more than thirty minutes on this
process, it is valuable for sharing brainstorming solutions to
common--or not-so-common!--problems, renewing energy, and
validating the personal change students experience.

Sessions two and three, titled "Feminist Frameworks," are devoted
to analysis of various theoretical perspectives from which to view
woman's oppression and strategies for change. Students read
selections from "Feminist Frame-works: Alternative Theoretical
Accounts of the Relations between Women and Men" by Alison Jagger
and Paula Struhl, and `Anarchism: The Feminist Connection' by Peggy
Kornegger in "Reinventing Anarchy", edited by Howard and Carol
Ehrlich. We discuss liberal, Marxist, radical feminist, socialist
feminist, and anarchist-feminist theories. Concurrently, students
are making observations in their field settings and recording
responses to these questions in their journals:

      - What are the explicit and implicit goals of the           
        organization or project you work with?

      - How do their practices support or differ from their goals?

      - From what framework--or combination thereof--is your      
        organization working? How do you know?

      - What feminist framework(s) do you feel most reflects your 

In the seminar, we discuss not only the theoretical perspectives,
but also the way in which students applied these frameworks to the
reality of their fieldwork. We compare and contrast the modus
operandi and values of various groups. Students compare their
perspectives with each other, and to the organizations represented.

It is important to note that in talking about feminist frameworks
in relationship to field placements, I encourage a norm of
acceptance for every organization involved. We consistently affirm
the valuable work all do, and analyze practice from different
points of view. Sometimes these critiques are brought back to
students' placements to impact practice; students are encouraged to
share issues they're dealing with in the seminar with persons in
their placement. About one third of the students work with a
campus-based organization, like the birth control clinic, so there
are often opportunities for critical suggestions to be discussed
and implemented because students feel more power to foster change
in groups organized by peers. At all times, however, I expect
support and respect for all organizations.

Session four is titled "Theory in Action." Students read: "Toward
a Political Morality" by Barbara Ehrenreich; "The Reform Tool Kit"
by Charlotte Bunch; and "The Women of Williamsburg" by Carol
Brightman. We discuss how theory is put to work in feminist
projects. The focus for students' observations and journal entries
is Charlotte Bunch's discussion of non-reformist reforms. Bunch
describes a reform as any change that alters the condition of life
in a particular area, noting it can be conservative or
revolutionary. She defines reformism as a particular ideological
position--basically liberalism--and puts forth five criteria for
distinguishing a non-reformist reform. Students are asked to
examine their organizations with these criteria in mind. In the
seminar we discuss not only the content of these articles, but the
application of Bunch's thinking. We formulate specific ways
organizations could change, should they want to, to be more in tune
with those criteria. These questions enable students to carefully
examine their organizations, their impact and outcomes, and the
ways they're part of, or a challenge to, the status quo.

A student who worked in a birth control clinic made the following
journal entry, which I quote with her permission.

     The birth control clinic is being quite effective at what its
     goals are. I would hope that those who work for it, as well as
     other reform type organizations, will not merely stop at them
     and feel they have created the solutions. What I've learned
     from working for this type of agency is that to stop and
     "settle" for it is in a sense defeating a purpose of fighting
     for social change. This is not to say that those who work
     there are not making enormous contributions to society and
     women. I feel now I owe it to women and myself to struggle for
     social change that will hopefully some day eliminate the need
     for reform organizations to begin with--i.e., rape crisis
     centers and so on. I want to change the society that killed
     women who were used as guinea pigs to test the pill and the
     IUD, I want to change the society that doesn't bother to do
     any further research for more humane methods of birth control
     and expects women to be thankful for what methods they've

This student, a superb practitioner in the birth control clinic,
could affirm the significance of her project's work, and at the
same time increase her critical consciousness in light of the
theoretical issues raised.

The fifth session of the seminar focuses on class issues. Students
read "Class and Feminism" by Charlotte Bunch et al. They observe
and record issues about class as they relate to themselves and to
their placement.

     - What is the class background of the people you work with?  
       The people your project serves/empowers?

     - What class values are reflected in the goals and procedures 
       of the group?

     - How does your class background affect the way you view     
       yourself, women's oppression and strategies for social     

Given the way we're taught not to discuss class difference, this
session tends to be a very powerful learning experience. Students
have sometimes returned to their fieldwork settings to raise basic
issues generated in this session.

In the final session, "Social Equality: Visions, Goals and
Strategies," we discuss Marge Piercy's "Woman on the Edge of Time".
Students respond to these questions in their journals.

     - Describe the reality and the vision that Piercy presents.

     - Compare that to the reality of our society and the vision  
       of your field placement.

     - Compare Piercy's vision and yours.

This class, too, is powerful, because of the clarity and strength
of Piercy's writing. Students talk of their visions, and we share
what we've learned about strategies for social change. At this
session a final paper is due in which students detail what they've
learned from integrating theory and practice with an emphasis on
fostering personal and social change. Since these themes are fresh
in their thinking, discussion is often rich.

Throughout the semester students have: been part of a feminist
action project; reflected upon their experience in journals and
seminars; used writings of feminists as the basis for further
conceptualization; applied these theoretical views to their field
experience; suggested new action for themselves and their
organizations based on that process. By participating in a social
change effort, students change as individuals. They learn new
competencies, acknowledge skills they already had, and gain a sense
of personal power by working in a collective effort toward feminist
goals. The seminar reinforces this personal change with support and
constructive criticism: sharing their personal development in a
group setting, students feel their individual and collective
empowerment more deeply.

A student in my course made the following summary statement, which
I quote with her permission.

     I really must say that I've learned a great deal from this
     entire experience. I feel stronger about my own abilities now
     that I've proven to myself that I can do it. Therefore,I feel
     now I'm ready for a change...l finally realize that sitting
     back and merely intellectualizing about oppression in society
     is not enough and that only through action will things change.
     Now I'm willing and ready to devote my energies to doing that.
     I've gained through the course the courage as well as the
     realization to admit this, and to act upon it.

In reflecting on this model for a fieldwork course and seminar, I
see several developments that could reinforce its goals. In the
context of the course as described, I intend to have students work
in pairs or small groups in as many organizations as possible.
While this may cut down on the number of feminist projects we
connect with in a given semester, it will provide students a
built-in support group in which to discuss issues raised by the
experience: Further, it will give them a cooperative experience as
activists and reinforce the idea that it takes people working
together to effect change.

A second semester course, "Fieldwork in Women's Studies II" could
also be developed, to enable students to apply their learning from
the basic course more consistently and cooperatively. Students
would work together as a group to choose a receptive organization
to work with, or to define a problem affecting women in the
community. They would develop a theoretical framework for
addressing a problem in the context of that framework. For example,
if part of their working theory involved the negative influence of
class bias and racism on women's liberation, the group might work
with the local health care center to survey the effectiveness of
their services for low-income and minority women. If they found
areas for improvement, the group could cooperate with the health
center to develop strategies to try meet those needs. In this
second course they would even be more actively formulating theory
and applying it in praxis. The process of the working group itself
would be an equally important area for learning.

During the Women's Studies Service Learning Institute, Marti
Bombyk, another participant, made a distinction between feminist
consciousness and conscience: the former an awareness of women's
oppression which can then be limited to the quest for personal
liberation, the latter the combination of consciousness with
action, which seeks to empower women as a group. Surely a valid
goal for service learning in women's studies is the movement of
feminist consciousness toward conscience. It is my hope that this
description of a fieldwork course with a co-seminar that encourages
dialectical process has been helpful, and will catalyze us all to
renewed consciousness and conscience.


Brightman, Carol. "Women of Williamsburg," Working Papers for a New
	Society, Jan./Feb., 1978.

Bunch, Charlotte. "The Reform Tool Kit," Guest: A Feminist
	Quarterly, Vol. 1, 1974.
	(For a list of Bunch's five criteria for reform, see p. in this

Bunch, Charlotte, et al., "Class and Feminism". Baltimore: Diana
	Press, 1974.

Ehrenreich, Barbara. "Toward a Political Morality," Liberation
	Magazine, July/August, 1977.

Ehrlich, Howard, and Ehrlich, Carol, eds. Reinventing Anarchy.
	London and Boston: Routledge, Kegan, Paul, 1979.

Jagger, Alison, and Struhl, Paula. Feminist Frameworks:
	"Alternative Theoretical Accounts of the Relation between Women and
	Men". New York: McGraw Hill, 1978.

Piercy, Marge. "Woman on the Edge of Time". Greenwich, Conn.:
	Fawcett Books, 1976.

                   A COURSE IN WOMEN'S STUDIES

                          Melanie Kaye

(This essay was originally delivered as a talk to the annual
convention of the MLA in December 1977. It appeared in the "Women's
Studies Newsletter", Summer 1978, Vol. VI, No. 3, as "Feminist
Theory and Practice," and is reprinted by permission of The
Feminist Press.)

I want to talk about why we should include training in feminist
theory and practice in women's studies programs; and to describe
the sequence of courses designed at Portland State University to
provide this training, in particular the segment I teach called
Feminist Theory and Practice.

Let me begin by looking back to the origins of women's studies, in
the context of a burgeoning movement. Women's studies programs came
into being because of women's power to demand these programs.
Because women did demand these programs. Because in the turmoil of
the sixties and early seventies, campus administrators were under
pressure to make concessions, pressure which we had helped to
create and which we were astute enough to increase in various ways,
from writing polite letters to sitting in. Because even our polite
letters were backed by the existence of an activist movement and
the possibility of more militant action.

