The College of Liberal Arts Policy and Curriculum Committee unanimously approved an interdisciplinary certificate in LGTBQ and sexuality studies, predicted to launch in the fall of 2014.
The certificate is designed to give students the opportunity to take classes from a variety of departments in the College of Liberal Arts that focus on the LGTBQ community. Two more committees must approve the certificate before it can become a definite addition to the College of Liberal Arts’ curriculum.
Lisa Moore, the interim director of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies and member of the faculty advisory committee for the certificate, said its approval feels long overdue.
“UT is still the only one of the top ten public universities in the country that doesn’t offer equal benefits to LGTBQ employees,” Moore said. “I think that creates a climate where it has not been easy to get this work done … I honestly think that there is kind of a feeling that we don’t want to draw attention to anything controversial going on at the UT campus, so that might be one reason why it’s been so slow here for this to happen.”
Having contributed to numerous existing LGTBQ programs at UT, Moore said she has looked forward to the establishment of an undergraduate concentration for a long time.
“We have talked to different administrators over the years about doing this, and this was the first time that we really put something through at the college level,” Moore said. “It was unanimously accepted, so that was really great. In the past we’ve gotten the message that it wouldn’t go through if we suggested it, so we have had to wait.”
Moore said she thinks students from a wide variety of backgrounds and fields of study will be interested in pursuing the certificate because of the relevance of the LGTBQ community in students’ daily lives.
“I think there will be some students who are going to find [the certificate] very personally affirming because it will relate to either their own experience or the experience of family or community members they’re close to,” Moore said. “I think there are going to be students who take it for intellectual and academic reasons, students for whom it’s a personal interest and many students who are going to be both.”
According to Moore, the faculty advisory committee for the certificate has reached out to several professors about teaching classes for the certificate.
“We already have a lot of professors committed to this field,” Moore said. “I’ll be teaching a class I often teach, which is an English class called ‘Gay and Lesbian Literature and Culture.’ I’ve taught that class for a long time, and now it gets to count for somebody’s concentration, which is fantastic.”
Randolph Lewis, an American Studies professor and member of the Policy and Curriculum Committee, said he believes students deserve the chance to receive a certificate in LBGTQ studies and experience the strength of UT’s faculty in this field.
“I can’t speak for the entire committee, but I was very impressed by the quality of the LGTBQ and sexuality studies certificate proposal when we saw it two weeks ago,” Lewis said. “With established programs from Yale to small state colleges, it’s an academic area of growing interest among students, and I see no reason why UT should be left behind.”
Jackie Salcedo, an undergraduate academic advisor at the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, said UT is long overdue in establishing a certificate in LGTBQ studies.
“This is something that students have been demanding for quite some time,” Salcedo said. “The University of Houston has had an LGTBQ minor certificate since around 2007 and the University of North Texas in Denton has had one since around 2004. It’s 2013. UT is supposed to be the flagship university of the state, so let’s get it going.”