education

Cornell’s Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Major

March 7, 2015 in Academics, Admissions, Alive Campus, Colleges, Reviews

Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Major: At Cornell, we don’t simply study “Women’s Studies” or “Gender Studies,” but rather, we study FGSS. By this, I mean to say that we study the intersectionality between feminist movement, gender—in its general form—and queer politics as it relates to broader institutions.

Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Major: At Cornell, we don’t simply study “Women’s Studies” or “Gender Studies,” but rather, we study FGSS. By this, I mean to say that we study the intersectionality between feminist movement, gender—in its general form—and queer politics as it relates to broader institutions.

In lower school, your level of kindness defines you. In middle school, your level of popularity defines you. In upper school, your clique-identity defines you. In college, your majors and minors define you.

Your courses of study are incredibly important components of your identity in college. So choose wisely. I decided to choose the FGSS major and the LGBT minor (they go hand in hand, actually):

  • Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Major: At Cornell, we don’t simply study “Women’s Studies” or “Gender Studies,” but rather, we study FGSS. By this, I mean to say that we study the intersectionality between feminist movement, gender—in its general form—and queer politics as it relates to broader institutions.

As a gay-identifying male, I came to Cornell already sure that I would major, or the very least minor, in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. I feel that it’s imperative that queer identifying individuals be familiar with the history of the movements that have given them the rights and privileges that they currently have. Granted, we don’t necessarily have very many privileges, but relative to the 1950’s, we’re living pretty well in our current American society. What I truly enjoyed about the major, prior to coming to Cornell, was the idea that such a major even exists! With Ivy League institutions being what they are, I was surprised that Cornell was so liberal and progressive so as to have such a major.

After spending two years at Cornell, and having taken over 15 courses in the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and LGBT Studies departments, I think I have a basic understanding of what goes on in the major. What I won’t do here is tell you graduation requirements—as a simple Google search could help you to answer that. What I will tell you is why FGSS is such an amazing major:

  • The classes are small: Cornell boasts its 20,000 student population. FGSS, being the major that it is, doesn’t really attract that many students to begin with—after all, it’s no political science or biology. However, small classes are fundamental when it comes to in-depth discussion on the social issues that marginalized communities face. It’s also imperative that classes remain small so as to create safe spaces—queer and feminist politics are controversial issues and everyone should feel comfortable voicing their opinions.
  • You get a different perspective of history: Coming from a high school that specializes in law and society, Global history, and American history, I can wholeheartedly state that I never once learned about queer history. My APUSH professor once mentioned something about Stonewall, but that was just a brief aside. Cornell’s FGSS major has given me an in-depth perspective on the people that have given me the freedom to walk down the street holding my boyfriend’s hand. As a social activist for the queer community, I find it wonderfully enlightening to hear the stories of those who have re-shaped society for the better.
  • Being with people who understand you: The FGSS major and LGBT minor (which usually go hand in hand) are full of feminists and queers. That’s not to say that there aren’t allies, but the majority of the people who study these disciplines have a purpose for being there. Every class is full of students who understand my struggles and with whom I feel comfortable sharing my personal stories. It’s like being in a queer-straight alliance 24/7!

There are, of course, so many other reasons for my being in the FGSS department, but those are just a few. I would recommend that you take at least one course in the FGSS or LGBT Studies departments before you graduate—hey, you get to watch porn for class!

Joe Swaggerty: Kutztown Art Education Major

September 13, 2013 in Academics, Alive Campus, Career, Colleges, Style

Kutztown is known for its education programs and its art programs, and art education is the perfect major for those who want to take advantage of both. I learned a lot about this interesting program through Joe Swaggerty, a senior-year student here trying to finish up his final semesters. The amount of work that he does for his degree is impressive, and it makes me feel like I’ve done next to nothing in comparison as a writing major. One thing Joe says he has complained about time and again has been the misconception people have about art majors, which is that they do no work. “Nothing pisses me off more than when someone says, ‘Oh, you’re an art major! Cool! I wish I could draw and paint all day, that sounds fun and easy!’ Well, it’s not. Far from it.” He says that switching from art to art education introduced him to even more work.

But it’s all going to be worth it for Joe, because with such high quality teaching and art programs, he’s gaining a vast knowledge of all things related to teaching art in a classroom. As far as purely art classes go, he’s taken classes requiring him to draw, paint, build, and even sculpt. He has excelled in all of these, and now has an impressive portfolio to show for it. He says that he used to just draw and doodle, albeit very well, and being required to take so many classes focusing on various new mediums and disciplines, his abilities have grown exponentially. He showed me a comic strip he drew one, when he was younger and bored, and it looked fantastic (it was hilarious, too). But now his drawings look like something a professional would make. They are crisp and sharp and realistic, or they are purposefully sketchy and surrealistic. In any case, they are impressive. But now he can also produce beautiful, large paintings, showing great detail. His knack for lighting is ridiculously good, as you can see below.

These paintings impressed the hell out of me, and both were done as assignments for a class. He tells me that many of the things he’s made would never have been made if they weren’t assignments, and he’d never have known that he was capable of such artistic feats. Coming up with ideas for subject matter are difficult, he says, and he worries that will be a problem when he’s not being given assignments or getting commissioned from someone (which has happened, and paid quite well). But everything that he makes is wonderful. One of his best innate abilities is the way he can put humor into his artwork. He didn’t need training for that–he’s one of the funniest people I’ve ever known, and there are many pieces of art that are both remarkable and simply hilarious.

Joe started out in the fine arts major, but switched to art education later on. It’s a commonly-held belief that majoring in fine arts is a risky endeavor because marketing oneself after graduation would be difficult. I don’t know how much truth there is in that, but even I have heard that many times. Anyway, having the educational training definitely makes one more marketable. And, apparently, there is a high demand not only for art teachers, but especially male art teachers, which is good news for Joe. However, the educational aspects of the major have presented him with a whole new set of challenges. He tells me about one class in particular focusing on the artistic education of kindergartners. “The professor talks to us like we ourselves are kindergartners. It was so weird. At first it seemed condescending, but it’s obviously the best way to teach something like that. It was actually really fun.”

Soon, Joe will graduate and enter the professional world. He is nervous, as anyone would and should be, but after seeing his work and getting to know him, I’m totally confident he can make it just fine. He’s charismatic, funny, and outgoing, and that means his employers will like him, and his future students will love him. He has great technique, and can produce quality artwork in short order. I’ve asked him to explain techniques, and he can do so in a way that anyone can understand. I don’t think he’ll have any problems teaching art, and, in fact, I would love to sit in on his classes. It’s clear Joe Swaggerty made a good decision when he chose Kutztown for an art education.