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New Programme in Gender Studies

31st January, 2011

The University of the South Pacific will be for the first time offering specialised courses in Gender Studies in Fiji from this year. This is to meet the domestic training needs for gender specialists and also to build regional capacity of gender experts in the South Pacific region.

The GN200 - Contemporary Feminism: Theory, Methods and Debates for Gender Research and GN300 - Gender, Global Change and Development in a Comparative Perspective courses will be offered as part of a Minor in Gender Studies for students at undergraduate level.
The courses are open to new and existing students who want to take Gender Studies as electives and those who want to specialise in it.

The courses will equip students with skills in feminist and/or gender studies research by examining contemporary issues and debates regarding feminist research methods, methodology and epistemology. It will also look at how the measures and processes of development are gendered and what policies and institutions have been set in place nationally, regionally and internationally to advocate for gender justice.

Dr Priya Chattier, Coordinator of the Gender Studies Programme at USP, says that the courses will help prepare students for careers in public policy, social work, development aid, research, media and other professions in which there is a need for critical and creative interdisciplinary thought with a competitive edge on gendered analysis and frameworks.
As regional and international organisations including women’s NGOs maintain the need for institutionalising gender and development curriculum in the context of the region, Dr Chattier points out that this has been addressed in the Gender Studies programme offered by the University.

“The content of the courses are practically relevant for the Pacific as it reflects historical, cultural, economical and developmental realities of not only Fiji but the South Pacific region, whilst being grounded in gender/feminist research and methodology,” she elaborated.
The new courses are expected to become part of a Major in Gender Studies when a fully-fledged Gender Studies programme becomes available at undergraduate level in the near future.

Dr Chattier believes that USP has gone a step further in the "mainstreaming of gender" across the University curriculum through its compulsory courses. Gender is introduced either as a theme or topic for discussion in the content of the four University compulsory courses.

“It is expected that gender mainstreaming in the USP curriculum will inspire graduates to cross-examine their own positions and take collective actions that will contribute towards achieving gender equality concerns in their own communities, institutions and society as a whole,” she added.

There are plans for the introduction of a Postgraduate Diploma in Gender and Development to be offered jointly by the School of Social Sciences and School of Government, Development Studies and International Affairs.

According to Dr Chattier, this will try to meet the critical skills gaps in gender-sensitive analysis, policy, planning, service delivery and implementation that existing USP graduates in the region can fill.

GN200 and GN300 courses will be offered in semester I and II respectively. Enrollment for the courses is still open.



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