A Postmodern Feminist Approach to Teaching Human Sexuality
Author(s): Kristine M. Baber and Colleen I. Murray
Source: Family Relations, Vol. 50, No. 1 (Jan., 2001), pp. 23-33
Published by: National Council on Family Relations
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A PostmodernFeminist Approachto Teaching Human Sexuality
Kristine M. Baber* and Colleen I. Murray
Postmodernfeminist theoryprovides a valuableperspectivefor designingand teachinghumansexualitycourses. The utilityof this
approach is explainedand strategiesfor helping studentsunderstanda constructivistframeworkpresented.The theory is put into
to a strengthsapproach,(b) provideinformation
action,and thefollowing coursegoals are addressed:(a) shiftfrom a problem-oriented
and skills that are relevantand useful,(c) expandstudents'thinkingaboutdiversity,and (d) help studentsmaximizetheir own sexual
healthand minimizeexploitationof themselvesand others.Thearticleconcludeswitha discussionof pedagogicaland ethicalchallenges
of teachingfrom a postmodernfeministperspective.
eaching a course in human sexuality can be exciting and
gratifying, not only because such a course provides students with knowledge and skills they may use in working
with others professionally, but also because it gives them information they can use in their personal lives. In addition, it provides an opportunityto help students develop critical thinking
skills. The subject matter is inherently interesting to students,
and they are generally eager to gain new knowledge and to correct misinformation.Teachinghuman sexuality also presentseducators with unique personal and professional challenges. Many
issues are controversial or potentially traumaticfor certain students, students' comfort level with sexual materialmay be low,
and research on critical topics may be nonexistent or may take
a problem-orientedapproachthat ignores pleasure and desire.
According to a recent assessment by the Social Science Research Council, sexuality researchis fragmented,and much of it
"focuses on sexuality as representedby risk behaviors . . . sexuality is negatively viewed as the source of problemsand disease
ratherthan an integral part of human development and health"
(di Mauro, 1997, p. 3). In addition, our understandingof human
sexuality lacks a strong, useful theoreticalfoundation,and there
are conflicting views aboutwhat should be taughtand how topics
should be addressed. Weis (1998), writing in a special issue of
The Journal of Sex Research devoted to theory in sexuality research, noted the need "to reduce the disengagement" (p. 110)
between theory and sexuality education as well. In this article,
we suggest a postmodern feminist approach to teaching about
human sexuality thatis theory driven,challenges existing knowledge about normal sexuality, acknowledges the role of power
and privilege in sexual experiences, and encourages an activist
We take the position that groundingourselves in an explicit
theoretical frameworkas we teach about sexuality will result in
a more effective experience for students. When our teaching is
clearly guided by theory, we are more likely to think about what
we are doing, why we are doing it, and the best way to accomplish our goals. The feminist approachwe presentincludes selfT
*Address correspondenceto: Kristine M. Baber,Departmentof Family Studies, Universityof New Hampshire,PetteeHall, Durham,NH 03824; e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org
Key Words: ethical issues, human sexuality, pedagogy
(Family Relations, 2001, 50, 23-33)
2001, Vol. 50, No. 1
theory, postmodern feminism.
reflexivity-the examinationof one's own attitudes,beliefs, and
practices-as a critical component and encourages careful considerationof course process as well as outcomes.
In this article, we first discuss the postmodernfeminist perspective we use and present strategies for exposing students to
a constructivistframeworkfor thinkingabout sexuality. We then
suggest ways to put the theory into action and addressour goals
for the course, which include: (a) developing a strengths approach that challenges the dominant problem-orientedteaching
of sexuality, (b) providinginformationand skills that arerelevant
and useful, (c) demonstratingthe diversity among people in their
sexual experiences, and (d) helping studentstake action to maximize their own sexual health and satisfaction and minimize the
sexual exploitation of themselves and others. We conclude the
article by exploring some of the pedagogical challenges and ethical issues involved in teaching human sexuality from a feminist
perspective, including providing a safe learning environment,
dealing with resistance, and the use of self and self-disclosure.
Specific suggestions for classroom practice are integrated
throughout the text, and the appendix provides detailed information about several activities that demonstrateour theoretical
Our Postmodern Feminist Perspective
We present a postmodern feminist perspective as a useful
frameworkfor structuringsexuality courses and informing pedagogical practice. Such an approachencourages a careful consideration of taken-for-grantedinformation;helps students understandtheir experiences, even if they are contradictoryor incoherent (Weedon, 1987); and is committed to providing information that will be personally and professionally useful to
students.Although there are differentconceptualizationsof postmodern feminism, there are common underlying assumptions.