The existence of women's studies thus testifies to women's power.
This fact suggests one reason why we should provide women with
political training; like all sound political reasoning, it is at
least partly selfish. In the current economic crunch, women's
studies programs are in danger. If we don't help women to
articulate collective power, learn how and where to act, we will
not have women's power supporting women's studies. Feminist
activity made women's studies possible. Women's studies must in
turn help make feminist activity possible, if we are to survive as
women's studies teachers, or as teachers, for that matter (some of
us, like myself, have already been axed), or even as women.

But granted that political training is necessary, why should
women's studies provide it? Because inside and outside the
universities and colleges, opportunities for acquiring political
skills are hard to come by. Let me use my personal history, for I
think my experience fairly common. I learned about feminism and the
need for an autonomous women's movement through my participation, 
in other movements, especially the civil rights and antiwar
movements. Like many women with this background, I was a student in
the late sixties and early seventies, and my first feminist work
was directed toward the university. I was part of the women's
caucus (in comparative literature at the University of
California/Berkeley) that demanded a class and the choice of
instructor; and I was blessed with teaching that first class,
digging out books from my friends' collections, devouring the first
issues of "Female Studies" for titles. Looking back, I am
overwhelmed by the naivete and starvation of those early efforts.
I actually typed up a list for my class called "Books by Women"
that was less than a page long. All of this work--from the struggle
to get the class, to the creation of curriculum, to the
trial-and-error invention of new classroom structures--included
political training.

In that first class, politics was clearly part of the subject, and
would have been whether I wanted it there or not. Many of the
students also considered themselves part of the women's movement.
Literature and politics clasped hands as women defined the
parameters of common experience; or clashed noisily as women argued
their preference for Nin over Lessing, or Lessing over Nin. Some
wanted less politics, some wanted more; but everyone knew that what
we were doing was in fact political, slightly outside the law, and
precious. The explosive growth that was happening to so many of us
was happening in the context of a larger whole -a vital, ornery
women's liberation movement. Many of us were reading passionately
on our own time and in our nonacademic women's groups the feminist
theoretical writings which were just then appearing and which,
along with actual events, were urging us to new edges, new

              Looking for the Women's Movement

Now we see a different picture. The women's movement is fragmented
and under attack, still vital in some places (Portland being one),
but thriving in particular projects and counter institutions:
coffee houses, health clinics, rape hotlines, bookstores -and
women's studies programs. These projects tend to be highly specific
and task-oriented, rather than broadly political. Besides, having
been around for a while, they have tended to solidify into a
particular way of functioning, especially since the essential task
of maintaining them usually requires all available energy. They are
often not open to absorbing the energy of new women (which, barring
unusual coincidence, is bound to be different energy).

Moreover, the movement now has a history almost ten years long and
a body of theory. One problem the women's movement, like the Left,
has reeled under is our difficulty in learning from what has
happened before us, even a few years before us. Some knowledge of
the history and existing traditions of feminism should at least
make it possible for us to avoid rehashing the same issues, and to
ground ourselves in a common context.

In addition, many women now coming to college have never
experienced how movements can win victories. Even the women's
studies classes we meet them in are givens. Women students--
especially at an urban working-class public institution like
Portland State--bring a wealth of experience with them; and I am
sure all schools have felt the impact of returning women students.
But while consciousness of feminist issues has spread widely, a
sense of possible break-through, of modes of resistance and
activity, has not. "What can I do?" people say. Everything in this
society, from the threat of rape to having social security numbers
to unemployment to being put on hold, seems designed to make us
feel helpless; or, at best, we seek individual solutions. In a time
when there are not many places to learn how to think and act
politically, the need for women's studies to provide such training
becomes all the more pressing, especially since in many towns and
cities, women's studies is the most visible aspect of feminist
activity. Last spring about half the thirty women who enrolled in
my course on Feminist Theory and Practice were nonstudents. They
weren't looking for credits; they were looking for the women's

                    A Core Curriculum

At Portland State, an incremental unit has been developed to
provide training in feminist theory and practice, a core curriculum
which women's studies minors are urged to take whether their field
of concentration is biology or literature, structural engineering
or law. The curriculum begins with an introduction to women's
studies, oriented toward issues and designed to acquaint women with
the existing feminist activities and institutions in Portland.

The second course is an introduction to feminist theory, which
covers ovular second wave texts in such a way that women can not
only absorb the tradition(s), but also assess, evaluate, and
synthesize what seems useful and accurate. The third course on
theory and practice was invented to bridge the gap between the
theory course and the last course in the sequence, which is
practicum-fieldwork in a feminist institution or on a project for
women's use. Some favorite examples of practicum work include:
creating and maintaining a women's gallery; organizing a series of
women's readings in the gallery (both of which projects have the
double function of providing women makers with space to be seen and
heard, and giving women the chance to see and hear women's work -
and not incidentally support to become makers themselves); lobbying
in the Oregon State Legislature for legislation which forces the
police to arrest men who beat women, and which makes marital rape
a crime; writing a book on climbing for women and teaching a group
of women to climb; as well as working in such places at the women's
bookstore, women's resource center, or shelter for battered women,

                   The Germ of the Course

I'll focus now on the course I was asked to teach, since it's
especially odd. It was offered through the Department of
Philosophy, but in truth it seems to me outside academic
categories, nondisciplinary. In the sixties it would have been
called "Now That We Know What We Think, How Do We Figure Out What
To Do?" This practical emphasis separates it from most university
disciplines. And, infact, a problem I had with this course is that
there are almost no appropriate readings for it, a situation
reminiscent of those early days I was talking about. What we need
to read hasn't been written yet.

On the other hand, also reminiscent, I was forced to be inventive.
The Women's Studies Program asked me to design a course that would
connect theory with practice. I was first delighted, then stumped.
I knew what I did not want. I knew I did not want to spend time and
blood on sterile questions like, "Are men the enemy? Are lesbians
the vanguard? Can change happen within the system? Is armed
revolution essential?- Possible? What is the primary
contradiction?" etc. These questions have helped tear our movement
to pieces, yet no one knows the answers - because at this point in
our history, they're unanswerable. There are some theoretical
points we cannot move beyond because we don't have enough practice
yet to assess and understand the multifaceted and rapidly changing
reality we confront in the late seventies. Questions that seem more
useful--like "What do we need? How can we get it? What do we want?
How can we get it?"--these questions can be answered, if at all,
through problem-solving, trial and error: that is to say, through

But how could I teach that? Either I was the wrong person for the
course (a possibility I considered) or I had something to offer
besides books and the already named questions. One morning I was
circling around my brain trying to think up a course outline, and
I got hungry. I took out a loaf of bread and noticed that the label
said, "No preservatives added." This was not hippie 47,000-grain
bread, this was commercial supermarket bread. Now I am 32 years
old, and I remember that not very long ago "No preservatives added"
would not have been considered an asset. What pressures forced
Northridge Bread to leave out preservatives? And how interesting it
was that Northridge Bread had turned the ecology movement into a
selling point. Where upon I realized that I had the germ--at least
a germ--of the course.

So I constructed the course out of my thinking process, what I am
aware of in the world, trying to analyze how I problem-solve, how
I assess situations and figure out how to act and what is possible.
I defined the goal of the class as providing necessary skills to
attack the institution of helplessness. I also wanted the course to
arm women against some of the destructive phenomena I, along with
many women, had experienced working in the movement: guilt-tripping,
trashing, avoidance of conflict, alienation, ignoring differences
or exaggerating them.

Here are some things we did. I began on the first day by asking
women to note one way in which they felt different from everyone
else in the room, and to share that perceived difference. The point
was to learn our commonality: older, younger, mother, lesbian,
working-class, rural, married; and where the difference was
genuine--in the case of the one Asian woman, or the one instructor
and assumed power-center (me)--that difference got articulated
straight off.

I asked women to write their vision of an ideal future - if
everything were possible. The point was to tap our desires, to
think as big as possible, to loose the visionary component which
inspires and encourages political activity.I asked women to make a
list--this class was largely composed of lists--of five things
(books, people, ideas, movies, whatever) they thought of as
pseudo-feminist, and to justify their choices. Based on these lists
we tried to reach a consensus on what we meant by "feminist."

The next and probably most crucial step in the course, according to
student evaluations, was to appropriate the dialectical method. I
chose to include this component because for me learning to think
dialectically was a slow but dramatic break through confusion.
After a presentation on dialectics from a woman familiar with Hegel
and Marx, the assignment was for each student to analyze
dialectically a problem she was dealing with right at that moment.
We went over the problems in class, contradiction by contradiction:
problems like how much to let kids watch TV, men not sharing in
housework, raising boy children to be strong and non-oppressive to
women; many indecisions about living situations, jobs, and school.
Interestingly, several women resolved their selected problem
through this exercise. Problems about immediate choices were
particularly amenable to this approach. With others the blocks to
solution became apparent: as in how to raise boy children. The
point was not to work magic, an instant cure, but to teach an
approach that could incorporate the flux and crash of phenomena, a
way of seeing that was not static; moral, artificially
compartmentalized or polarized, but rather could apprehend
conflicting aspects as part of the same whole.It was a way of
figuring out what we can and cannot solve, and at what level--
internal, familial, communal, societal, global--solution is

We talked about consciousness, about what had made changes in our
consciousness possible, about the relationship between changing
consciousness and a changing world, how they make each other
possible or not, how we make them both possible and how they have
made/continue to make us. We dealt with the muddy hole into which
entire movements have fallen of explaining behavior that doesn't
make sense to movement participants as "coming from false
consciousness." Thus the Old Left has explained the racism that
keeps white workers from uniting with their Black working-class
brothers (sic) without asking what concrete privileges whites
obtain, regardless of class, from the institution of racism
(without, for that matter, questioning whether the white working
class is any more racist than the white middle class).

