Global Gender Studies

Message from
Sylvia Maier
Clinical Associate Professor

Dear Prospective Student,


We are living through a critical period in the fight for gender equality. The unyielding determination of women’s rights advocates around the globe has met with spectacular success. The #MeToo movement has unmasked the ubiquity of sexual harassment and sexual assault; girls now surpass boys in educational attainment at nearly every level; women make up more than half of international migrants; infant and maternal mortality rates have declined; rape is recognized and punished as an international crime; domestic legal codes are purged of discriminatory laws; same-sex marriage is increasingly protected; women serve alongside men in the military, are instrumental in combating violent extremism (CVE) and are eagerly sought as participants in post-conflict community building. Leaders like Angela Merkel, Theresa May, Hillary Clinton, Malala Yousafzai, Christine Lagarde, Leymah Gbowee, and Lubna Al Qasimi are not exceptions anymore, but the rule.


Equally important, the pioneering works of academics and scholar activists, such as J Ann Ticker, Cynthia Enloe, Raewyn Connell, and Naila Kabeer, to name but a few, have led to a fundamental rethinking of the hitherto presumed neutral meanings of “state,” “security” and “development,” unmasked the deeply gendered nature of the international system, established the link between gender discrimination and structural violence, and thus revolutionized the frame and scope of international development practices. The active integration of women’s voices, experiences, knowledge, needs, skills, and capabilities in global development and stabilization programs—most important via the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Agenda launched by UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) and subsequent resolutions—is now recognized as a fundamental precondition for sustainable development, peace, and economic growth.


Yet, at the same time as we are celebrating these achievements, the rights of women and sexual minorities worldwide are under siege. The gains we have made are proving unexpectedly fragile and reversible. Populist and authoritarian leaders—from the United States to Hungary, Russia to the Philippines—frightened by rapid social change, are attempting to reimpose traditional gender norms: women’s and LGBTQ rights activists are attacked on a daily basis; women’s access to full reproductive health care services is being severely curtailed; seventy-two countries criminalize homosexuality and same-sex relationships; in eighteen countries, a husband can legally prohibit his wife from working outside the home; and despite data showing conclusively that peace agreements with women signatories are more durable, women remain largely excluded from peace processes (Afghanistan being the most egregious example.).


The key objective over the next years, therefore, will be to vigorously defend, solidify, and expand the gains women and sexual minorities have made—from Alabama to Afghanistan—and to develop and implement effective programs that promote gender equality in a sustainable manner. Never has the need and demand for gender practitioners been higher.


As part of the MS in Global Affairs, the Concentration in Global Gender Studies equips you—in seminars, through Global Field Intensives, internships, and field research projects—with the theoretical background, substantive knowledge as well as in-demand quantitative and qualitative skills so you can hit the ground running and be ready to research, assess, craft, implement, and advocate for policies and programs that promote gender equality in a sustainable and culturally aware manner. We are a dynamic, rigorously interdisciplinary concentration with a strongly normative character and intersectional approach to gender analysis, which has allowed us to build a vibrant community of dedicated alumnae and alumni working across sectors and continents, from the halls of the UN to tiny villages in the Global South. Our courses and curriculum are updated every semester—reflecting the needs and opportunities of our rapidly changing field—and taught by full time and adjunct faculty, practitioners who bring the wealth of their experiences as well as their extensive professional network to the classroom.


All of this means that those of us passionate about women’s empowerment and the expansion of sexual minority rights have the good fortune to pursue one of the most cutting-edge and impactful careers. The terrain is less than welcoming at times but the battle for gender equality can, and will, be won. And while the challenges may appear daunting at times, we shall be inspired by the timeless words of Eleanor Roosevelt: “You must do the things you think you cannot do.”


I look forward to welcoming you to the CGA soon.



Gender matters. Abuses of women’s rights are among the key drivers of demographic changes and social inequalities that trigger—or sustain—violent conflict, extremism, poverty and other ills.  Countries that are more gender equal—where women and sexual minorities can participate on an equal basis in public life, engage in the labor market, hold positions of power, enjoy equal protection under the law, as well as equal access to education and health care—are measurably more stable, peaceful and prosperous. The dismantling of the complex structures that produce inequality based on gender, race, class, and sexual orientation, and investing in women’s empowerment, such as by including women in peace and transitional justice processes, reforming discriminatory personal status laws, or meeting the needs of women and girls in complex refugee and humanitarian crises, is not only a matter of justice but quite simply smart politics and smart economics. International organizations, NGOs, governments, policymakers and private businesses around the world are investing billions of dollars every year in gender equality and women’s capacity-building programs. Gender equality has moved from the margins to being a priority issue in global politics and international development. Today, expertise in gender policy is both critical and eminently marketable.

The Concentration in Global Gender Studies is committed to real-world relevance and is strongly interdisciplinary. Our cutting-edge curriculum covers a wide range of topics, including feminist theory, development, migration, refugees and displaced people, conflict and peacebuilding, women’s international human rights, LGBTQ rights, women’s rights in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, corporate social responsibility, social impact entrepreneurship, mediation, data analytics, monitoring and evaluation, and program management. Beyond the core course, which is required, students have a great deal of flexibility in designing their own curriculum so as to meet their specific career goals.



The concentration in Global Gender Studies equips students—in seminars, through Global Field Intensives, internships and practical research projects—with the theoretical background, substantive knowledge as well as the practical quantitative and qualitative skills to analyze the fundamental relationship between gender and international politics, and to assess, formulate, and implement policies and programs that promote gender equality in a sustainable and culturally aware manner.


Graduates of the Concentration in Global Gender Studies are well-prepared for and have found exciting careers within the United Nations system, peace-focused non-profits, consulting firms, as well as national and international humanitarian and human rights advocacy organizations.


Concentration: Global Gender Studies

Gender equality has not been achieved anywhere, but it is an international priority: there is increasing awareness of the fact that abuses of women¿s rights are among the drivers of the demographic changes and social inequalities that trigger violent/conflict, as well as poverty and other ills. Gender issues are a critical component of national and international decision-making. This new concentration in Global Gender Studies within the MS in Global Affairs is one of the few master's-level training programs available to equip graduate students with the knowledge and skills to analyze the fundamental relationship between gender and international politics. It provides students with a solid foundation to promote social justice, development, human rights and corporate social responsibility in international development, peace and governance organizations, national foreign affairs, aid, social policy and defense departments, private sector organizations, the not-for-profit sector, and academia. Students in the Global Gender Studies concentration are required to take the first course listed below. Students must then select five concentration elective courses (3 credits each) that are offered on a regular basis.