Women's & Ethnic Studies
Preparing future leaders to become agents of social change
About the Department
The Women's and Ethnic Studies (WEST) program at UCCS is dedicated to fostering critical thinking about the intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, disability, nationality, and other hierarchies.
Our aim is to provide a deeper understanding of history, culture, and society from a range of perspectives, including those of marginalized individuals and communities. Through our commitment to human rights and social and environmental justice, we strive to develop a consciousness about issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion on a local, national, and global scale.
We envision a future in which all individuals are treated with dignity and respect. Join us in shaping a more inclusive and equitable society.
As part of her work as Dean of Students in an alternative high school in southern Colorado, WEST graduate Abbey Banta took a group of high-risk youth to a film festival. Serendipitously, she met the director of a film about a boy from a Nepalese village working to build schools in rural Nepal, and asked how she could help.
A few months later, Banta found herself working as a volunteer co-teacher in a Nepalese village, conducting a regional training for teachers from the area and learning from them at the same time. She also worked with younger girls and women facing stigmatization during menstruation, educating them about why they bleed, what to expect each month, and what the value of menstruation is, in addition to distributing sustainable period supplies to the participants.
When asked about the trip, Banta writes that it "was enlightening in more ways than I could have imagined...I left with a strong desire to learn more about Nepal and to continue working toward equity in global education." As a result, she has begun an educational consulting business to better advocate for equity and is applying to postgraduate programs in London. Banta hopes to return to Nepal soon, adding, "I never would have had this experience if I didn't simply ask for it. Opportunities are all around us, all of the time."
Three months after graduating in 2020 with a dual degree in WEST and Sociology, Aiden Olson began a master's degree program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, an internship with Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners, and a part-time job as a substitute teacher at an elementary school. In all these settings, Aiden finds that his UCCS courses and degrees have been very helpful. "I'm glad I chose a double major in Sociology and WEST because they gave me the knowledge I need to understand where clients and students are coming from. I have a better understanding of people and the world we live in." Aiden plans to continue in an elementary setting as a school counselor, adding, "I know my work at UCCS will continue to create a positive impact in my future."