In the women's movement, "false consciousness" mostly comes dressed
as "role conditioning." We've all read about it in `Ms.', not to
mention a fair amount of what is being written under the rubric of
feminist scholarship. Thus women's consumption habits--or makeup,
or clothing which seems degrading to the "liberated" woman with her
"true" consciousness (i.e. the woman who has dispelled her
conditioning), or female opposition to the ERA--get written off.
(This idea has been with me for years, but I think its source was
Ellen Willis' article on "Women and Consumerism," one of the best
examples of the Redstockings' analysis. The fullest critique of the
"role conditioning" approach can be found in "Feminist Revolution"
by the Redstockings women, now available from Random House for
(alas) $6.00.) What gets left out of this analysis is the real
pleasure we get from exercising our limited power to choose among
products; the fact that women who dress to appeal to men may be
surviving rather than backward; or that women feel sensibly
threatened by the idea of losing some of the scanty protection we

        Changes You Have Seen, Changes You Want to Make      

We made more lists. Fifty changes you have seen in your own
lifetime (a spinoff from Northridge Bread). Fifty, a large number,
so that no one would spend time puzzling over which changes were
most important: any fifty. The point here was to sensitize
ourselves to the astonishing flux we live through and with, in
order to counter our sense of immutability, and especially our
sense that social movements do not, for example, help stop wars in
Viet Nam, or force bakeries to put out a "health" line. We focused
on a few changes. How did they come about? What has happened/could
have happened/could still happen from them?

Another list, this time of changes you want to make in your life:
any ten. Divide into changes you can make by yourself; changes you
can make with one other-friend, lover, child, therapist; changes
you need a group for. Pick one change that requires a group. Define
the group. Make a plan. List the pre-requisites for each step of
the plan. What keeps you from making the change?

Some other topics, briefly: some dealt with, some touched on, some
passed over because as usual there was not enough time: feelings
and experiences about working in groups, masses, individualism vs.
individuality; rigid rules of conduct, guilt vs. responsibility;
contemporary theories of social change; spotting political
assumptions; survival - your work and its relationship to your
politics, where you can work for change in your present or future
job; process vs. product; self-activity (the politics of fun).

So much for the academic quarter. During the assignment on "changes
you want," every woman in the class had listed "stopping rape," a
striking commonality. A smaller core of women from the class has
continued to meet as an action group--again reminiscent of early
women's studies--and this fall helped plan a wonderful anti-rape
event, the Women's Night Watch, in which two hundred women marched
in the rain to reclaim the night. The Night Watch was an energy
boost, the effects of which are still being felt. Activity
generates awareness generates more activity. Night Watch helped
create a climate of activism about violence against women. And
Night Watch happened in part because of the focus provided by this

I don't take credit for this. The women in the class were
remarkable -although one suspects that most women are remarkable
when they get the chance to be. And clearly fighting rape and other
violence against women is an idea whose time has come. Nor am I
offering a six-month plan to revitalize the movement. I simply mean
to suggest the possibilities of encouraging women to think
seriously about change as something we can make, and to experiment
with various forms of group activity.

Now you may be wondering what this has to do with you. My
experience with teaching and with political organizing tells me
that these are basically similar activities. The task: to create a
situation in which people can mobilize their own energy, in which
people use their experience and the materials on hand to make
something new. The function: to clarify, offer options, supply
information. The goal: to make oneself ultimately unnecessary to
the group. The approach: highly empirical, allowing ourselves and
our students to risk failure. I know women who teach women's
studies who have said to me, "But I know something about literature
(or psychology, or history). I don't know enough about politics."
It is true that in the women's communities of many towns and cities
there are competent women who could teach political theory and
practice on a wage-section basis (which is how I teach). But I also
want to suggest that women who have been part of the struggle for
and development of women's studies, who have experimented with
different kinds of classroom structures, studied the process of
group dynamics and power, discovered new materials and disciplines
and combined old materials and disciplines in new ways - women who
have done these things have learned a great deal about feminist
theory and practice. One of our tasks now should be to teach women
what women's studies and the women's liberation movement have
taught us.


                      Laura Polla Scanlon

(Acknowledged are the efforts of Terry Haywoode and Connie Noschese
who contributed to portions of this essay.)

There is a real need for locally-based higher education
opportunities for women who are limited by the demands of family,
work and community responsibilities. The impersonal and
bureaucratic nature of many large institutions makes them
culturally inaccessible to many neighborhood people.

Ridgewood-Bushwick, Williamsburg-Greenpoint and Carroll Gardens are
multi-ethnic, working class communities in Brooklyn, New York,
fighting to survive as viable neighborhoods. They need strong,
articulate grassroots leaders who are able to understand and deal
with both local issues and the broader social realities which they
reflect. Higher education for leadership requires both a strong
liberal arts base and specific training for confidence and skills.

The National Congress of Neighborhood Women (NCNW) has developed a
two year Associate in Arts degree program to provide locally-based
access to higher education for community women in these low and
moderate income neighborhoods. Designed primarily for adult women
who are neighborhood leaders, the program curriculum focuses on
neighborhood issues and concerns in the context of traditional
liberal arts courses. Leadership development is emphasized, both in
course work and in the process of shared decision-making,
advocacy-counseling and peer support through which the program is
administered; NCNW's curriculum combines aspects of ethnic studies,
women's studies, labor history and community dynamics into an
integrated course of study directly related to students' lives.

The project is staffed by a combination of professional educators,
neighborhood women, students and alumnae of the program plus other
volunteers, with neighborhood women taking on an increasing share
of the responsibility for both administrative and educational
policy and implementation. It is a goal of the program to have it
run mainly by its constituents and to maintain a working
relationship between professional and neighborhood women. Students,
staff and faculty collaborate in curriculum development; regular
academic liberal arts courses have an experiential or practical
base, generating services, information and products to enhance the
life of the person, the family and the neighborhood. It is this
last feature, NCNW's experiential base, that this essay will

One of our original principles was that, since empowerment of women
was the primary goal of the Congress, the students should
participate as fully as possible in the design and implementation
of their learning program. Thus, one component of the program was
serving on the committees that constituted, alongwith the staff,
the decision-making mechanisms for the congress. It should be noted
that this NCNW program is co-sponsored by LaGuardia Community
College of the City University of New York. Curriculum and faculty
are traditionally the province of the academic community and, in
fact, the college makes final decisions according to its
institutional mandate; student participation in this aspect of
their own program design provides a unique opportunity for them to
learn how to communicate with college faculty and administrators as
peers. This is a valuable kind of learning experience, particularly
for working-class and poor people who tend to be mystified by the
processes and rationales of institutional decision-making. Working
to keep the college program going continues to be a source of solid
learning and empowerment for students.

Another principle was that the rich life experiences of adult
students could provide a practical basis for theoretical learning
on several levels--that of the individual woman's personal, perhaps
private, relation to the world, her relationship to her family, and
her relationship to the larger community. As we developed
curricula, we explored those aspects of women's individual lives
for practical and theoretical links. In most cases these links were
to be found in all three aspects of the students' lives: personal,
family and community. Our process was to work with faculty to
develop courses combining theory and practice, incorporating
women's experiences and concerns.

For many students, learning creative expression was important. Art
and creative writing courses, inherently experiential, have proved
extremely successful. The service component of these courses
ensures that art work is shared with the community. Visual art is
exhibited at banks, for example, and writing is contributed to
local newspapers, the student newsletter, and local radio programs.

It is interesting to note that for the NCNW students the world of
work is not necessarily where they lack experience. Rather, it is
the world of their own creative expression. For example, students
in a media arts class produced a half-hour video-tape about the
college program, showing changes women and their families had
experienced as a result of their going back to school. The students
had to master video technology; they also had to learn and apply
interviewing techniques and other communication skills. This
experiential learning was balanced by theoretical discussions about
communications and media.

Family relationships and women's role in the family have been a
good source for melding theory and practice. Students in a labor
and immigration course produced fascinating family histories as
their term projects. In another course public schools' values and
general attitudes of the staff were contrasted with observations of
children and interviews with teachers and children. Students saw
this research as work which added a more sophisticated dimension to
their roles as family women.

Often students elect to do research which has some specific value
to them. One woman who was trying to decide which of two schools to
send her child to, became an action researcher, interviewed
parents, teachers, staff as part of her college work for a course
in Social Change and Community Development. Another student, mother
of a disabled son, developed recommendations on how the school
system could better serve the needs of children with similar
handicaps. Another, frustrated by the maze of financial aid forms
confronting college students, did an analysis of the socioeconomic
context of financial aid and prepared a manual for sister students
and their college-age children. Looking toward completing her
Associate in Arts degree, one student began organizing community
women and negotiating with colleges for a Bachelor of Arts program.
In these instances, the specific courses must determine the
emphasis--a communications course will emphasize style and form,
while a social science course might emphasize methodology or
research design. Still, experiential learning is the common base.

Because development of women's leadership skills and improvement of
community life is a goal of the program, students are provided with
many opportunities to use the neighborhood as their laboratory.

Sometimes these take the form of internships. For a cooperative
education course, students engaged in community work in areas that
were new to them, serving, e.g., in a day care center, senior
citizens' center, or a program organizing activities for youth. In
other cases, students already active in neighborhood activities
expanded or altered the scope of their volunteer work into a new
experience, requiring mastery of skills such as speech-making,
proposal writing or working more sensitively with people. Learning
took place in the context of meeting actual neighborhood needs,
from the service internships mentioned above to more unusual
projects. One student provided a cultural event for the
neighborhood by producing and directing a play written by a
neighborhood resident and set in her community. Another developed
a presentation about breast feeding; her internship involved making
this presentation to local women's groups and to school parents'

In a course in leadership and community control, students assessed
pressing community needs and, working in groups, gathered data
around specific issues. They then used this data to develop a
program and write a proposal about the needs of youth to be
funneled through the local planning board. Other proposals covered
issues like, "Wheels for Senior Citizens," and "Scholarships for

Community pride was enhanced, and useful information generated,
when students researched neighborhood history. One project showed
immigration patterns in the neighborhood, its evolving architecture
and the contemporary effects of gentrification, calling attention
to serious contemporary community problems. This particular history
was presented by students at a city-wide neighborhood history
conference. Other projects based on historical research dealt with
the history of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and its effect on
neighborhood life.

