GEND 1006 Syllabus

Introduction to Gender, Power and Justice

Mondays 12:30-3:20

What is power and how does it connect with issues of social justice and equality? Do gender, race, sexuality, class, disability and historical legacies such as colonization and slavery still impact the quality of our lives today? Why is it so hard to see the operations of power in our everyday lives or within democratic societies? Can understanding power inform our strategies for social justice and change? What can we learn from past social justice movements? This course introduces students to the foundations of thinking critically about power as it relates to Gender Equality and Social Justice in our individual, local and global worlds.

Instructor: Dr. Wendy Peters
Office: A310 (above the small cafeteria)
Phone:474-3450 ext. 4889
Office hours: Mondays 3:30-4:30 – or by appointment

Texts: Course reader available at Print Plus.

Marking scheme

Attendance & participation   10%   Attendance will be taken weekly

3 Assignments @ 10% each   30%   Due various dates in class – check syllabus

Midterm test   30%   In class, February 27 2017

Exam   30%   Exam period

Assignments are due in class and will not be accepted afterwards. Unless class is cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances (e.g. weather), assignments will not be accepted by email.

Punctual and regular attendance is essential for the successful completion of a course. According to the Nipissing University attendance policy, when absenteeism exceeds 20% the student may be excluded from writing the final examination.

All term work must be submitted by: April 7, 2017, no exceptions 


By the end of the course students will be able to:

  1. Describe the key social justice and equality movements in the West, particularly over the 20th century
  2. Understand and use an intersectional approach/methodology in their written and oral analyses of injustice and inequality
  3. Clearly articulate to a lay person how the central identity categories of sex, gender, race, class and sexuality continue to operate to mediate power and privilege across global and local contexts
  4. Begin to apply the conceptual and theoretical lexicon of the discipline to ‘real world’ examples of injustice and inequality.
  5. Write an argument based research essay on a theme in the course which demonstrates acquired knowledge rather than either so called common sense or received ‘wisdom’


Successful graduates of this course will demonstrate:

  1. Confidence in asserting scholarly research based knowledge, rather than opinion, of key social justice issues, both historical and contemporary.
  2. A felicity with the conceptual and theoretical language that characterizes the discipline.
  3. A modest understanding of the way power informs privilege and opportunity
  4. A promising ability to engage in reasoned, informed debate and analysis of what are often highly emotive and contentious issues.

Students with a range of learning styles and needs are welcome in this course. In particular, if you have a disability / health consideration that may require accommodations, please contact the Disability Services Office as soon as possible. The staff are available by appointment to assess specific needs, provide referrals and arrange appropriate accommodations at ext. 4331. The sooner you let us know your needs the quicker we can assist you in achieving your learning goals in this course.

Students are permitted to use laptop computers only for taking notes from the lectures. Playing games, surfing the internet, checking e-mail, instant messaging, watching videos or listening to music are not permitted during class time. If you are disrupting other students with this kind of laptop activity, you will be asked to turn off your laptop. 

January 9 2017
Introduction and welcome


January 16 2017
Equality and Social Justice: Definitions, Perspectives & Examples

Bell, L.A. (1997). Theoretical foundations for social justice education. In Adams, M., Bell, L.A. & Griffin, P. (Eds). Teaching for diversity and social justice: A sourcebook (pp. 1-14). New York, NY: Routledge.

Watch Jim Gates’ story “Go Tell It On The Mountain” here:

Guest speaker: Dr. Sal Renshaw will drop in from 2:20-3:20 to run us through an exercise related to the readings and involving the film Crash.

Oh, ALSO: 25 grade 12 students from Chippewa will be joining our class today from 12:30 until 2:00. Be excellent.


January 23 2017
Focus on Early Feminism: Appeals for Women’s Rights and Civil Rights in the 1800s

These articles present the same moment in time from very different perspectives. Try to piece together a coherent picture of the various players including white women, black men, black women and white men.

Stanton, E.C. (1995). Declaration of Sentiments (pp. 460-462). In Ruth, S. (Ed.) Issues in Feminism, 4th edition. Toronto: Mayfield.

