For Students

How to Propose a Course to the GCWS

The Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies seeks proposals for courses that extend and enhance the course offerings available to graduate students enrolled at member institutions and provide faculty with a unique opportunity for professional growth. Faculty submitting proposals to lead the Workshop for Dissertation Writers in Women's and Gender Studies should skip to the end of this document for specific guidelines.

Courses offered through the Consortium allow faculty and graduate students to pursue new directions in feminist teaching and learning. The Consortium seeks topics and syllabi that break new, interdisciplinary ground rather than simply summarize, analyze, and present the latest research. Courses are team-taught, by faculty trained in different disciplines and affiliated with at least two different member institutions. Each course will have different priorities and apply different approaches. Though, when designing courses, faculty should keep the following goals in mind:

A. An explicit consideration of how interdisciplinary inquiry puts pressure on what counts as knowledge in individual disciplinary orientations;

B. Systematic attention to intersections of race, class, and culture with gender as categories of analysis;

C. Social and cross-cultural dimensions that ground both the concrete issues and the theory addressed in the course; and

D. Attention to the implications of theory, practice, and/or policy implications of the material. In addition, courses should be designed to explore disciplinary and/or methodological conditions of knowledge.

Consortium courses bring together graduate students from a diversity of institutional and programmatic contexts. The typical class is comprised of about half Masters level students and half at the Ph.D. level with uneven preparation in Women's and Gender Studies.

Undergraduate students with appropriate preparation related to a course may also apply and are admitted at the discretion of the instructor team. In addition, and with the consent of Consortium staff, instructors may post any reasonable pre-requisites as part of the publicized course description.


All of the above considerations are criteria for the selection of courses and should be used by faculty teams submitting proposals as guides in the design and teaching of courses.

Proposals should demonstrate how courses address the aforementioned in ways appropriate to their subject matter.

To begin, please submit a Statement of Interest Form. Once you have identified a teaching partner(s), you may begin putting together a formal course proposal.
Proposals should include the following:

  1. Course objectives and narrative description;
  2. Outline of course with major themes and topics to be covered during the thirteen-week course [this need not be a full syllabus];
  3. Bibliography of the major texts that will be read;
  4. C.V. for each participating faculty member;
  5. Notice of whether each faculty member will teach the course on-load or as an overload. [Faculty must negotiate this arrangement with their department chair or Dean at their home institution];
  6. A list of year and semester preferences and alternatives;
  7. GCWS courses are normally open to MA and PhD students [advanced undergraduates may be admitted under special circumstances]. There is an application process for admission to all courses -- teaching teams will review the applications to select students for their courses. If there are particular expectations regarding student eligibility, please note this in the course proposal.

The description should specify the questions that the course will address, the disciplines represented by the participating faculty, and the ways in which your approach will be intellectually innovative and reflect the rubrics outlined above. Faculty should also spell out how each instructor will divide and share responsibilities. The week-by-week agenda need not be highly specific at this point, but it should make clear the logical progression and organizational materials of the course. They are asked to detail any requirements beyond the predictable: special equipment or a field experience component, for example. Course material, excluding c.v.'s, should not exceed six pages.

GCWS Course Syllabi

After course proposals are submitted and approved, faculty teams move on to the second stage in the course development process, creating a syllabus. For examples of syllabi from past GCWS courses, contact us at Teaching teams that are expanding their course proposals in to full syllabi are encouraged to look at these examples.

Faculty Relationship Development

Teaching teams are comprised of faculty from different institutions and different disciplines. Please see "How to Form a Teaching Team". The GCWS can assist you in finding a teaching partner(s). Please contact the GCWS to discuss possibilities.

Assessment for GCWS Courses

Faculty teams are asked to discuss their grading philosophies from the beginning of the course proposal process and make course expectations and the assessment process as clear as possible on their syllabi.  This is particularly important because GCWS classes serve diverse students, disciplines, and institutions with different conventions for student performance and evaluation.