While all of the courses have some experiential component, a unique
pilot program was the Williams-Greenpoint colloquium which tested
and synthesized the experiential goals of the college. For this
experimental project students put aside theory to participate
wholly in the hands-on aspect of their learning. Five workshops
were formed, led by a mentor: law, health, oral history, creative
writing and video techniques.

The law and health groups assessed neighborhood legal and health
services from a woman's perspective and designed alternative
structures for delivering these services, structures more tuned to
people's real needs rather than bureaucratic social service
restrictions. The creative writing group shared their experiences
in poems and stories. The oral history group researched family and
neighborhood history and wrote up their findings. During the two
quarters the video group mastered video technology. At the end of
the 6-credit, two quarter sequence, a neighborhood history fair was
held where women shared their work with community residents while
the video team recorded the event. At this point in their college
program the students were ready to take what they had learned in
their theoretical courses and engage in totally experiential
learning as neighborhood advocates. 

At NCNW we believe that true participation in community life and in
the process of planning for the future of neighborhoods has become
increasingly difficult and demanding. Our research has indicated
that neighborhood women all over the United States want an
opportunity for higher education that will enrich and empower them
as individuals and as community leaders. Our program is designed to
meet these needs. The accomplishments of our alumnae are eloquent
testimony both to the need for this type of experiential program
and for its effectiveness in providing accessible higher education
for community women.


                           Sharon Rubin

(Information in this paper was originally developed for a
presentation at the National Society for Internships and
Experiential Education annual meeting, 1979. The author wishes to
thank Beverly Greenfeig and Barbara Goldberg of the Returning
Students Program, University of Maryland, who participated in the
original research.)

     Volunteer Opportunity: Staff representative trainee with local
     council of union representing employees in six federal
     agencies. Opportunity to be involved in all phases of running
     a union, including organizing, research, arbitration and
     grievance investigation, congressional hearing attendance.
     Prefer student in personnel/labor relations, economics, or
     government and politics, but willing to consider others.

     Paid Internship: $8.00 per hour to organize and help conserve
     a collection of documents relating to the first woman
     president of a large retail corporation. Students in the
     fields of women's history, cultural history, and business
     especially encouraged to apply.

     Cooperative Education Placement: Full-time paid positions fall
     semester with large federal agency in areas of administration,
     economics, accounting, chemistry, or computer science.
     Opportunities for permanent employment after graduation.

At the University of Maryland College Park, the Office of
Experiential Learning Programs coordinates about 1300 volunteer
activities, internships for credit, and cooperative education
placements like the ones above. Such opportunities provide an
alternative to classroom learning, help students see the ways in
which theories have practical applications, and offer low-risk
career testing. Over 300 students a semester register for the
special internship course numbers available for use by faculty
members in any department, and over 500 register for special
departmental internship courses as well.

Women's studies students generally obtain field placements through
our office or through listings that go directly from organizations
to the Women's Studies Program office. While some returning women
students major in women's studies and participate in women's
studies internships, most returning students pursue traditional
majors and seek field experience within those majors.

Over the past several years, our staff and staff members of the
Returning Students Program have become aware that few returning
women, of about 1900 on campus, seem to take advantage of field
experience opportunities, or even to use the Experiential Learning
Programs office as an information resource. In order to determine
why a group supposedly more aware than typical eighteen-year-olds
of the relationship of education to work and of theory to practice
seem so hesitant to participate in a program emphasizing these
linkages, we questioned returning and college-age students by
questionnaire and informally, we analyzed enrollment data, and we
consulted our counterparts on other campuses. What we learned is
worth sharing not because it provides easy answers but because it
emphasizes the need for those involved with returning women
students to ask more sophisticated questions.

To find out whether our experiences were comparable to those of
experiential educators on other campuses, we developed a
questionnaire (Appendix A), which we hoped would distinguish
between male and female college-age and returning students and
their needs and practices, and which would help enumerate ways of
interesting returning women in field experience. The questionnaires
were sent to 238 internship coordinators, field experience offices,
cooperative education directors, and others involved in
experiential learning. The return rate, 21%, was disappointing, but
the results of the meager return were illuminating.

The level of response and the type of response made us aware that
many of our hypotheses were questionable. For instance, we assumed
that most internship coordinators could provide statistics on age
and sex of interns. Nineteen respondents noted that they do not
keep any statistics on the sex or age of student interns, and some
even replied that they do not keep any statistics at all on
students doing field experience. Ten respondents noted that there
were very few returning students at their colleges, but
twenty-three returned some information. Of the twenty-three,
approximately a third felt that returning students participate in
field experience more than traditional college-age students, about
a third felt that they participate equally, and about a third
suggested that they participate less than college-age students.
Almost all respondents admitted that their beliefs were based on
anecdotal information and impressions. For instance, one respondent
commented that women participate less because they are "charged
with rearing children." Another commented that returning students
participate more because they have stronger feelings of who they
are and where they belong.

Another of our hypotheses was that most colleges provide a
returning students program like the one on our campus, which
includes one-to-one counseling by peer advisors, workshops on a
range of subjects from time management to examination skills, and
a "College Aims for Returning Women" course which emphasizes career
planning, reading and study skills, and multiple role management.
Only 18% of the respondents mentioned special programs, ranging
from a special advising office to continuing education for
displaced homemakers.

Our third assumption was that there would be a number of special
programs to encourage returning women to participate in
internships. Only 20% mentioned any special efforts, mainly
orientations or brochures.

Finally, we assumed that most administrators who deal with
internships, volunteer service-learning, or cooperative education
would be aware of the need to think about the special requirements
of returning women. However, several coordinators noted, "I've
never thought about this before." It seems likely that as
experiential educators become more oriented to seeking out and
encouraging diverse populations of students rather than serving
those who happen to walk in the door, their understanding of
returning women and their characteristics will become even more
crucial. The less/same as/more split in the perceptions of those
who do deal with returning students illustrates this clearly. The
"returning woman" is no more certainly a homogeneous category than
the "black student" or the "handicapped student." Internship
coordinators must ask, "Who are our returning women students, and
what do they need?"

In an attempt to answer that question for our campus, we first
analyzed enrollment data provided by our Data Research Center. The
campus is fortunate to have good records and a research unit to
make them available to campus offices. The data we collected are
for one representative semester, but similar figures exist for

Of 29,500 undergraduates, 53% are male, 47% are female. In the
returning student population, the percentages are just about
reversed, with 48% male and 52% female. Despite such reasonably
equal percentages of adult learners, returning women are
considerably more visible on campus, perhaps because of media
attention or because of special campus events for them. Another
explanation may be that at College Park, 60% of male returning
students are between 26 and 29, while only 35% of returning women
are below the age of 30. Understandably, there are slightly more
juniors and seniors among the returning student population than
among the general college population.

Because of the many different options for experiential learning--
campus-wide internship options, departmental internships for
majors, practica, fieldwork, and field laboratories, both optional
and mandatory--and because volunteer service/learning is not
recorded by the registrar at all, it is difficult to accurately
assess the number of students involved in experiential learning.
However, statistics on both the campus-wide internship courses and
on departmental internship courses seem to indicate two things:
returning students participate in experiential learning about 25%
less than traditional college-age students, and very few returning
students do internships before senior year.

We questioned students both informally and formally about their
views of experiential learning. Most returning women warmly
embraced the concept of experiential learning and mentioned that
their past experiences had persuaded them of the value of doing
additional field work. However, in the "College Aims" course for
returning women, our discussions often elicited a set of responses
that can best be characterized by the description, "But I'm Not An
Expert!" Students, who were mainly in their first semester back in
college, were dubious about why anyone would want to offer them an
internship or other placement. Over and over, in many different
ways, we heard women say, "I'll practice when I'm good enough."
Instead of considering experience as a method of learning, they
considered experience as practice to perfect knowledge obtained
through classes. When our staff explained that organizations were
well aware that they were getting motivated but amateur workers,
the women refused to see themselves as learner/workers. Perhaps
they feared that the expectations of a supervisor would be
different when working with an adult student, or perhaps they had
grown used to devaluing their own competence. In any case, they
continued to express enthusiasm about doing internships sometime in
the future when they would feel prepared. 

The formal questionnaire (Appendix B) did not elicit exactly the
same response. 42% of the returning students indicated a
willingness to consider participating in field experience
immediately or the next semester, while only 30% of the traditional
college-age students did. However, returning students did indicate
more concern with having enough expertise and confidence than did
college-age students. In answering the question, "If I have not and
do not plan to participate in field experience, it is
because ______," returning students chose the following answers most
frequently: "I don't have any information about field experience,"
"I have never thought about it," "I don't know how to get started,"
and "I need a job that pays well ," closely followed by, "I don't
have enough knowledge and skills in any particular area," "I don't
know anyone who has done it," "I don't have any contacts to help
me," and "I don't have the time." The answers that we expected to
be prevalent, "I need a job that pays well, and "I don't have
enough time," were no more popular than any of their other concerns
or than those concerns among college-age students .

We have no explanation for the discrepancy between the information
we received in questionnaires and the information we received by
talking with students. However, we did note a high degree of
anxiety in returning women who were worried about giving the
"right" answer, and that may have led some to respond in a positive
way to what they thought we expected. Also, because some of those
answering questionnaires were seniors, they did feel more positive
about their participation in experiential learning.

