Greenfield Community College Considering Dropping Gender and Women’s Studies Major

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As a part of its effort to address declining enrollment numbers, Greenfield Community College is considering dropping its gender and women’s studies major.

Greenfield Community College is a public two-year community college in Greenfield, Massachusetts, a city in Franklin County about 34 miles north of Springfield. The school has 1,413 students enrolled in the fall 2022 semester, down from 2,583 students in the fall of 2010 — a drop of 45 percent during the past 12 years. 

“As the institution has declined over the last decade, we have to do a self-reflection of the needs that aren’t being met,” Greenfield Community College president Michelle Schutt told The Greenfield Recorder. “I think, as a responsive institution, we have an obligation to continue reviewing our offerings based on enrollment … as well as regional workforce needs.”

Gender and women’s studies is not a popular major at the school. Six people have majored in it during the past 10 years, according to a presentation the dean of Social Sciences and Professional Studies, Charles “Chet” Jordan, made during the school’s board of trustees meeting on Tuesday, October 11. No video or audio of the meeting is available.

During the meeting, Jordan said that the potential decision concerns enrollment only, not other factors.

The topic came up during the trustees meeting when Jordan introduced The Guided Pathways model.

Jordan said Guided Pathways would focus the school’s attention in areas where there is student demand. It would reduce the school’s offerings in an attempt to make the student focus on degree completion. Jordan said the point is to prevent students from getting “lost along their way to a degree.”

Not everyone is on board with dropping gender and women’s studies.

Student Trustee Maggie Brisbois during the meeting read a letter of disagreement from the Student Senate.

“This is a crucial time in the world to be advancing this option, not letting it go,” Brisbois read, according to The Greenfield Recorder. “Gender and women’s studies helps us understand how gender works to shape the lives of individuals, as well as characters of all societies. The gender and women’s studies option forces students to think critically and provide a different lens to understand people and view society.”

In response to the Student Senate statement, Jordan said that whenever schools simplify their academic offerings, “It always engenders an emotional response from the community. If it didn’t, I’d be incredibly shocked and dismayed that a community would just let go of a program without any response at all.”

Greenfield Community College president Michelle Schutt said during the meeting that the proposal is still under review, but that the decision has to reflect the practical realities at the school.

“Curriculum isn’t political,” she said, according to The Greenfield Recorder. “Curricular decisions have to be made, in part, based on student demand.”

If the school were to drop gender and women’s studies as a major, however, the classes would remain available to students as electives. Cutting the major would not result in any job loss, as the school has no full-time gender and women’s studies faculty.

Here is a description of the gender and women’s studies major from the Greenfield Community College web site:


This interdisciplinary option traces the experiences of women across time and culture, helping students understand how gender works to shape the lives of individuals as well as the characters of whole societies. You’ll take an Introduction to Women’s Studies course that acquaints you with fundamental concepts in the field, then select electives from the Humanities and Behavioral and Social Sciences that focus on various constructions of gender as well as on women¹s roles in contexts like the family, the community, the workplace, the nation, and the environment. A course on either Queer Literature or Women in Literature will also let you see how gender is portrayed in literature. Course electives in social sciences, such as Psychology of Women, Sociology of Gender, Sociology of Human Sexuality or Gender and the Environment will let you see how the social relationships impact men and women.


A spokesman for Greenfield Community College could not be reached for comment on Monday or Tuesday this week. Not could Schutt, Jordan, or Brisbois.


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