Category Archives: Women & Gender Studies

Students, Staff, Faculty Experience World-Renowned Authors Thanks to Campus Partnership

This autumn, students from the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor and Flint campuses, and their surrounding communities, were fortunate to have two world-famous authors on hand to speak about their works and lives.

On Thursday, September 25th, and Friday, September 26th, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of Half of a Yellow Sun and Purple Hibiscus, spent time in Flint. Local students and teachers and members of the campus community were able to learn from her as she presented two lectures and a workshop over the two days. On Thursday, Adichie met and addressed teens from Flint-area schools as she discussed her love of reading, writing, and literature, talked about her recent works, and answered their questions. Later that afternoon, she did the same for attendees at the UM-Flint Theatre. The later audience held a large contingent of students and faculty from the Ann Arbor campus of the the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. They attended both at the invitation of and out of partnership with the UM-Flint Department of Africana Studies.


Chimamanda speaking to local teens at the Flint Public Library.

Ann Arbor at Lecture

Elizabeth James of U of M, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Dr. Ernest Emenyonu – Dept. Chair of UM-Flint’s Africana Studies Department

Adichie’s Friday was spent with area teachers and professors as the topic of teaching African literature was discussed.

Autograph w Erica  & B

Workshop participants were given a chance to have their books signed.

The second opportunity came on Wednesday, November 5th, when students from UM-Flint were invited to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor to hear Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, speak on her life and the world around us. In her gentle voice, Walker told stark truths about the nature of war and the failures of our political systems around the world. She reminded the audience to not be complacent about the things that matter to them. She reminded them that people, deemed good or bad by the media or popular opinion, are just people, and that having compassion and understanding for others is never a bad idea.


Hill Auditorium at the University of Michigan was filled nearly to capacity.


Alice Walker spoke about the importance of friendships – with other people, with countries, and with the earth itself.


Walker also read a number of poems to the audience including “Why Peace is Always a Good Idea.”

Tamasha Hart, a student at UM-Flint, said, “Alice Walker has an amazing spirit. Listening to her speak, made me feel very humbled and privileged. She made me realize that many times we have to step outside of ourselves and have an unbiased love and form of compassion in our hearts that  allows us to be kind to everyone. It was definitely an awesome and unforgettable experience for me. I was impressed.”

To learn more about UM-Flint’s Africana Studies Department, a driving force in bringing authors of this caliber to students and the community, visit their website.

CAS Welcomes Over 30 New Faculty for Fall Semester

The College of Arts and Sciences at UM-Flint started the Fall 2014 semester with over 30 new faculty members teaching in its classrooms. New faces will be seen in many departments including CSEP, English, Chemistry & Biochemistry, Earth & Resource Science, Psychology, Political Science, Anthropology, Theatre & Dance, and Foreign Language!

Throughout the semester, CAS will be featuring different new faculty members on our front page and in our blog so other members of the university can get to know them better! Be sure to welcome them to UM-Flint if you see them around!

Following is a list of our new faculty members and their departments:

• Amal Alhosban – Assistant Professor of Computer Science, CSEP
• Mark Allison – Assistant Professor of Computer Science, CSEP
• Emily Feuerherm – Assistant Professor of Linguistics, ENG
• Matthew Fhaner – Assistant Professor of Analytical Chemistry, CMB
• Seung-Jin Lee – Assistant Professor of Sustainability and Mechanical Engineering (ERS 67%, CSEP 33%)
• Ming Li – Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, CSEP
• Yu Cheng (Frank) Liu – Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, CSEP
• Nathaniel Miller – Assistant Professor of Psychology, PSY
• Jeremiah Olson – Assistant Professor of Political Science, POL
• Zahid Syed, CSEP –Assistant Professor of Computer Science, CSEP

• Adam Dill – Adjunct Professor in THE/DAN
• Cindy Liao – Adjunct Professor, PSY
• Dayne Walling – Adjunct Professor, POL

• Russ Cossaboom – Lec III BIO
• Stephanie Gelderloos – Lec III ENG
• Lisa Madden – Lec III PSY
• Jennifer Miller – Lec III BIO
• Roberto Rinaldi – Lec III PSY
• Kristy Watkins – Lec III WGS

• Ishtiague Amin – Lec I CSEP
• Scott Atkinson– Lec I ENG
• Anita Baxter – Lec I BIO
• Jed Digens – Lec I CSEP
• Gisele Farah – Lec I FOR
• Theresa Fedio – Lec I FOR
• Edward Hoort – Lec I MPA
• Nicholas Ginga – Lec I CSEP
• Laurah Klepinger-Mathew – Lec I ANT
• Robin McGuire – Lec I CSEP
• Mary Montie – Adjunct Lec PUB
• Joyce Piert – Lec I MTH
• Laurence Tarini – Lec I CSEP
• Delma Thomas-Jackson – Lec I for CAS

New 15-Credit WGS Certificate at UM-Flint

Beginning in Fall 2014, UM-Flint will be offering a 15-credit certification to demonstrate proficiency in Women’s and Gender Studies.

Students often report that they would like to complete the 21-credit WGS minor and that they have only two or three additional courses left to take, but that they simply do not have the time as they work to complete their major requirements and graduate in a timely manner. Students often do not “find” WGS until they are well along in their studies. Sometimes it takes a couple of courses before they realize they are interested and that a minor even exists. The large population of transfer students at UM-Flint contributes to this challenge. Because of their degree requirements, students in the professional schools may find it particularly difficult to complete a 21-credit minor. The option of a 15-credit certificate may allow them to fulfill many of their general education requirements while gaining knowledge that will strengthen their marketability and success in their chosen fields (e.g. social work, education, nursing and other health professions, business, etc.).