As I often ask students, what do we know now that we know this? Our
research has helped us recognize that returning students as a group
are more heterogeneous than we assumed, although on our campus they
are, as a group, considerably older than returning male students.
We discovered that returning students who have "been around"
through volunteer work and paid employment still recognize the
value of field experience for themselves in a number of ways, and
do not intend to let past experience suffice. We realized that
while many students responded positively to a question about intent
to immediately participate in field experience, virtually all of
them wait until senior year to participate. Finally, we found that
although time and money are concerns for returning women, their
participation or lack of it depends on a much broader and more
complex set of variables, including self-concept .

It seems likely, from what we have learned, that our present
sponsorship of workshops in conjunction with the "College Aims"
course and presentations to the University Returning Students
Association are insufficient. We are considering a number of
alternatives that might substantially improve our services to
returning students. First, we plan to train peer advisors in the
Returning Students Program so that they are aware of student
uncertainties about experiential learning and can learn techniques
for effective counseling. Second, we might develop a "road show"
which uses returning students who have done internships to answer
the concerns of returning women about learner/worker roles.
Finally, we might, in the long range, use the University of
Kentucky's Project Ahead as a model (1). Project Ahead combines a
one-semester paid internship (with business, government, or the
non-profit sector) with academic credit, a leadership and career
planning seminar, individualized assistance, ongoing support from
other interns, and interaction with community and business leaders.
Such a combination of approaches would make good sense developmentally 
as well as educationally.

Whatever our choices, our goals will be to answer the questions of
returning women about what field experience is and how to
participate, to address returning women on the variety of issues we
now know concern them, and to provide programming to move them from
the point of intending to participate to using field experience as
an alternative style of learning throughout college. By attempting
to reach these goals, we will not only serve returning women more
effectively but we will, in turn, be learning to serve all our
students with more knowledge and consciousness of their needs.


Project Ahead, a University of Kentucky internship program, is
designed primarily for women over 25 who have been out of the
educational and employment mainstream for several years before
returning to college. The program, supported by the Fund for
Improvement of Postsecondary Education and administered by the
Office for Experiential Education, provides individualized
assistance to women in making the transition from education to
work. Further information can be obtained from Project Ahead, Ligon
House, 658 South Limestone St., University of Kentucky, Lexington,
Kentucky 40506.

                       Appendix A

COLLEGE___________________________________TWO OR FOUR YEAR_________
DEFINITIONS: For purposes of this questionnaire, a returning
student is over 24 years of age and either did not enroll as a
college student immediately after high school or did so and dropped
out for at least one year before returning to college. Field
experience is an off-campus learning experience that is usually
unpaid and credited but that may be paid and/or non-credit, as, for
example, in the case of cooperative education.

1. What is your male undergraduate enrollment?_____________________
   What is your female undergraduate enrollment?___________________

2. What is your male returning student enrollment?_________________
   What is your female returning student enrollment?_______________

3. What percentage of male returning students attend full-time?_____
   What percentage of female returning students attend full-time?___

4. How many students in all participate in field experience each  
   Males_____________     Females_________________

5. Do returning male students participate less/as much as/more than 
   traditional college age males in field experience?___________________
   Do they participate less/as much as/more than college age      
   Do returning student females participate less/as much as/more  
   than traditional college age females in field experience?____________
   Do they participate less/as much as/more than college age males?_____

6. Do returning male students seem to be particularly interested in 
   a specific type of field experience? If so, please describe:

   Do returning female students seem to be particularly interested 
   in a specific type of field experience? If so, please describe:

7. Do you have statistics to support your answers to questions 4, 
   5, and 6? If so, please attach. If not, what is the source of  
   your information?

8. Do you have any possible explanations or suggestions about your 
   answers to questions 5 and 6?

9. Does your school have any special program for returning        
   students? If so, please describe:

10. Does your school have a clearing house or special office that 
    coordinates field experience? Yes___ No___. If no, is it      
    handled by departments? Yes___ No___. If no, how is it        
    coordinated? Please describe:

11. Does your school or office make any special effort to interest 
    returning students in field experience? Yes____No____ through 

12. Is there anything you'd like to share about returning students 
    and their use of field experience?

                         Appendix B

We are attempting to find out what students know about field
experience, how they feel about it, and how they make use of it, in
order to improve our service to you.

Please take a few minutes to fill out all four sides of the
following questionnaire.

Check as many choices in each item as you wish.

If you are not sure about some choices, please do not worry; just
do the best you can.

1. What is field experience?
   ___Practical work experience in my major
   ___Internship or practicum for credit
   ___Laboratory accompanying a course
   ___Visits to work sites
   ___Clinical training
   ___Extra-curricular activities such as student organizations or 
   ___Career exploration
   ___Teaching assistantship
   ___Experience related to agriculture or farming
   ___Requirement for my major
   ___Learning by doing
   ___Credit for prior work experience
   ___Cooperative education
   ___Any class on the College Park campus

2. I have participated in field experience:
   ___Three or more times

3. I participated in field experience by:
   ___Registering for 386 and 387
   ___Registering for another course (please describe)____________________
   ___Taking a cooperative education position
   ___Other (please describe)_____________________________________________

4. I would consider participating in field experience:
   ___This semester
   ___Next semester
   ___Sometime in the future
   ___After I graduate
   ___Not sure

5. I have chosen the response referred to in Question 4 because:  
   ___I'll have more time
   ___I'll have more expertise
   ___I'll have more confidence
   ___I'll have a better sense of what I want to do
   ___I'll have a lighter class load or I will have met my major  
   ___I'll be ready
   ___Other (please describe)___________________________________


6. If I have not and do not plan to participate in field          
   experience, it is because:
   ___I don't have the time
   ___I don't want to use credits on field experience
   ___I don't have enough knowledge or skills in any particular   
   ___I don't know how to get started
   ___I have heard it is difficult to find a faculty member to    
      sponsor my credit
   ___I have heard it is difficult to find an organization that   
      wants students
   ___I have heard it is difficult to register
   ___I need a job that pays well
   ___I don't know anybody who has done it
   ___I don't have any contacts to help me pursue a field         
   ___I don't have any information about field experience
   ___I have never thought about it
   ___Other (please describe)____________________________________

Whatever your answers to the previous questions about your
participation, please answer the following questions about whether
or not field experience is valuable to you:

7. Field experience is valuable to me because:
   ___It will look good on my resume
   ___It relates theory to practice
   ___It's a good way to try out a field of interest
   ___It helps me make up my mind about a major
   ___It helps me get out of the classroom
   ___It's good to have experience in my field
   ___It allows me to meet people in my field
   ___I can get credit for the experience I'm having
   ___It makes me aware of the different ways people learn
   ___It helps me organize my time
   ___It increases my confidence in my ability to work
   ___It improves the way I work with others
   ___It expands my world view
   ___It makes me more competent in my profession
   ___It teaches me about the concerns of the work world
   ___It adds meaning to my classroom experience
   ___It expands my vocabulary
   ___Other (please describe)__________________________________

8. Field experience is not valuable to me because:
   ___It takes too much time
   ___It is no help to me in getting a job
   ___Credit for classroom learning is more legitimate
   ___Employers don't care about student work experience
   ___It's not a good way to learn
   ___It doesn't pay a salary
   ___I don't plan to seek employment
   ___Other (please describe)__________________________________

9. My status is:
   ___Special student
   ___Graduate student

10. I have been a student at the College Park campus for:
   ___one semester or less
   ___two semesters
   ___three semesters
   ___four or more semesters

11. My major is:
   ___list major_______________

12. My age is:
   ___below 18
   ___over 40

If you would like the results of this questionnaire, or more
information about field experience, please fill in the following:


_______________________________________________Zip Code____________

Or, stop by Experiential Learning Programs, 0119 Undergraduate
Library, 454-4767.

Thank you for your help!

                       ON WOMEN AND PUBLIC POLICY

                            Phyllis M. Palmer

In September, 1980, a research task force of eleven graduate
interns began work for the Congresswomen's Caucus: sponsored by
women members of Congress, placed in offices and on committee
staffs under their aegis members and that of their male
Congressional allies, and supervised academically by the Women's
Studies Program and Policy Center at the George Washington
University. The Congressional Internships on Women and Public
Policy are funded by a grant to the Women's Studies Program from
the Charles H. Revson Foundation. Each legislative intern receives
a stipend of $8,000.00 for the academic year.

This legislative internship program is the culmination of a
three-year discussion about the structure and goals of GWU's
graduate program in women's studies.

When I came to Washington, D. C., to become academic coordinator of
the program in 1977, intent on applying theories and ideas
developed teaching women's history at Mount Holyoke College, I very
quickly learned I was ignorant about contemporary women's political
efforts and that I was naive about the world of lobbying, trading
legislative favors, tracking federal legislation through adoption
and appropriation processes, and commenting on the administrative
regulations needed to implement legislation.

My need for practical knowledge of federal policy making was
highlighted by contrast with the political expertise of two
colleagues who had also just joined the program, hopeful of
developing an academic base there for women's movement activists.
Virginia Allan, a former chair of the 1970 President's Commission
on the Status of Women and advocate for the National Women's
Conference in Houston, wanted to see academic work that was
pertinent to the lobbying efforts and publicity needs of women's
groups; Charlotte Conable, an alumna of the Women's Studies Program
and wife of an influential Republican Congressman, sought to make
the academic program more responsive to the political issues she
saw raised in Congress. As we three discussed skills women need to
function effectively as lobbyists, office-holders and political
activists, I began to see how thoroughly academic feminists can
avoid issues of power and legislative persuasion, and how
completely activists can ignore feminist research and theory.

