Intercollegiate Women’s Studies of the Claremont Colleges is a coordinating program that supports the individual colleges in the Claremont consortium and the colleges’ Women’s Studies programs. It was designed to bring together the Women’s Studies resources of the Claremont consortium, to build the Women’s Studies community, to promote Women’s Studies, and to produce programs for all of the colleges. IWS provides support and programming that no individual department or program could provide. It oversees a rich Women’s Studies curriculum and provides a unifying function, providing and enhancing opportunities for collaboration across the colleges and maximizing the benefits of the consortium for the individual Women’s Studies programs and participants. This is especially important for an interdisciplinary field like Women’s Studies, where contributing faculty members have departmental commitments that can make participation in Women’s Studies even at their home institutions a challenge. IWS also builds connections to the larger community, and in recent years, has focused on feminist activism in developing its programs.
IWS has an administrative coordinator and is governed by intercollegiate committees. IWS is not structured as a department. The decision was made early on to leave hiring and personnel decisions and determination of major/minor program requirements to the individual colleges. Although Priority 1 of IWS’ 1998 Long Range Plan was to seek departmental status (based on the recommendation of external reviewers), after much discussion and investigation, the IWS Coordinating Committee decided not to seek that change and to rather focus energy on the development of a Teaching & Research Center. The undergraduate colleges continue to offer their own major and minor programs (although some discussion has occurred recently about the possibility of an intercollegiate major), and Women’s Studies faculty appointments are made at the individual colleges.
Intercollegiate Women’s Studies’ major functions include overseeing and developing the Women’s Studies curriculum at the colleges and publishing Women’s Studies course information, sponsoring Women’s Studies events and programs (including social events to raise awareness of Women’s Studies and build community), maintaining a book and film library, supporting student activities and events, distributing information about Women’s Studies-related events and opportunities to its student, faculty, and community e-mail lists (both IWS-initiated and on request from individuals), answering inquiries from individuals and directing relevant information to individuals, providing financial co-sponsorship for Women’s Studies-related events at the colleges and assistingprograms with producing events (including locating sponsors), and building connections with the community to support and engage in social justice work. IWS supports the individual Women’s Studies programs at the colleges in a variety of ways, including managing the Women’s Studies curriculum, co-sponsoring and publicizing events produced by the individual programs, providing and distributing information as requested, etc. Once each semester, IWS publishes a newsletter that is sent to students and faculty on the IWS mailing list and off campus subscribers. The newsletters include information about IWS events and programs, faculty and student news and activities, Women’s Studies-related events at the colleges, etc.
Scripps College has historically served as the “lead college” for Intercollegiate Women’s Studies, and IWS is located on the Scripps campus. The Coordinator reports to the Scripps Dean of Faculty. Funding for IWS is provided by all of the undergraduate colleges and Claremont Graduate University; the budget is approved by the Academic Deans Council. Because Scripps is the lead college for IWS, the Scripps Dean of Faculty has also been generous with financial support for IWS events and programs. IWS also often works with Scripps programs and offices to co-sponsor events.
IWS has provided a strong model for consortial collaboration and coordination of resources for interdisciplinary programs. In the last few years, two other intercollegiate programs have been developed using the IWS structure as a model, with similar governance and a similar coordinator position (Intercollegiate Media Studies and Intercollegiate Neuroscience). An intercollegiate program in environmental studies based on this model is currently in the planning stages. Coordinators of these programs meet to discuss and share insights on governance, programming, development, and other issues.