Department of Race, Gender, & Sexuality Studies

The Department of Race, Gender, & Sexuality Studies provides an institutional home for interdisciplinary inquiry at Simmons University. It houses four allied undergraduate programs in Africana Studies, Asian Studies, Migration Studies, and Women's and Gender Studies, as well as a Master's program in Gender and Cultural Studies.

Main Campus Building exterior within the campus quad on a bright, sunny day

Studying Race, Gender, & Sexuality Studies at Simmons

The Race, Gender, & Sexuality Studies programs express Simmons's commitment to understanding the power of culture to shape identities, lived experiences, inequities, and opportunities. They encourage work across disciplines and draw on a range of faculty expertise from across the University.

Learning Outcomes

Students in the Africana Studies program will…

  • Content: Analyze major historical, political, social, economic, and cultural developments and institutions of people of African descent, including diverse communities of Black people in the United States and abroad.
  • Knowledge of the Field: Demonstrate a broad understanding of the field, its intellectual and institutional history, its multidisciplinary / interdisciplinary nature, its core concepts and theoretical frameworks, as well as its body of literature and key historiographical debates.
  • Analytical Framework: Identify the foundations and workings of racism, colonialism, classism, heteropatriarchy, and other systems of oppression, as well as the ability to effectively employ the theoretical concept of intersectionality.
  • Skills & Methods: Demonstrate critical thinking and analysis, research, and writing skills, as well as evaluate and employ the field’s major methodological approaches and schools of thought.
  • Relevance & Applicability in a Diverse World: Develop cultural competence and debate current sociopolitical issues and initiatives that are relevant to people of African descent.
  • Global Citizenship & Community Engagement: Apply knowledge to research and develop solutions to challenge systemic oppressions and take action to create social change in local communities and the world at large.


At the successful completion of the program in Asian Studies, students will:

  • Form a deeper understanding of the history, politics, and culture of East and Southeast Asia
  • Gain experience in East and Southeast Asia through language training and Study Abroad experiences
  • Understand the impact of global politics in the region

The Minor in Migration Studies has three main learning and professional outcomes:

  • Thanks to the required “Introduction to Migration Studies” course and to the range of electives, we expect all students to walk away from the Minor with a solid foundation in the growing interdisciplinary field of migration studies. In addition to enhancing their global awareness, this program will cover key disciplinary and methodological approaches to migration and immigration.
  • Because students will largely craft their own program of study, drawing from a rich and interdisciplinary array of courses, students will develop deep content knowledge in areas of interest to them. While one student may concentrate heavily on questions related to law, policy, and international relations, another student may graduate with insights about representations of the migratory experience in art and literature, as well as the ways local groups use the arts to elaborate upon their identities and strengthen communities.
  • Finally, by formalizing experiential learning in partnership with our local communities, the Migration Minor will help prepare students for a variety of professions. Students will gain essential hands-on experience for future careers in nongovernmental organizations, legal services, ESL programs, healthcare service, cultural centers, community organizations, workers collectives, and more.

Upon graduation students with a B.A in Women’s and Gender Studies will have gained the following skills, knowledge, and abilities:

  • Critical-Historical Awareness: Students will be adept at considering gender in diverse national and international contexts as a result of studying the multiple and contested meanings and roles of gender from a historical, a multidisciplinary, and a transnational perspective, and will have developed an understanding of how gender is related to other social categories such as race, ethnicity, social class, sexuality, religion, and nationality.
  • Interdisciplinary Content: Students will have acquired theoretical, methodological, and empirical perspectives for studying and critically analyzing the history, status, and experiences of women from diverse backgrounds.
  • Disciplinary Skills: Students will be skilled at integrating theory and practice and will be able to communicate effectively in both writing and speaking.
  • Practical Skills: Through independent learning or internships, students will be prepared to enter the workplace, graduate programs, and community-based volunteer work with an understanding of social justice issues informed by interdisciplinary scholarship and perspectives.
  • Leadership Skills: Students will continue in leadership roles that they have either begun or further developed while at Simmons.

By the time a student has completed the GCS program, they will have the following competencies.