Another impetus to the shaping of our legislative internship
program was the need of a graduate program in women's studies to
provide professional skills and competencies that would be
recognized by potential employers of our graduates. The GWU Program
had been giving academic credit for 1OO-hour a semester internships
(practica) since its inception in 1973, with students placed in a
variety of settings serving women. The record of alumnae employment
indicated that most students found post-graduation jobs through the
internship placement: the internship allowed students to do a
project pertinent to the needs of a sponsoring organization, and
thus to demonstrate the practical adaptability of training in
women's studies. Internships also made students a known quantity,
persons recognized as reliable by those who might offer jobs in the
future; students were assured that they would know and be known by
some employers. Given our location in Washington, and our interest
in training students who could be effective advocates and analysts
of federal policies, the idea of placing interns in legislative
offices in a structured fashion was a natural outgrowth of previous
internship activities.

A final concern, and one that became most salient in our subsequent
planning, was the provision of financial assistance to students for
the period of their internship.

In order to have an integrated training program that allowed
substantial time to learn the legislative process and to critique
and analyze its results, more than the 100 hours per semester
allotted to the practicum course would be required. Graduate
students, many of whom support themselves and children, could not
take a prolonged internship away from their half- and full-time
jobs. Both the responsibilities of our adult students and the
intellectual requirements of integrating academic and political
work necessitated finding financial support for interns.

Further, it seemed to me, Women's Studies could never produce
theoretically sophisticated and politically astute graduates until
we could provide students with time and freedom to think leisurely
and systematically. We may not be able to give women a life-time
annuity, as Virginia Woolf had advocated, but we might be able to
give them a one-year stipend.

The desire for funding led us into a series of negotiations with
various institutions and between various institutional interests.
We had to locate potential funding sources; we had to find a
non-partisan medium through which to guarantee that funders were
not directly supporting partisan legislators, and we had to assure
the sponsoring university that its students would be doing work
deserving academic credit.

Fortunately, the Congresswomen's Caucus, the coalition of women
members of Congress, had just created a non-profit research entity,
the Women's Research and Education Institute (WREI). The Institute
was looking for research assistance for itself and for the women
members. Together, we began to negotiate with the women members to
determine how we could place students in congressional offices
under the joint auspices of the Women's Studies Program and the
Institute, and how we could provide guarantees that the students
would develop research useful to the Congresswomen without, at the
same time, becoming involved with partisan, political election

The Congresswomen's Caucus proved amenable to our needs. It agreed
to provide office space and supervision for students, who would not
be expected to do political campaign work, but would be expected to
organize their research around the substantive interests and
legislative concerns of the office. The students' function would be
to enhance the members' and committees' knowledge about women's
issues, to be a "surplus benefit" to the office, rather than just
extra staff. They were to work at least 30 hours per week, since
any smaller commitment could not reimburse the office for the space
and supervisory time it was contributing. Even the Caucus,
established in 1977, suffers the classic women's group problem:
little money and shortage of staff. With only 17 women in that
Congress, their resources had to be used for constituent interests
as well as in support of research and action on women's issues.

Once we had agreed on the form of congressional placements, we
turned to the university's interests. The pertinent administrators
set two requirements to ensure that students would not be
performing partisan work and that they would deserve academic
credit for the work performed: all students accepted into the
internship had to be degree candidates, and their work had to be
evaluated by an interdisciplinary committee able to review an array
of projects and topics. The guarantor for academic merit became the
Women's Studies Steering Committee, and I was given released time
to meet with students in a weekly seminar.

With all these negotiations completed, we went back to our
potential funders, mainly larger foundations. Our primary funder
became the Charles H. Revson Foundation, whose president, Eli N.
Evans, a former program officer at the Carnegie Foundation, had had
a great deal of experience with intern and student development
projects for Southern Blacks during the 1960's and early '70's.

Evans had persuaded the Revson board to adopt, as one of its
principal goals, the development of women in leadership roles, and
he helped us conceptualize more clearly the goals of our
internship: to develop a "hybrid" who could move comfortably and
confidently between the research and legislative realms, and to
encourage women to think systematically as they are acting in
legislative arenas. Evans also encouraged us to think about the
internships a long-term project. With initial funding from Revson
to support us through academic year 1982-83, we anticipate that we
will be able to build a reputation for solid work; the benefits of
the program thus demonstrated, we should be better able to attract
small chunks of support from corporate donors and foundations that
have shown willingness to support training programs for women but
are unlikely to make the large commitment necessary to start and
test a major program.

Our next, and most pleasant task, was to select the first interns.
Two considerations directed our selection. First, we had to balance
the substantive interests of the Congresswomen with the interests
of the graduate students. Congresswomen were polled, and gave us a
list of "timely" topics they wanted researched for 1980-81; these
included women and credit, women and social security, women and
pensions, women and health care, women in the military,
occupational hazards and safety, and women and the federal budget.
We then sought students in appropriate fields: women's studies,
economics, sociology, health care, psychology and public
administration. Applicants completed a standard form, indicating
academic background, interests, and competence in writing and

The second important consideration, from our perspective, was that
students have some demonstrated interest in women's issues,
interest in political activities, and tolerance for the exigencies
of being an elected official. We interviewed applicants, and talked
with them about their assessment of the political value of research
they had done. We looked both for feminist understanding of social
organization and a flexible approach to political bargaining: a
major concern of the congressional offices was that the interns not
be ideologues unable to understand that Congresswomen must
sometimes represent their constituents' desires rather than their
own, and that an opponent on one issue can be a friend on another.

Students selected for the first group of internships reflected our
concern for a balance of research ability with personal maturity.
Most are in their late twenties; one is in her mid-forties. Two are
raising children, and all have worked at full time jobs along with
graduate study. Many have political experience (working for Common
Cause, NOW, in battered women's shelters and rape crisis centers);
one has finished law school, and another is in her third year.

These interns began meeting together in mid-July 1980, to learn
about the legislative and administrative organization of the
Congress before beginning work in their assigned offices in
September. Their five-week course on "Women and Public Policy" was
directed by a specially appointed faculty member with both academic
experience in women's studies and political experience working on
social security reform at the Department of Health and Social

The interns will continue to meet weekly throughout the year in a
3 credit intern policy seminar. The weekly seminar is designed to
provide essential cohort support for the interns, protecting them
from becoming wrapped up in the intense electioneering atmosphere
of many of their offices, and to magnify their concentration and the
effectiveness of their feminist research by enabling them to share
resources, insights and analyses. It will also enable interns to
meet with leaders of women's political organizations to exchange
information gleaned from and about the federal system and to learn
about the work of these groups that support legislation and
critique regulations.

By the end of the academic year, students should have completed
papers and projects (such as organizing hearings) that entitle them
to 12 hours of research credit in women's studies and related
disciplines. Their assignments are to include two research
projects: a review of research/administrative action on some
long-term topic of interest, and legislative monitoring and review
of a current piece of legislation. As much as possible, students'
hours in their offices will have been devoted to their research
assignments, but they will also have been called upon to give
briefings, write speeches and answer constituent mail.

It is not easy to put together political exigencies and academic
requirements. There are undoubtedly many problems remaining to be
solved as the internship project unfolds, but such efforts are one
embodiment of what feminists and women's studies theorists have
always advocated: the application of systematic intelligence to the
process of social change. We hope that the alliance between the GWU
Women's Studies Program and the Women's Research and Education
Institute of the Congresswomen's Caucus will be a model for other
such alliances, between women's studies programs and feminist
legislators in state and municipal government across the country.


                  M. Sue Wagner and Alwynelle S. Ahl

Politics, particularly legislative action, has long been of concern
to feminists. In recent years, some of the most controversial
political issues have been those affecting women. Many of these
issues have dealt with the role of biology in the lives of women,
particularly concerns about reproductive health. The pilot project
described here was designed as an attempt to provide a research
resource to those in politics and government concerned with
feminist issues, to provide women's studies students an opportunity
to learn more about the legislative process first-hand, and to
expose students to the potential for careers with state and local

In order to have good laws there must be a background of reliable
and current information with which to develop legislation.
Recognizing the increasing importance of biological knowledge to
legislation being drafted in Michigan, the NOW (National
Organization for Women) legislative liaison sought to develop a
resource base of scientific information pertinent to present
political issues. In order to accomplish this goal, the NOW
lobbyist sought help from several faculty members in the Department
of Natural Science at Michigan State University. The result of this
collaboration was an independent study internship program titled
"Issues of Science and Society, Science and Politics."

In the fall of 1979, women's studies students at MSU were given an
opportunity to participate in this program. In the pilot project,
selected students worked with a supervising professor from the
Department of Natural Science and the liaison lobbyist for Michigan
NOW. Students worked on political problems involving a substantial
scientific component, usually a topic concerning women's health.
The research done by the students and faculty was useful to NOW and
to some legislators in a variety of ways. It provided background
information for pending legislation, defined and clarified
biological and medical terminology, provided data which could be
used for legislative floor debate, provided background information
and recommendation for future legislation, and provided an
historical framework regarding issues in politics and women's
health. In each case the student worked closely with a faculty
advisor, the NOW representative, and in certain instances with
members of the legislature. Students earned from two to four
(quarter) credit hours of independent study which was applicable to
their Women's Thematic Program, toward elective credit, or as
science credit.

The projects were varied. One student defined the diseases which
could endanger a woman's health during pregnancy. This information
was used to write amendments to a bill which seeks to prohibit
Medicaid funding for abortions unless the life of the woman is
endangered. Another student researched the history of the
anti-abortion movement in America and its relation to the
nineteenth century professionalization of medicine. Another student
studied the effects of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs on women,
especially pregnant women. Then, based on her research she made
recommendations for possible legislative action. Another student
did research on the impact of lead poisoning in the workplace.
Particularly examined were the levels of lead in the workplace that
affect fertility. He suggested legislation which would improve such
hazardous working conditions.