The opportunity to teach at the Consortium is one of the benefits of participation for member institution faculty. Faculty may be compensated for course preparation, teaching, advising, and duties related to developing and offering the course in one of two ways:

  1. On-load: This means that faculty teach a GCWS course as part of their regular teaching load. GCWS courses offer graduate students the opportunity to study with accomplished faculty at other member institutions in a classroom with students from other institutions and in different and/or related fields. Faculty teaching such a course are contributing a new and innovative addition to the curriculum of their department and institution. Please note the name of your department's chair or person to contact regarding release time on your faculty agreement letter.
  2. Overload: This means that faculty teach a GCWS course as an addition to their regular teaching load and receive a stipend of $10,000.00. All income taxes and the employee's contribution to FICA will be withheld, pursuant to federal and state regulations. Faculty members are hired as Temporary Lecturers by MIT for the duration of their teaching. Payment will be submitted monthly in the form of direct deposit. The GCWS staff initiates the hire process with instructors, and the MIT comptroller issues monthly payments during the semester. Retropay will occur if hire forms are submitted after the start of the semester.
  3. Of these two options, we prefer to have faculty teach on-load. We have a limited number of stipends available for faculty who cannot teach on-load. Please be in contact with the GCWS throughout on the subject of compensation.

Course Development Mini-Grants

As resources permit, small course development grants for approved teams are available by application to support collaboration, guest speakers, or other course enhancement. All such expenses have to be authorized. Contact the GCWS for a Course Development Mini-grant form.

Student Enrollment

Course enrollment is limited to ensure the quality of faculty-student interaction (15 students for a two-member team; 20 students for a three-member team). The Consortium offers from one to three courses per semester. Fall courses begin in mid-September and end in mid-December; spring courses begin in early February and end in mid-May. Courses are held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, at times to be arranged in consultation with the faculty and coordinated with available classroom space.

Course Development Timeline

In order for a course syllabus to be approved by February of the year before the course will be taught, course proposals should be submitted as early as possible and no later than April 15th one year prior to the start of the course. Contact the GCWS for the current timeline. Once submitted, the GCWS Curriculum Committee reviews the proposal and if it is approved the team is invited to develop a syllabus, the first draft of which is submitted to the full Board of Directors for discussion. Teams receive comments and suggestions from the Board for revising the syllabus as they work together on the final draft. Teams submit this final draft to the Board and attend an in-person discussion at a Board meeting. This discussion is an opportunity for members of the GCWS and the team to share ideas and questions as part of the uniquely collaborative course development and syllabus review process. The course is not officially approved until all steps are complete. The goal is to support the dynamic interdisciplinary thinking which is the mission of GCWS courses by offering the resources of faculty peers to teaching teams. Because every course offered through the Consortium is in some sense experimental, we utilize this innovative course development process that may be new to you. The faculty who have taught in the Consortium find this to be an exciting form of intellectual collaboration, well worth the extra energy and time.

Proposal guidelines for the Workshop for Dissertation Writers in Women's and Gender Studies

The Workshop for Dissertation Writers in Women's and Gender Studies is a year-long bi-weekly workshop led by one instructor. This is an interdisciplinary workshop and is usually comprised of students at all levels of the Dissertation process. Faculty leading the Dissertation Workshop should have substantial experience working with students at the PhD level and are, in most cases, tenured, tenure track, or Emerita faculty at GCWS member institutions.

Dissertation Workshop Proposals

To begin, fill out a Statement of Interest Form. Then, submit a 1-page proposal detailing what you hope to accomplish with the workshop, experience working with graduate students and advising dissertations, and your ideas for how you will shape the course. Also include which year you wish to teach and whether you will require a stipend or teach the workshop as part of your regular teaching load. Please refer to the section of this document on compensation for more information.

All course proposals and inquiries should be sent to: 

Program Manager -
Consortium in Graduate Studies for Women, Gender, Culture, and Sexuality
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Building 14N, Room 211
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139 USA
Ph. (617) 324-2085



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Consortium for Graduate Studies in Gender, Culture, Women, and Sexuality
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 14N-211
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
Phone: 617-324-2085