Intellectual Engagement

  • Clearly articulate the core concepts, main themes, relevant literatures, and central figures in the fields of intersectional feminist studies and critical race studies
  • Evaluate, compare, and critique theories and methodologies of gender, race, sexuality, class, ability, and culture
  • Situate current realities of gender, sexuality, race, ability, class, and culture within broader, intersectional, historical and geopolitical contexts
  • Do graduate-level research, including articulating the main methodologies in students’ chosen fields and then applying those practices in their own work

Public Engagement

  • Locate themselves in key debates within the fields of feminist studies and critical race studies, taking a stand on issues and problems and offering solutions
  • Effectively communicate and publicize research-based, action-oriented inquiry
  • Engage in respectful, informed dialogue in public settings

Professional Engagement

  • Evidence in-depth understandings of a specific topic aligned with their future professional endeavors
  • Creatively problem solve, and communicate those solutions to wider publics using various mediums (writing, speaking, podcasts, videos, performances, workshops)
  • Produce convincing and directed articulations that illustrate the relationship between their master’s work and desired professional outcomes
Cover of 1980s era Simmons Magazine

Celebrating 50 Years of Africana Studies at Simmons

Learn about the history of Africana Studies, the work of its students and recent graduates, and explore oral histories of Black alums from the 1970s and 1980s.

50 Years of Africana Studies

Dawna Thomas speaking at podium

Dawna Thomas

Professor and Department Chair

Photo of Tatiana M.F. Cruz

Tatiana M.F. Cruz

Assistant Professor and Interdisciplinary Program Director of Africana Studies

Suzanne Leonard photo

Suzanne Leonard

Professor and Program Director for Gender and Cultural Studies

Department of Race, Gender, & Sexuality Studies in the News

Dr. Jennifer Herman, Professor Tatiana Cruz, Professor Kamille Gentles-Peart, and NEBHE President and CEO Dr. Michael Thomas at the International Women's Day Breakfast and Awards

Navigating the North Star: Assistant Professor Tatiana M.F. Cruz Receives Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice Award

The American Council on Education Women’s Network Massachusetts has recognized Tatiana M.F. Cruz, Assistant Professor and Interdisciplinary Program Director of Africana Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies, and her collaborator Dr. Kamille Gentles-Peart (Roger Williams University) for co-founding and directing the North Star Collective, a group of colleges and universities in New England that are committed to faculty racial equity.

Sex and the City Cast

Professor Suzanne Leonard Discusses “Sex and the City’s” Toxic Masculinity in Los Angeles Times

“Audiences [today] are much more aware of the dangers of toxic masculinity, and that doesn't read as sexy anymore. I think you have more sophisticated feminist viewers,” says Leonard.

Professor Janie Ward

Professor Emerita Janie Victoria Ward Co-Authors New Book on Mentoring Black Women

In her new book co-authored with Tracy L. Robinson-Wood, Sister Resisters: Mentoring Black Women on Campus (Cambridge: Harvard Education Press, 2022), Professor Janie Victoria Ward uncovers strategies of resistance that empower young women and their mentors. She and her co-author...

African American student in class

Assistant Professor Tatiana Cruz on the Value of Africana Studies for All

Africana Studies at Simmons is celebrating 50 years. Assistant Professor Tatiana Cruz sees it as a perfect complement to any major at Simmons, offering cultural insight that is invaluable for working in diverse communities. Tell us about Africana Studies at...

Mothers and children at the Mothers for Adequate Welfare (MAW) sit-in at the Roxbury Crossing welfare office

"Boston's Welfare Rights Movement" An Interview with Tatiana M.F. Cruz

Below is a conversation with historian Tatiana M.F. Cruz, Assistant Professor of Critical Race, Gender, and Cultural Studies and Interdisciplinary Program Director of Africana Studies at Simmons University. Talking with Taylor Eubanks, graduate student of Gender and Cultural Studies, Professor...

Simmons University Main College Building in the fall

Simmons Faculty Recognized for Innovative Teaching During the Pandemic

Simmons University received a $10,000 Presidential Grant through the Davis Education Foundation to fund a Post-Pandemic Innovative Teaching Award.

Headshots of Tatiana M.F. Cruz, PhD; Traci Griffith, JD; Kat Lombard-Cook, PhD; Nicholl Montgomery, MFA; Farooz Rather, PhD; and Asiel Sepúlveda, PhD

Simmons University’s Gwen Ifill College of Media, Arts, and Humanities Welcomes Six New Faculty Members

Cohort of talented faculty helps fulfill commitments to student success and faculty diversity.

Global War on Terrorism monument

The Global Racialization of Muslims: An Interview with Associate Professor Saher Selod

Sociology Professor Saher Selod discusses the latest chapter of her forthcoming book "21st Century Racism: The Racialization of Muslims Globally," which uncovers the processes of the global racialization of Muslims.