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Gender studies in Wageningen University

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We, the undersigned, are concerned by the close of the BSc minor GENDER ASPECTS OF SUSTAINABLE FOOD SYSTEMS (WUGAS) and the impacts this will have on the already limited gender education available at Wageningen, including the discontinuation of:


Rural Gender Studies (SCH-50406)
Food Heritage and History: Gender, Food and Cultural Heritage Governance (SCH-51806)


The above courses are unique at WUR in that they bring together gender, economic, political, social and cultural aspect within a primary focus of WUR: sustainable food systems. While we have always wondered why gender studies and their intersection with other domains are under represented in WUR curriculum and academic appointments, it is seriously concerning to hear about the new regressive changes in gender studies at WUR.


Students entering today’s job market are handicapped if they do not have specific academic instruction in gender studies and its intersection with other domains whose consideration change how students frame the challenges they will face in their professional lives. It is not enough to have technical courses in which gender is partially integrated. This attempt at ‘mainstreaming gender’ has failed. Adding gender to a technical course makes ‘gender’ nothing more than one aspect of a technical problem. The history of food production has shown that is it not possible to fully address core questions such as sustainability and social justice without considering gender and other domains with which it intersects as primary categories of analysis.


WUR declares itself to be an institution at the forefront of global education in sustainable, equitable food and living environments. This commitment is not possible to achieve unless WU not only allows, but demonstrates the relevance of and encourages, their students to take courses that force them to reconsider how they understand the challenges they will confront. Gender studies are an essential aspect of this introspection as gender is fundamental to understanding food production systems, food security and food sovereignty.
Given the fundamental significance of gender studies to WUR’s declared domain of primary competence, we ask:


1. why has WUR declared the minor in Gender Studies to be a failure rather than recognize that low enrolment in this minor is proof positive that WUR persists in its failure to recognize the importance of gender studies?


2. given that gender must be a primary category of analysis, how will WUR ensure that students graduate with an understanding of the inter-relationships between gender, society, water, food systems, and sustainability that is adequate for the challenges they will face in their professional careers?



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