Douglass, F. (2000). The Rights of Women (pp. 207-209). In Ashton-Jones, E., Olson, G.A. & Perry, M.G. (Eds.) Gender Reader. Toronto: Longman.

Truth, S (2000). Ain’t I a Woman? (pp. 463-464). In Ashton-Jones, E., Olson, G.A. & Perry, M.G. (Eds.) Gender Reader. Toronto: Longman.

hooks, b. (2000). Racism and Feminism (pp. 275-286). In Ashton-Jones, E., Olson, G.A. & Perry, M.G. (Eds.) Gender Reader. Toronto: Longman.


January 30 2017
Social Justice and Families

Seager, J. (2009). Unpaid Work (pp. 70-71). In The Penguin Atlas of Women in the World. New York, NY: Penguin Books.

Read online:

Das Gupta, T. (1995). Families of Native Peoples, immigrants, and people of colour (pp. 141-169). In Mandell, N. & Duffy, A. (Eds.) Canadian families. Toronto, ON: Harcourt Brace.

February 6 2017
“Our home and Native Land”: Colonialism, families & the Indian Act

Downe, P.J. (2005). Excerpts from the Indian Act of Canada (pp. 103-106). In Biggs, L. & Downe, P. (Eds.) Gendered intersections: An introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies. Halifax, NS: Fernwood Publishing.

Hunter, A. (2005). For and by men: Colony, gender and Aboriginal self-government (pp. 107-111). In Biggs, L. & Downe, P. (Eds.) Gendered intersections: An introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies. Halifax, NS: Fernwood Publishing.

Barker, B. & McCreary, T. (March/April 2008). Sharon McIvor’s fight for gender equality in the Indian Act. Read online:

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (2011). Gender Equity in the Indian Registration Act. Read online:

Assignment 1
CBC Interview with Dr. Pam Palmater:
Listen to the audio:
AND watch “Child Welfare Unfair to First Nations” interview with Dr. Pam Palmater on The Agenda with Steve Paiken, TVO. 29 Jan 2016.

  1. What impact has losing (and regaining) Indian status had for Indigenous women and their children, both male and female?  What impact has it had on First Nations communities?
  2. How do current and historical practices of the Federal Child and Family Services impact Indigenous families? What other systemic oppression can this be connected to?
  3. What is the government’s goal of “purposeful, chronic underfunding” of First Nations child welfare, according to Dr. Pam Palmater?


February 13 2017
Violence against women: From domestic abuse to structural violence

Fact Sheet on Violence against Women from Canadian Women’s Foundation. Read online:

Vickers, J. (2002). Thinking about violence (pp. 222-246). In Dhuruvarajan, V. & Vickers, J. (Eds.) Gender, race and nation: A global perspective. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto.

Watch the video and read the article:

Guest speaker: Dr. Leslie Thielen-Wilson from 2:05-3:20

Assignment 2
CBC, ReVision Quest. July 27, 2011. 28 minutes. Listen at: or (same audio, different link)

  1.  In August 2014, after 15-year old Tina Fontaine’s body was found in the Red River in Winnipeg, the Prime Minister stated that cases of missing and murdered indigenous women should be viewed as crimes and not as “sociological phenomenon” (see the Star video and article above). Please identify and explain at least two examples or quotes from your reading and/or the podcast that would suggest otherwise. What sorts of intersections are at work in your examples?
  2. Draw one substantive connection —as in not superficial—between Vickers and the content of the podcast. A superficial connection is that both deal with violence. A substantive connection draws out a concept from Vickers, like the notion of “innocent” and “guilty” victims of violence, and then demonstrates how the podcast provides examples of these “common sense” beliefs.
  3. Find and read at least one newspaper article on the planned Public Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous women. Do you think this inquiry is a step in the right direction and why or why not?

