Assistant Professor George Hoagland was instrumental in developing the LGBTQ minor.
George Hoagland describes the new LGBTQ minor as “a marriage of true minds” because of its serendipitous beginning. She had the academic expertise in sexuality and gender focus, and her department had a new name-- "Women's Studies" became "Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies" in 2012. A need and a means were established and faculty members got to work, leaping over bureaucratic hurdles for two years until they reached the finish line, becoming the first university in Greater Minnesota to offer the program.
The recently approved LGBTQ minor will be offered at UMD beginning in the fall of 2015, and when classes start, its real impetus will come into focus. Beyond meeting the department's criteria and being a first, George explains that the strongest motivator was to demonstrate UMD’s commitment to an inclusive campus. “Offering the LGBTQ minor is a real indicator of what the campus climate is like,” she explains. “When these programs are available, it makes a statement that this is important to us.”
Junior Lee Hansen is listening carefully. With post-graduation plans to work as an advocate for women and girls, Lee is extraordinarily aware of the new minor's message, calling it ‘visible inclusion on an institutional level.’ Lee says that, as a queer student, UMD helped her on the individual level, but that the micro approach needs to expand into the macro, "The individual needs to make its way into the institution right now." UMD has a vibrant LGBTQ community, and that, says George, is the starting point for institutional changes, like adding the minor.
The timing's perfect for Lee, who’s pursuing a double major in Criminology and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. She says the LGBTQ minor is applicable to both her degree and to her life, “This sends the right message to queer students. If a group isn’t legitimized by an institution, even though we are very legitimate, then others are never going to see them as legitimate.”
The minor looks at the history, politics, and cultures of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex identities and perspectives. Offering this area of scholarship as a crossover with other humanities programs is essential, says George. "We tell students that you can be at UMD and have your interests met academically. It's crucial for universities to tap into what students need, and I think that UMD is really stepping up to the plate."
|Lee Hansen in the Queer and Allied Student Union|
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