Why You Should Take GWS103

With thousands of courses offered at UW-Madison, it can often feel overwhelming trying to build your schedule, especially as an underclassmen who may not fully know what they want to pursue yet. I’m here to give you 7 reasons why I recommend Gender and Womens’ Studies 103, a class you may not have thought of, to everyone.

1. Open and accepting learning environment

The class is extremely open, welcoming, and comfortable. We had class discussions about topics I’d never discussed even with people close to me, but here I was with 20 strangers all having an open dialogue which is such a breath of fresh air. Also, as a female it was so nice being in a class that was mostly girls! (But guys, don’t be discouraged- it’s all information you should know too.)

2. Instructors that- wait for it- actually care about your learning

When I took this class last semester, our first exam had a pretty low class average. We all felt the material was unlike class material, lots of obscure reading questions, etc. This certainly wasn’t the first time I’d been in a class that got a low test average, but it was the first time the professor took responsibility & took action- we got a test drop, the exam was curved largely, and readings were reduced. She valued our learning over her own methods- and that is rare.

3.Large class with small instruction

It is a large lecture with a few hundred students, which I know many people struggle in that learning environment. However, there is a weekly discussion format which is so helpful if you dislike large classes. We built on lecture material, studied for exams and projects, and did supplemental activities that improved our large lecture experience.

4.Unique but important subject matter

Personally I had never been exposed to or learned that much about LGBTQ people, medical discrimination based on race and gender, or the oppression of women, mostly women of color, in America. As a woman it was often hard to learn about all of these things because it was sad or it was confusing, but at the end of the day it is so important to be exposed to new information and education and be aware of all issues in the world- even ones you are unfamiliar with.

5.It’s important to be uncomfortable in the classroom

Similar to #4, many people feel uncomfortable with certain topics on anatomy, LGBTQ people, trans/intersex people, or even simply seeing imagery of sexual anatomy. I believe it’s important and beneficial to be exposed to things that make you uncomfortable because that’s how we learn- and especially for these topics- it’s important to gain empathy and awareness.

6.Flexible grading policies

Every graded aspect from attendance to exams is flexible. Refer back to #2, we were allowed one drop of an exam grade and one drop of a written assignment grade- important because we all deal with bad grades and it’s nice to know your grade won’t be ruined forever. Attendance was also very flexible, we were allowed multiple absences and could do unlimited attendance makeups for section. Everyone is busy during college in their own ways so it’s so important to find a class that you can work around if needed.

7.Biology Credit

One of the main reasons I discovered this class was because it fulfilled a science credit. As a humanities major I spent a lot of time on the hunt for a science credit that wasn’t too science-y, because something typical like biology or math or physics sounded daunting to me. I think it’s an awesome science for non-science majors class!

With all of this being said, I think it’s obvious that I recommend GWS103 to everyone. It’s a flexible class with instructors who truly care in an open environment that teaches important info- and it’s a great bio credit if you don’t want to pursue science. It’s not taught this fall, but definitely add it to your list!

Class info: https://gws.wisc.edu/documents/genws-103-womens-bodies-in-health-and-disease/

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