Mission and History

Mission Statement

The Consortium for Graduate Studies in Gender, Culture, Women, and Sexuality (the GCWS) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology brings together feminist scholars and teachers at nine Boston area institutions, who are devoted to graduate teaching and research in women's studies and to advancing interdisciplinary women's studies scholarship.

Our mission is to advance the field of Women's Studies. For the twenty-first century, Women's Studies needs to develop new scholarship and theory across disciplines and attend to the integration of theory and practice as well as pedagogical innovations. A new Women's Studies agenda must address the shifting global context of women's social and economic lives, the effects of poverty and war, the implications of technology and a deteriorating environment, and the interconnected dynamics of race, class, sex, gender and power across cultures.

In pursuit of this mission, the Consortium for Graduate Studies in Gender, Culture, Women, and Sexuality provides graduate courses; promotes faculty development; builds intellectual community; and offers a model of institutional change.


The GCWS (until 2016 named the Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies) was founded in 1992 by feminist faculty from six Boston-area doctoral-degree-granting institutions, with the cooperation of President Linda Wilson at Radcliffe College. Current participating institutions are Boston College,  Boston University, Brandeis University, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northeastern University, Simmons College, Tufts University, and UMass Boston. These institutions have endorsed the consortial operation and have agreed in principle for their faculty and students to participate, including mechanisms for credit transfer at most institutions.

The GCWS offered its first seminar in spring 1993. Since then, it has offered many different seminars to over 400 graduate students from all the participating institutions. In 1996 (the third year of operation), a team of prominent women's studies faculty evaluated the Consortium program, deeming it "an outstanding enterprise and a truly unique inter-institutional experiment." Participating institutions signed a 5-year Memoranda of Agreement in 1993, 1998, 2003, 2005, and 2010.  The first Memorandum was initiated in 1993, in effect until 1998.  The GCWS expanded its membership in 2004 to include Simmons College and the University of Massachusetts Boston.   In 2005 the Consortium moved to its current institutional home, MIT, and Boston University became the ninth member institution in 2006.  

In 2016 the GCWS changed its name from The Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies to the Consortium for Graduate Studies in Gender, Culture, Women, and Sexuality, retaining its previous abbreviated name: the GCWS.

Next Steps

Course List

Contact Us

The Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 14N-211
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
Phone: 617-324-2085