There were benefits from this program for students, for NOW, for
participating faculty, and for legislators. The students learned
about the political process as involved participants rather than as
observers. They learned to translate the results of scientific
studies into information necessary for legislative action. The
students' viewpoint on science and the legislative process was
considerably broadened. In the process students learned how the
work of scientists affects society. In addition the experience
pointed out potential employment opportunities. In fact one student
is now working for a legislator met in the course of this
internship. Another student is now working for the county agency in
which the intern research was done last term.

The information provided by student and faculty research is a new
resource available to legislators. Furthermore, the growing data
base permits Michigan NOW to do background work for new legislation
as opposed to merely reacting to it. A potential result is that
feminists can become an integral part of the inner workings of the
legislature rather than only an outside pressure group.

The benfits for faculty included close work with superior students
in supervised independent study. It was gratifying to watch
students develop an appreciation for the practical uses of
seemingly abstract scientific ideas. Several of the papers
completed to date are being jointly published by the student and
faculty member.

The internship program has been offered again during winter term of
1980, and the fall term of 1980-81. Following that semester a
complete evaluation of the program will be undertaken, a decision
made as to whether the program should be enlarged and how
administrative details will be handled, etc. At this point the
program seems to have a number of benefits for all involved, but it
is a time-consuming administrative chore for certain faculty. It is
possible that this internship will be incorporated formally into
the Women's Studies Program at MSU, expanding to include faculty
from the social sciences as well as the natural sciences. This
would broaden the scope of research undertaken and thus the
resource base available to legislators.

State legislatures, city councils and county commissions are
increasingly called upon to make laws regarding our biology and our
health. They often do not have staffs with sufficient expertise to
address these questions as carefully as they should be addressed.
Thus, for legislators, this program provides a means of tapping
scientific expertise in order to improve the quality of
legislation; it provides students with practical experience with
science and politics and feminism; it provides NOW with a valuable
database for present and future activity. We consider that the
initial trial of the project has been a success.

                   II. A STUDENT PERSPECTIVE

                          Amy N. Moss

In September of 1979 I enrolled in a one-term Internship
(independent study in the Department of Natural Science) in
Science, Politics, and Feminism. Initially I enrolled because the
course fulfilled a natural science requirement and counted toward
my Women's Studies Thematic Program at Michigan State University
(MSU). In this internship I worked with a faculty member (Alwynelle
Ahl), the Michigan NOW lobbyist (Sue Wagner), and a member of the
state legislature (Senator Doug Ross, D-Oakland).

My chosen assignment was to research how some specific diseases or
conditions in pregnancy affect women's present and future health.
In particular I worked on Senate Bill 157, which reads as follows
"...An abortion shall not be a service provided to a recipient of
medical assistance under this act except if the abortion is
necessary to save the life of the mother." The latter part of this
statement was to be my primary concern. What health conditions
pre-existing before pregnancy pose special health hazards in
pregnancy? It was important that these facts be added as amendments
to this Bill to prolong deliberation on it, to diminish its impact
on poor women, or to cause the Bill to be withdrawn or killed.

Pregnancy always poses some threat to a woman's health and life.
Certain pre-existing diseases, such as diabetes or sickle cell
anemia, increase the risk of pregnancy for a woman. With excellent
medical care, that threat can be minimized. However, for women who
have not had excellent medical care before conception or who do not
have excellent care during pregnancy, the threat is greater. My
task was to research specific health conditions (some 20 of them)
in which abortions might be necessary to save the life of the
woman. The research was made into a packet of amendments that could
be used against this Bill and against similar legislation in other
parts of the country.

Medical texts and journals from the MSU science library provided my
basic information. In weekly meetings with my professor we reviewed
the material collected for each disease or condition. I also
maintained contact with the Michigan NOW lobbyist who was
responsible for arranging the political end of the internship.
Senator Doug Ross and his staff director, Robert O'Leary, directed
my work at the legislature. They kept me apprised of where the
Bill stood, and made sure I was writing the amendments properly.

The outcomes of this project were all positive for me. Most of all,
it was satisfying to see my work used. Of all the papers I have written
for college credit, this was by far the most meaningful. When I
enrolled in this internship, I was a disillusioned psychology
major, and had recently added social work as a second major. I had
been disappointed with the psychology courses at MSU and I hoped
the social work courses would be more applicable to real life. My
desire was to work on a one-to-one basis with people, perhaps as a
feminist-therapist. However, I was really without a definite career
goal when I began this internship.

Several very important things happened to me as a result of my work
in this internship. The first was that I grew more confident of
myself as a writer and researcher. It meant a great deal to me that
my material would be used by professionals in the political arena
and as a starting point for further research by my professor. What
was especially significant about the uses of my work in the
political arena was that it coincided so completely with my own
feminist political beliefs.

Had I researched the same material for a traditional science course
as a term paper, the information probably would have never gotten
any further than the professor's desk, my personal satisfaction no
further than a grade. Because the information being researched was
needed for policy development purposes, and because I was working
with legislative policy makers, my research was much more valuable
to me.

Out of this experience came a much greater understanding of the
political process. I had never realized before how much a
legislator must trust the members of his/her staff to provide them
with adequate information. I learned very quickly that it would be
impossible for a lawmaker to know all the facts about every issue
that comes up; his or her staff is invaluable in providing facts
about key issues, and thus, in contributing to political decisions.

Since last fall, I have changed my major and developed a career
goal; it is apparent that the internship experience influenced
these choices. Before the internship, my knowledge of policy makers
and administrators was so limited that I had not considered a
career in public policy. I had never met a female policy maker, but
I had met and admired several female counselors or therapists. So
in a way, I was scared away from even considering a non-traditional
career because of my ignorance, my lack of female role models, and
my lack of confidence in my own abilities. It took me a while to
realize that I had drifted into my majors probably because I was
female, a difficult thing to admit for someone who prides herself
on awareness of sexism.

This internship has helped me see that there is a need for female
decision makers in the political process, and that I would like my
"place" in the whole scheme of things to be in the decision-making
area rather than in the distributive area as a social worker or
therapist. Perhaps I would be good as a therapist or a social
worker, but my ability to influence others would be limited to a
relatively few clients. My wish now is to have a career in which I
can achieve more power, status and influence. My reasons for
wanting this are not totally selfish ones: if more women achieve
power positions in government and industry, there is some hope that
major changes can be made regarding policies that affect women. If
we don't do for ourselves no one will do for us!

                        STUDENT INTERNSHIP

Students selected will work with a supervising professor and an
individual in state politics. In this pilot project, the political
liaison will be the registered lobbyist for NOW (National
Organization for Women). Students will plan and organize their
independent study projects with these two supervisors. Topics for
research are wide and varied with opportunity for students to work
on projects close to their own personal interests. Some suggested
topics are listed below.

     THERAPEUTIC ABORTION                   

For Fall 1979 and Winter 1980, we would like to have some interns
who are interested in researching guidelines for maternal health in
pregnancy as related to therapeutic abortion.

Students chosen for this Internship may earn up to 4 credits in
Natural Science 300 for each term of participation (total credits
in NS300 must not exceed 12). 

                         MICHIGAN NOW
National Organization for Women .....NOW's purpose is to take
action to bring women into full porticipation in the mainstream of
American society now, exercising all the privileges and
responsibilities thereof in truly equal partnership with men.

                    CODE OF CONFIDENTIALITY

As an intern for the National Organization for Women (NOW),I
understand that I will have certain responsibilities which may
expose me to situations where I will hear information about public
officials which should not be revealed.

Furthermore, this signed statement means that I also understand the
importance of confidentiality of political strategies of NOW and
legislators who advocate NOW's political positions. I am, however,
free to discuss my project with others so long as it has no long or
short term negative ramifications for NOW.                        
Therefore, this statement is to assure NOW that I understand      
the importance of my position and that I represent NOW; I then    
agree not to disclose any information which I might hear about    
someone in either the political or personal domain.




                        Ann Simon

For over fifty years Antioch College, in Yellow Springs, Ohio, has
required a field experience program of cooperative education for
all students in this small, private liberal arts college. Antioch
students alternate quarters of study on campus with quarters of
full time paid employment or equivalent activity off-campus
throughout the United States. To meet requirements for graduation
they must complete at least six different field placements.

The coop program is integral to the Antioch curriculum; some work
experiences are considered essential to the students' general
education, while others serve as part of their preparation in a
major academic field. In addition, the coop program is seen as an
opportunity for students to seek first-hand experience in deciding
on a course of study and in preparing for post-graduation
employment or graduate school. Each quarter, coop students are
placed on one of several hundred jobs regularly available through
the Center for Cooperative Education; placements are based on
students' preferences, an assessment of their skills, coursework
and previous experience. Before leaving campus for the field
placement, students determine their learning objectives with a
member of the coop faculty. When they complete their fieldwork,
they are evaluated by the employer; students also write a
description of their work, produce a paper or project documenting
and evaluating what they learned, and have a final conference with
their coop advisor to discuss the extent to which their educational
objectives were achieved. Credit is awarded on the basis of
documented learning as well as responsible and successful
performance on the job. Within the context of this program, there
are three major areas in which I have sought to create feminist
learning experiences: encouraging women undergraduates to approach
their own lives with a feminist perspective as they make decisions
about their futures; making available placements with organizations
working on feminist issues; assisting students to utilize tools of
feminist observation and analysis in a variety of job settings.

