Center for Women and Religion at the GTU was the earliest established center for women in theological education. (Archived collection listing in library catalog.)
The Center for Women and Religion at the GTU (originally the Office of Women’s Affairs) was founded in 1970 to provide social, academic and spiritual support for all women at the GTU, including students, faculty, faculty spouses and staff. The early offerings of CWR/OWA included consciousness-raising groups, a library, crafts workshops and a variety of courses. The Center went on to host a number of significant publication projects, most notably The Journal of Women and Religion, and to put on several major conferences. In 2003, the Center closed its doors due to funding difficulties. A final conference celebrating its history and accomplishments was held on March 30th, 2005.
In the fall of 2004, Dean Arthur Holder asked a number of GTU women faculty to discuss the future of Women’s Studies at the GTU after the closing of CWR. Among the questions posed to this group, and to the larger open faculty forum it convened in early 2005, was whether and how the GTU could continue to promote Women’s Studies in a helpful and organized fashion with a drastically reduced budget. At the faculty forum, it was decided that the GTU did indeed have the resources for a modest Certificate Program in Women’s Studies in Religion and Theology; a group of volunteers from the GTU faculty (later called the faculty advisory committee) was charged with writing the proposal for such a program. This faculty advisory board called an open meeting of interested students, faculty, board members and community members in April 2005. Taking into account suggestions proposed at this meeting, the faculty advisory board drew up a proposal for a program in October 2005 which was submitted and approved by the GTU in 2006.
The Mission of the Women's Studies in Religion Certificate Program:
Women’s Studies in Religion (WSR) is a program of the Graduate Theological Union. Its purpose is to sustain, promote, and advance the commitment to the study of women, gender and religion, emphasizing conversations across differences of race, sexual and gender orientation, ethnicity, class, culture, nationality, and religious orientation.
The goals of the WSR program include:
- To enhance the academic offerings available to students throughout the GTU by providing a rigorous and interdisciplinary certificate program in the study of women and religion.
- To organize and present programs, workshops, symposia, or conferences (as permitted by personnel and resources) to support research and exchanges in the study of women and religion.
- To support and encourage new initiatives in women’s studies by interested faculty and students.
- To maintain the GTU’s links with the Gender Consortium at the University of California, Berkeley.
The Women’s Studies in Religion program affirms the GTU’s long-standing commitment to women’s studies in theology and religion; builds upon the network of academic and community centers and initiatives that have been established at or in relation to the GTU for the study and support of women in religion; and recognizes the innovative work in women’s and gender studies contributed by consortial faculty in theological and religious disciplines. With a strong academic thrust, the WSR Program serves Master’s (MA, MDiv, MTS) and Doctoral students (PhD and DMin) who desire to concentrate on women’s studies in their degree programs.