University News

Queer Studies Minor Offered at WIU

August 18, 2015

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MACOMB, IL -- The field of queer studies is growing in importance nationwide, and to keep up with demands of academic programming that supports sex and gender diversity, Western Illinois University will begin offering a minor in queer studies beginning this fall.

According to Merrill Cole, WIU English professor and creator of the minor, while the University has been a pioneer in offering benefits to same-sex couples and fostering a supportive campus climate for sex and gender diverse students, faculty and staff, Western lags behind peer institutions in providing academic programs in queer studies. Working with the University Committee on Sexual Orientation Gender Identity and Expression (UCOSOGIE), Cole and the committee created the 16-hour minor, which was approved by Faculty Senate and the Provost in Spring 2015.

Classes included in the minor are those that already exist within English, sociology, psychology, foreign languages and women's studies. Two new queer studies classes were developed by UCOSOGIE faculty members as core courses.

"The establishment of this interdisciplinary minor allows Western to better serve its LGBTQ students, faculty and staff, as well as heterosexual allies and anyone interested in this field," Cole added. "This minor also services as a wonderful recruitment tool to further strengthen the University's LGBTQ community."

According to the College Equality Index (May 2014), there are currently 92 LGBTQ/sexuality/sexualities undergraduate majors, minors, certificates and concentrations in the U.S., including 62 minors. The only other public university in the state to offer a queer/sexuality studies minor is the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

"In Spring 2015, there were nine students enrolled in the experimental course, 'Introduction to Queer Studies,' and we have had numerous students express an interest in the minor," Cole noted. "Data from a 2009 student survey, and a follow-up inquiry in 2015, indicates a substantial number of students are interested in this minor and the courses available."

For more information on the minor in queer studies, contact Cole at or the Department of English at (309) 298-1103.

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