Similar efforts could be made in many different types of
experiential education programs whose on-going responsibility is to
arrange off-campus learning experiences, such as a coop or service
learning program on campus, a department of experience-based
education, a public policy internship program, pre-professional
training opportunities (student teaching, social work practica,
internships in the ministry, law, nursing, etc.), an urban semester
program, an off-campus project during a winter term or even summer
employment arranged for credit independently by students. Here we
may find experiential educators and placement professionals whose
interest in feminism motivates them to design special opportunities
within existing programs to meet the specific needs of women's
studies students. 

                 Feminist Life/Career Planning

Field placement professionals--explicitly or implicitly--help
students make decisions about their future life work through direct
experience in preparation for a specific career. With feminist
consciousness-raising in mind, I have identified the following
assumptions or expectations (geared primarily to this 18-21
year-old college population) that I encourage each student to make
about herself. I view these assumptions as a statement of what each
woman fundamentally deserves, a starting point from which she can
then deal with race, class and/or sex barriers she may encounter.

1. She will have an adult work life of forty years or more.

2. She can spend her years of employment at work she chooses.

3. In selecting a direction for her life work, she begins with the
belief that she is competent, and takes into consideration all
possible options open to her. She is careful to sort out her own
interests from expectations that other people may have for her. She
has the right to determine what she wants, and to take appropriate
action to achieve it. She is free to take risks, and she may change
her mind.

4. She will be able to support herself by her labor, and to support
other people--adults and children--whom she may choose to include
in her life.

5. She can live where her work and interests take her.

I usually present these assumptions to students in the context of
individual conversation in my office, while discussing how the coop
program works, what a student learned during a recent field
placement, what job to select for the next coop quarter, what she
intends to major in, and what she'll do when she graduates. Women's
studies faculty can also raise these same issues in individual
conversation with advisees as well as in the classroom.

When I present these expectations to students I am careful never to
make sex-stereotyped assumptions, such as encouraging a young woman
to work as a teacher's aide because she lists child care experience
on her resume (perhaps the only money-making option she was able to
pursue before entering college), or assuming that a woman who says
she's interested in science means biology or botany rather than
graduate work in astrophysics.

I also point out to a student any stereotyped assumptions she may
be making about herself, and urge her to broaden her perspective.
For example, a student may have the impulse to withdraw from
candidacy for her preferred field placement if she learns that an
acquaintance wants the same job, saying she is sure the other
person is better qualified. I suggest that she may not be giving
herself credit for the ability she has, noting that women
habitually underrate our skills and even apologize for our
achievements by attributing them to good fortune. In this case I
present her with evidence of her competence from my knowledge of
her previous work or from employer ratings in her file. I also
discuss her desire to avoid competition, noting how women are
taught that it's "too selfish" to give more importance to our own
wishes than to those of a friend and it's "too pushy" to stick up
for what we want. I submit that it might be a positive experience
to"practice" competing with a student she knows, even if the other
person does get the job. 

The assumption that adult women can take charge of their lives can
be very powerful. At times--even on the Antioch campus where
feminist values are part of the dominant campus climate--students
find it difficult or conflict-producing (as well as thrilling and
intoxicating) to fully internalize and act upon this premise. As
feminist educators, we can help students think about life/career
issues to sort out and deal with their changing values, doubts and
conflicts, as well as their growing confidence.

                           Feminist Work

Experiential learning programs can utilize existing resources to
create feminist field placements. My definition of feminist field
work includes any field experience with an organization that
addresses women's issues and works to further feminist aims.

Organizations where feminist field placements are possible can be
described or categorized in several ways: according to the kind of
work they do, the issues or clientele they address, their
long-range goals, and their organizational structure. The following
impressionistic continuum of the field experiences available to
Antioch students over the past several years, takes into account a
combination of these factors.

Radical Feminist Organizations: characterized by an effort to
create a non-hierarchic organizational structure, collective
decision-making process, shared responsibility for routine tasks;
also the commitment to working for fundamental change in the life
experience of women while building new, all-women, feminist
structures. Students have worked in the following settings of this
nature: feminist counseling collective (Georgia); women's land
(Oregon); feminist theater (D.C.); shelter for battered women
(Florida); women's health center (California); and lesbian resort
community (Florida).

Organization With Explicit Feminist Goals: characterized by a
commitment to working for fundamental change in the life experience
of women, maintaining a moderate or minimum degree of hierarchy in
staff structure and decision-making. Students have worked with many
groups that fall into this category: rape crisis center (Georgia),
feminist-oriented monthly newspaper (Texas), projects organizing
women office, factory, domestic workers (Massachusetts, North
Carolina), and various women's rights activities including ERA
campaign (Illinois), monitoring vocational education legislation
compliance (Georgia), providing hot-line information service about
Title IX regulations regarding athletics (D.C.).

Women's Issue Organizations: characterized by a concern for
improving conditions and opportunities for women, with traditional
hierarchic organizational structure. Feminist goals may be achieved
through some of the efforts of such organizations, while such goals
may or may not be their central focus. In this grouping, students
have been assigned to a city government commission on the status of
women (Georgia), a project for increasing access of women to
management-level corporate jobs (Georgia), a recreation program for
women prisoners (Michigan), and a home for pregnant teenagers
(California); an assignment in an affirmative action office of a
university, business or government agency would also fall into this

It is interesting to note that in some instances, the type or
content of the work has little bearing on the organization's place
on the continuum. I have had contacts with different battered
women's shelters, for example, which fit into each of the three
categories--according to their organizational structure, their
stated purpose, and their analysis of the problem they are working
on or the services they offer.

While organizations which fall anywhere on the continuum can offer
students an opportunity to do feminist work, there is a unique
learning opportunity available at placements in "radical feminist"
settings. Here a student may also observe and participate in the
process established by organizations whose structure is a
non-hierarchical alternative to the "mainstream" projects or groups
she's likely to participate in more frequently throughout her life.

             Feminist Perspective in a Non-Feminist Setting

Because of my involvement in a campus-wide experiential education
program which sends every student on six or more different field
placements, I have given considerable thought and attention to the
experience of feminist students who inevitably spend some of their
coop quarters in entirely non-feminist settings. From my work with
these students, I have concluded that field experiences which do
not provide opportunities for feminist work can nevertheless serve
as important sources for feminist education. Women's studies
students can learn a great deal by applying tools of feminist
observation and analysis to virtually any placement setting.

I have developed several approaches to feminist learning in a
non-feminist setting: analysis of sexism at the workplace and in
the community, practice at implementing feminist change, and
individual personal growth in feminist directions. I find that
students can best take advantage of these suggestions if they have
already had one or more women's studies courses--preferably at
least one in the social sciences--and if they have been involved in
some campus feminist activity, such as a consciousness-raising
group or feminist organizing project.

Analysis: At the worksite, students observe job categories among
their co-workers, by whom (according to race, sex, class, age) they
are filled and what the job descriptions are for each category.
They can analyze how and by whom leadership is exerted, both
formally and informally. They can examine sexism manifested in the
social interactions among the workers as well as with clientele
(students, customers, patients, clients, etc.).

Next, students can look at the organization as a whole: the
research institution or corporation, the library or museum, the
factory, the hospital. They can investigate practices of hiring and
promotion, examine methods of decision-making and who are the
decision-makers. They can analyze what segments of the community
the organization serves, and what, if any, discriminatory messages
community members receive in their contact with the organization.

Finally, students can observe the quality of life for women in the
community where they are working and/or living, the availability of
child care or women's health care, the safety measures needed and
provided for women, and the resources available for women who have
been beaten or raped. They can determine the degree to which the
experiences and needs of women are reported in the local media, and
consider the ways in which concerns of women are addressed through
the elected political process.

Practice: Students may also approach a field experience with the
intention of implementing feminist goals in conjunction with the
placement. They can prepare to try out non-sexist teaching methods
and curriculum in a day care center, a high school, the waiting
room of a pediatric hospital, or in an outdoor education center.
They can develop theories and techniques for feminist counseling to
apply in a counseling center, a welfare office or a residence for
disturbed adolescents. They can plan to set up a consciousness-
raising group among the women workers at a factory, the women
graduate research assistants, or the teenagers who hang out at the
community center after school.

They might become a member of a committee setting up affirmative
action guidelines for the organization or assisting with
recruitment efforts. They might provide resources and impetus for
employees of a corporation or factory to organize a day care

Personal Growth: Students may want to devote time to their personal
development during their field placement, either in association
with the placement itself or during their hours after work. They
might focus on practicing assertiveness skills with an aggressive
supervisor or with co-workers. They can seek out opportunities on
the job to learn new skills in areas usually considered
"non-traditional" for women, such as carpentry, mechanical repair,
budget design or procedures for running a board meeting.

Students can also utilize a non-feminist placement, perhaps in
comparison with a previous experience in a radical feminist
organization, to help make decisions about how to approach their
life work as feminists. In a non-feminist setting students may find
themselves identified as the "company feminist" and can document
their feelings and behaviors in response to representing, sometimes
solely, that position.


My goal in this review of experiential opportunities for women's
studies students in field placements outside the women's studies
program has been several-fold. First to suggest to feminist
experiential educators and placement professionals ways to address
within their programs the needs of women's studies students.
Second, to suggest to women's studies faculty ways to utilize the
resources of existing field placement programs on their campuses to
augment opportunities for their students to have feminist field
experiences. Third, to show how field placements in non-feminist
settings can yield opportunities for feminist learning and, in some
cases, for implementing feminist social change. And finally, to
suggest how experiential educators and women's studies faculty can
expose students to principles of feminist life-planning--an issue
which I consider essential to feminist education.

I believe that the notion of a feminist field experience is
absolutely consistent with the vision of a feminist academy.
Nothing could be more appropriate for feminist students than
learning about the experience of women by living and observing
women's experiences in the workplace and by joining forces with
community women to work on feminist issues affecting the quality of
women's lives on and off campus.