UMass Boston

Scholarships and Awards

Honors Work in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (Departmental Honors)

Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Book Award

Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Founders’ Award for Academic Excellence and Social Activism

Jean Humez Fund


The Honors Program is designed as an opportunity for highly academically  motivated student, many of whom are bound for graduate school, to complete two semesters of intensive research and writing on a research topic of the students’ choice related to Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. The student is supervised and supported by a faculty committee comprised of the Honors Project advisors (typically a member of the WGS faculty and two additional faculty members) with expertise in the selected topic area.

Students who successfully complete both semesters of work (typically this means writing an extensive research proposal backed by a literature review in the Fall and the completion of all research and the writing of the full paper in the Spring), and receive a grade of A or A- on the final paper will be awarded department Honors and publically recognized at the Honors Convocation. In the last weeks of the Spring, Honors candidates participate  in a campus-wide advertised WGS Honors Conversation during which the student presents her/his research, and fields questions and comments.

To be eligible for Honors work, a student must 1) be a Women’s and Gender Studies major, 2) have completed no less than 21 credits (7 courses) of WGS coursework, 3)have a WGS GPA of 3.3 or higher, 4) have an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Interested students should fist speak with their departmental advisor to explore possible topics, advisor, and committee members.

Selected List of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Honors papers:
"Gender in STEM: An Intersectional and Interdisciplinary Feminist Ethnography" (Michelle Chouinard, 2016)
“Bawdy Bodies: The Burlesque Revival” (Natalia Cooper, 2005)
"Challenges of Implementing a Batterer Intervention Program in a Correctional Facility” (Amanda Greene, 2005)
“A Matter of Fists and Feathers: Sexuality and the Gendered Construction of Cuban Nation, 1959-1971” (Daniel Rodriguez, 2004)
“The Limits of Transnational Human-rights Oriented Activism in Opposing Honor Killings” (Sabah Uddin, 2001)
“In Strength and Struggle: Lessons from the Battered Women’s Movement” (Claire MacNeill, 2000)
“The Politics of Identity: Exploring Concepts of Bisexuality” (Christa Lyons, 1998)
“The Battered Women’s Movement and Its Impact on Police Practice” (Atsuko Takakura, 1998)
“Quilting Women: A Study of Quilting’s Place in the Contemporary Culture” (Jackie Cornog, 1997)

WGS Book Award Each year the department designates one of its most academically talented graduating seniors as the recipient of the Book Award in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. The honors designation “Distinction in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies” accompanies the Book Award, and the recipient’s name is listed in the Honors Convocation booklet.

The Women’s Studies Founders Award for Academic Excellence and Social Activism was initiated by Mary Anne Ferguson, Professor Emerita of English and Women’s Studies, in 1990-91. Since that time, it has been supported both by her continuing contributions, and by gifts from many other faculty, alumnae, and friends of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department.

One, or sometimes two, monetary prizes are made each year at the CLA Honors Convocation to winners of the Founders’ Award. Graduating Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies majors are invited to apply for the award each year by submitting a personal statement, along with two letters of reference: one from a professor familiar with the applicant’s academic work, and one from someone with knowledge of the student’s record of social activism. A faculty committee reviews the applications and chooses the away recipients.

Social activism is defined broadly in determining eligibility for the award. Frequently, the recipients of the award have performed services for the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department and other organizations on campus, as well as community-based work through internships, volunteering, and occasionally paid employment. Political and cultural activism, educational outreach, and social service work on behalf of women and girls are all included in the histories of our Founders’ Award recipients. Award recipients have also been concerned with poverty, homophobia, and other social issues.

The Jean Humez Fund A small pool of money ($500.00) will be made available every year to support student research and development from a development fund set up by Professor Emerita Jean Humez. Individual grants for students will be capped at $250.00, however, exceptions may be made in exigent circumstances.

Application Process - The department will make an announcement about the availability of funding at the start of the spring semester, and provide a deadline for applications; a committee of 2 department members appointed by the department chair will evaluate applications and decide how to distribute the available funds

Applicants should prepare a brief proposal (one page) for a grant of up to $250.00 specifying how they would use the funds.  If relevant, the proposal should include information about other sources of funding applied for, or obtained, for the same project or objective; and a short report on progress made on the project over the last year

Student applicants also must explain how the activity they are seeking funding for will advance their academic work in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and/or Human Rights. In addition, they must arrange for a WGS faculty member to write a brief email or letter in support of their application.

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