This certificate will help students connect ideas and themes across disciplines, deepen their understanding of inequalities, and consider issues of social justice. A student’s transcripts will indicate successful completion of this certificate, which will help potential employers understand a student’s claim that she or he has knowledge of diversity issues without having to read their full transcript. In order to be financial aid eligible this certificate must be completed in conjunction with a Bachelor’s degree. It cannot be completed as a stand-alone program.

At its core this certificate is student centered. Our goal is to provide the flexibility for students to pursue their educational desires and to provide them with an advantage as they pursue careers or graduate school.

WGS courses include classes from Philosophy, Africana Studies, Sociology, Anthropology, Political Science, History, and more. The program prepares students to become knowledgeable about and conscious of women’s lives and gender processes as they pursue jobs and careers, as they move through their life course, as they further their studies at postgraduate levels, and as they work to become active and socially responsible participants and leaders in their communities.

To learn more, visit, call 810.762.3044, or email Director Heather Laube at

UM-Flint Student Receives Grant for Theatre-Based Workshops with Area Youth

This spring, UM-Flint student Ella Thorp, a Criminal Justice major and Women & Gender Studies minor, received a New Leaders grant from the Michigan Council on Arts and Cultural Affairs to develop and implement gender-based theatre workshops for young women detained at Genesee County’s youth detention facility (GVRC). These workshops are part of the Buckham/GVRC Share Art Project, led by UM-Flint faculty members Shelley Spivack of CRJ and WGS, and Traci Currie from Communications. The Share Art Project also includes weekly visual arts and theatre workshops for young men at the facility.

When asked about doing this kind of work as an undergrad, Ella said, “[It] has been incredibly life changing. I’m working harder in school and in everyday life to make sure the kids I have the opportunity to work with have the best me possible. I want to take the opportunities I have been given throughout my life and give back to my community in every single way possible, and this is the capacity that fits me and my personality. I don’t know that I would’ve been given the chance to participate in the Buckham/GVRC Share Art project if I hadn’t been a student at UM-Flint.”

Ella’s workshops take place every other week, alternating with another for Spoken Word. Through traditional theatre exercises that help actors develop elocution, posture, and projection, Ella is helping her charges find much more than a way to be heard from stage. With these games the girls are building self-esteem, finding their voices, and learning how to positively represent themselves to others.

Says Ella, “While designing the class, I wanted to make sure each activity, exercise, and story told would teach a number of things, the most important thing being confidence in themselves.”

On Monday, July 14th, Ella, joined by fellow CRJ undergrad Cakhilah Durden, graduate student Colette Legault-Fields, and UM-Flint Theatre alum Sarah Jarrett, arrived at GVRC to teach that week’s workshop. The building, which houses juveniles from 10-17 years old, is reminiscent of a middle school in spite of its security doors and cameras. After being buzzed in, and then signing in, they began setting up for that evening’s activities: putting out an easel with a dry-erase board, setting out large sheets of paper, a giant box of markers, and pushing back tables to create an open space in the center of the room. The theme of the week was “Happiness.”

Nine girls arrived just after 5:30p.m. They shuffled in and took seats at the tables, a few eager to be there and others seemingly reluctant.

The exercises for the evening began with a “circle of encouragement” where the girls each gave a little inspiration to everyone else in the room:
“I encourage you to step out of your shell… because no one here is going to judge you.”
“I encourage you to have an open mind.”
“I encourage everyone to do good… to have fun… to keep smiling… to be happy.”

Still standing in the circle, the girls started warm up games. When one sat down before the last exercise, the rest automatically adjusted the circle to still include her. And they made sure she participated. The games had them laughing, but they were also speaking up, enunciating, and making eye contact.

Next the girls moved on to more individually focused games. They played charades, and more lessons on eye contact, posture, and body language were intertwined with acting out driving a car, making a sandwich, or playing a sport. Again, they moved from reluctance to vying to be the next to go, or to have a third or fourth turn.

“I want the hardest one.”
“I think I’m good.”
“Oh yeah, I got this.”
For the last activity of the night, the girls were given large sheets of paper and markers. They were directed to write down a story about something that made them happy and then stand in front of the group to talk about it, leaving their papers with Ella in case they needed a prompt.

As each girl took her place at the front of the room she was asked to plant her feet, puff out her chest, and articulate clearly. They were proud of their stories; many wanted to have their illustrations displayed after they talked. The happy memories poured forth:

A surprise movie with mom…
Getting a puppy for Christmas…
A hopeful letter from family…

They spoke of cell phones and candy, favorite foods and being with their friends. They spoke of feeling safe, and having a second chance. They spoke about freedom.

Once all the papers were collected and all the stories told, and after some got up to tell additional stories, it was time to wrap up the evening.

When asked what they had learned that day, they recounted the importance of how you look at people, how you stand when you talk. One girl answered, “the way you present yourself tells people how you feel about what you’re saying.”

As they lined up to leave the room, the girls were standing straighter than when they entered, and as they exited, waving goodbye, there were smiles on their faces.

Ella and her fellow leaders were smiling, too.

To learn more about the Share Art Project, listen to an interview of Shelley Spivack by Michigan Radio.

A book by Jill Rosenbaum and Shelley Spivack, Implementing a Gender-Based Arts Program for Juvenile Offenders, is available through Anderson Publishing.