February 20 2017
Reading Week – no office hours

February 27 2017
Midterm Test in Class

March 6 2017
Introducing Human Rights and Structural Violence

Farmer, P. (2005). On Suffering and Structural Violence: Social and Economic Rights in the Global Era. In Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor. (pp. 29-50). Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

In-class screening: Hi –Ho Mistahey! (if available)

REMEMBER: This is International Women’s Week! Attend the keynote for bonus marks in my heart. 


March 13 2017
Fixing Sex / Sexing Bodies

 Guest Speaker: Dr. Sal Renshaw

Newman, Z. (2012). Bodies, Genders, Sexualities: Counting Past Two. In Deborah Brock, Rebecca Raby, and Mark P. Thomas, eds., Power and Everyday Practices (61-85). Toronto, ON: Nelson.

Listen to: Sex testing for elite female athletes (24 minutes). Stream at Click the “play” button beneath the image.

Jordan-Young, R. & Karkazis, K. (June 17, 2012). You say you’re a woman? That should be enough. New York Times. Read online:

Assignment 3
Sex testing for elite female athletes (24 minutes). Listen via the link above.

  1. “What does it mean to say that gender is socially constructed? What does it mean to say that gender is performative?” (Newman, 2012, 81).
  2. Using this framework for thinking about gender, why did people question Caster Semenya’s sex? Be sure to distinguish between sex and gender.
  3. According to Newman, how are “the social constructions of binary gender, heterosexuality, and whiteness intertwined”? (Newman, 2012, 81).

March 20 2017
Nature/Nurture: Sex/Gender Differences in Science and Pop Culture

Dr. Sal Renshaw will join us today to discuss the material presented in “The Gender Trap.” Come prepared to discuss and debate the content of the podcasts.

This week, you be listening to two podcasts instead of reading articles. Take notes and come prepared to discuss: the biological foundations of sex differences; sex difference research as presented in popular culture; neuroplasticity and gender differences; Kathy Witterick and David Stocker’s decision not to share Storm’s sex with more than nine people in their lives; and the media “storm” that followed.

“The Gender Trap, part 1,” CBC Radio’s Ideas, aired May 14, 2012, 55 minutes

If you have problems with the link above try:

“The Gender Trap, part 2,” CBC Radio’s Ideas, aired August 1, 2012, 55 minutes

In-class screening: Put This On the Map (2011), DVD, (34 minutes), Harris Learning Library TEMP 2295


March 27 2017
What’s in a label? The gender politics of global production

Garwood, S. (2002). Working to Death: Gender, labour, and violence in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Peace, Conflict, Development: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 2 (December): 1-23.  Read online at:

Required listening: “Love, Betrayal and the Planet Money t-shirt,” Planet Money, aired November 20, 2013, 22 minutes. Listen at: (Click on the play button—top left)

Stillman, S. (2013). Death Traps: The Bangladeshi garment-factory disaster. The New Yorker. Read online:

Allchin, J. (2013). Death Mill: How the ready-made garment industry captured the Bangladeshi state. Foreign Policy. Read online:

In class screening: On the edge: The femicide in Ciudad Juárez (2006), DVD, 58 minutes, Harris Learning Library TEMP 2376

Assignment 4
“Love, Betrayal and the Planet Money t-shirt.” Listen above.

  1. What was the sisters’ home life like growing up and how has garment work changed their family’s life?
  2. How are the sisters’ lives different from each other and what role did factory work play in creating these differences?
  3. Reflect on the difficult tensions between the New Yorker and Foreign Policy articles on the dangers of working in these factories and the relative benefits that can be gained from working in them. 

April 3 2017
Global Politics: Women, tourism and trafficking

Enloe, C. (1990 / 2006). On the beach: Sexism and tourism (pp. 388-395). In Grewal, I. & Kaplan, C. (Eds.) An introduction to Women’s Studies: Gender in a transnational world. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Bale, K. (2002). Because she looks like a child. In B. Ehrenreich and A. Russell Hochschild, (207-229). Global Woman: Nannies, Maids and Sex Workers in the Global Economy New York: Holt Paperbacks.

In class screening: Hope in Heaven, DVD, 43 minutes, Harris Learning Library Call # TEMP 1476.

