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Q&A With Dr. Naranch On Women's History Month & More

Posted By Allison Turcio | March 7, 2016

Did you know that at Siena, all courses are faculty-taught? No TAs, no grad students. Here, you'll be learning from professors with impressive credentials, who all happen to be incredible and inspiring people, too. So we thought, why not kick off a new Q&A series on the blog where you can learn more about them? In honor of Women's History Month, we're starting off with Dr. Laurie Naranch. Interested in gender studies? Read on.

Dr. Naranch on Women's History MonthName: Laurie E. Naranch, Ph.D. 

Title: Director, Women's Studies Minor; Chair and Associate Professor, Political Science Department

Current Town: Round Lake, NY

Favorite bookA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

About the photo you see here: This pic was taken on the Fair Trade/Women's Studies trip in February 2016 to Guatemala. Dr. Naranch, second from the left, is joined by students and colleagues. 

Q: What do you love about being able to teach both political science and women's studies courses at Siena?

Since my interests include the study of politics and gender justice it's easy to do both as a scholar and a teacher. I love being able to study and teach how politics shapes our experiences of gender and vice versa. Many basic laws about citizenship, marriage, property and education rely on assumptions about masculinity and femininity. I look at politics broadly understood and often in terms of popular culture such as TV and film. Being able to explore with students the meaning of struggles for freedom, equality, representation and fairness is very rewarding.
Q. Tell us a little about the women's studies department at Siena. What makes it different from others? And what are you currently excited about it?
The students! Our women's studies (WSTU) minors are fantastic. The women and men who are minors are empowered learners and critical thinkers, and they learn real leadership skills. The minor is situated within Siena's mission to be student-centered, value the unique worth of each person and delight in diversity. Also, we are at an all-time high in our number of minors. Many of the students interested in the new Student Designed Interdisciplinary Major (SDIM) are incorporating a gendered lens of analysis. I give credit to the first SDIM major, Anna Youngmann ('15 Global Gender Justice) for providing a strong example. The minor is also offering the course "Gender Equality and Integration in the Nordic Countries" this spring with travel to Norway, Iceland and Sweden. In terms of other events, the featured thinker for the Symposium on Living Philosophers is the Italian feminist philosopher Adriana Cavarero who will give her spring lecture on April 14. Students in this course get credit in political science, philosophy, and/or for the WSTU minor. We are very interdisciplinary.
Q: Does the women's studies department at Siena do anything in particular to celebrate or acknowledge Women's History Month? (Or do you, outside of class?)
There are many events throughout the year through the minor, but also through the wonderful Sister Thea Bowman Center for Women housed in Student Affairs. For International Women's Day on March 8, I will attend the events at the Opalka Gallery in Albany with some colleagues and students. The Women's Center will also host a series of events for the Anti-Human Trafficking week this month.
Q: Who are the top three women you admire and why?
There are many women to recognize. Two of my women's studies minors wanted to be sure I recognized Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (a.k.a. Notorious RBG). I will also include the 19th century abolitionist and women's right advocate Sojourner Truth, and I can't resist mentioning the 19th century political theorist John Stuart Mill, who makes a still relevant case for gender equality in private and public life. 
Q: Have any advice for prospective students looking to study gender issues in college? 

Gender studies has personal, scholarly and professional relevance in all subject areas and careers. You can pursue this passion from whatever location you find yourself. 

Want to meet Dr. Naranch in person? Contact us today to plan a campus visit!

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