Assignment descriptions

Participation and attendance 10%
Your mark will be based on your attendance and participation in lectures. Regular attendance is essential. Late entries as well as early exits are disruptive, and often result in missing important information. Participation includes, but is not limited to, contributing one’s own insights or ideas to class. It also entails respectful listening and, ideally, a commitment to involving others in the learning process. You are expected to come to class prepared to discuss the day’s readings. Verbal participation in class should be relevant and connected to the readings for the week.

3 assignments @ 10% each = 30%
Throughout the term, you will be assigned a series of questions along with the readings. You are required to complete three of these assignments (out of a selection of four) over the course of the term. Listen to the podcasts and / or watch the videos online and come to class prepared with your written responses (2 double-spaced pages; please don’t bother with a title page or bibliography). Assignment questions are in the syllabus. You will be assigned a grade for the thoughtfulness of your engagement and the quality of your writing style. I will be looking to see if your comments demonstrate an understanding of the readings and that you can apply what you have learned in relation to examples. When quoting the course readings, use quotation marks and provide an in-text citation. For example: Vickers (2002) writes, “When we look through a gender lens, the focus is mainly on male violence against women and children in intimate relationships” (129). A good citation usually includes: one mention of the author (not two); no mention of the article / book / chapter title; year of publication; and a page number for a direct quotation.

Mid term test – February 27 2017 in class 30%
The mid term test will take place in class. You will have the entire class time to write, although you should expect it to take about 1.5 hours to complete. The questions will be based on the content of the lectures, films and readings prior to the Reading Week. Questions will include short answer, definitions, and fill in the blank.

Exam 30%
To be held during the official examination period, the final exam will cover all the materials – readings, screenings, films, lectures and discussions for the year.

Important notes for written assignments:

– Please include your name and always keep a copy of your paper in print or computer file.

– All assignments must be double-spaced, in 12 point font (not a fancy font please), with 1 inch margins and page numbers.

– All assignments should be submitted in the lecture period.

– Assignments will not be accepted over email.

– Late papers will only be accepted with prior consent of instructor

Writing tips for written assignments

– Avoid overly general sentences; state your intentions concisely and engagingly.

– Support or illustrate your assertions; be as specific and precise as possible.

– Quoted materials (see “plagiarism” below) belong in quotation marks and a page number should be supplied. See syllabus for complete references for readings in the course reader. Use a style guide for references and be consistent. Ideas or passages that are paraphrased (written in your own words) also need to be referenced.

– Avoid over-use of quoted materials. Passages that are quoted need to be contextualized and require comments that directly forward your own argument.

– You may use the word “I” in your work for this class.

– Avoid errors of spelling, grammar and punctuation.

– Remember to proofread your assignments. You can lose as much as a full letter grade–possibly even more–by forgetting to proofread and make final revisions. Ideally, a final draft would be looked over by a writing lab.

Academic Integrity

Plagiarism and academic dishonesty are serious offences. It is your responsibility to be familiar with Nipissing’s policies on academic dishonesty. Please make yourself familiar, here:

Any instances of students plagiarizing or cheating will be dealt with according to this policy.

Statement of what grades mean:

“80-100% indicates EXCEPTIONAL PERFORMANCE: comprehensive in-depth knowledge of the principles and materials treated in the course, fluency in communicating that knowledge and independence in applying material and principles.

70-79% indicates GOOD PERFORMANCE: thorough understanding of the breadth of materials and principles treated in the course and ability to apply and communicate that understanding effectively.

60-69% indicates SATISFACTORY PERFORMANCE: basic understanding of the breadth of principles and material treated in the course and an ability to apply and communicate that understanding competently.

50-59% indicates MINIMALLY COMPETENT PERFORMANCE: adequate understanding of most principles and materials treated in the course, but with significant weakness in some areas and in the ability to apply and communicate that understanding.

0- 49% indicates FAILURE: inadequate or fragmentary knowledge of the principles and materials treated in the course or a failure to complete the work required in the course”

(Faculty handbook, “Final Grades:”