Postmoderntheorists take the position that all theory is socially
constructedand reject the claim of moderniststhat only rational,
abstract thought and scientific methodology can lead to valid
knowledge (Hekman, 1990; White & Mason, 1999). Postmodernistspropose that there are many ways of knowing, and knowledge claims are seen as partial, fragmented, and incomplete
(Flax, 1990). A postmodernapproachstresses the importanceof
historical context, variationsamong people, and the expectation
of change over time. Postmodernism provides a sophisticated
and persuasive critique of essentialism-rejecting the reduction23
ism and naive dualismthatresultin dichotomous,either-orthinking and embracingambivalence,paradox,and heterogeneity(Baber & Allen, 1992; Fraser & Nicholson, 1990). Feminism, with
its focus on gender and attentionto power, adds to a postmodern
perspectivethe social critiqueand the imperativefor action. Such
a strategy seeks to address the invisibility and distortion of
knowledge about oppressed groups and attemptsto produce information that frees individuals to move toward their potential
(Lather, 1991). The blending of postmodernism and feminism
results in a richer, more layered analysis of social experiences
and institutionsthat informs strategiesfor action (Fraser& Nicholson, 1990).
A postmodernfeminist approachto sexuality conceptualizes
it as complex and fluid. Unitary,monolithic theories of sexuality
are rejected, and contradictory representationsof experiences
and desire are accommodated(Ussher, 1994). Ratherthan seeing
sexuality as a purely naturalphenomenoncharacterizedby fixed,
inherentdrives that are essentially differentfor men and women,
sexuality is seen to be constructed in relation to, and in interaction with, historically and culturally variable social practices
like religion, education, and medicine (J. Harding, 1998). Conceptualizationsof sexuality are believed to reflect social relations
regardinggender, ethnicity, and class and to be culturallymanaged throughthe ways we talk, think, and practice. As a result,
some sexual experiences, beliefs, and practices are legitimized
and others are denigratedor remain hidden (J. Harding, 1998).
The postmodernfeminist push to acknowledge within-groupdiversity and to consider the experiences of those whose sexuality
has been ignored or misrepresentedleads us to seek out more
inclusive informationand to bring in the voices of those in marginal groups whenever possible. This attention to diversity and
acknowledgment of the multiplicity of experiences and understandings leads us to use the concept of sexualities ratherthan
"sexuality" (Baber & Allen, 1992; Daniluk, 1998).
A pluralist approachdoes not mean total relativism, however. We are not advocating taking a value-free position, where
anythinggoes and where all sexual experiences and activities are
acceptable. A frequent criticism of postmodern theories is that
such approaches risk sliding into a relativism that accepts all
claims to truthas having equal validity. We take the position that
all truthclaims do not carry the same justificatoryforce (Baber
& Allen, 1992) and assert that we can use critical reflectionand
rational argumentto illuminate problems in social relations and
identify inaccuracies in opposing perspectives (Hawkesworth,
1989). For example, although we may take a position that acknowledges pluralism, we would oppose adults' having sexual
contact with childreneven if children "consent." Those teaching
human sexuality courses can refer back to some of their own
underlyingbeliefs about sexuality to facilitate a discussion about
how we can avoid a slide into relativism when we adopt the
pluralismof a postmodernstance.
Our intention is to provide students with a repertoire of
skills and informationto assist them in constructinga dynamic
understandingof human sexualities that can benefit themselves,
their partners,and those with whom they work professionally.
We hope to sensitize students to the ways in which power relationships and prevailing societal discourses regarding sexuality
continue to oppress women and some men. We also want to
encourage optimism so that students can feel confident developing strategiesand taking action to maximize sexual health and
pleasure while minimizing risk. We are not proposing that the
frameworkpresentedhere is the only way to achieve these goals,
nor do we believe that a postmodern feminist perspective has
any particularclaim to the pedagogical strategies we use. We
present our ideas as a cohesive, theory-basedapproachto teaching human sexuality. By exposing students to a constructivist
approach that assumes sexuality is shaped through the values,
beliefs, and politics of our culture (Gannon, 1994), we believe
we can help them to develop a frameworkfor organizing their
thinking and integratingthe material they will consider during
Using a Constructivist Approach
Our postmodern feminism is a constructivist perspective.
This means that we reject essentialist assumptionsaboutthe naturalness of sexuality; rather, we see sexuality as constructed
through a complex scripting process influenced by various historically and culturallydeterminedfactors (Gagnon, 1990; Gagnon & Simon, 1973; Laumann& Gagnon, 1995; Laws, 1980).
There is a physiology of sexuality and arousal,but the meaning
associated with aspects such as desire, objects of desire, and the
interpretationof sexual experiences is substantially shaped by
culture (Dworkin, 1987; Gagnon, 1990; MacKinnon,1987a) and
experience. Such an approach defines sexuality beyond intercourse and involves elements of biology, individual characteristics, and social influences. For example, when teaching sexualities from a feminist constructivistperspective, one would introduce Masters and Johnson's (1966) work, which identified
similar patternsof sexual arousal for men and women, but one
might use their work merely as a springboardto questions about
whether "objective" measures of arousal, such as vaginal lubrication, are more accuratethan self-reports(MacKinnon,1987b).
Class discussion might entail questions such as "Could experience result in women disidentifying with their bodies' conditioned responses?"
From this constructivistperspective, sexuality is viewed as
a process, episodic ratherthan continuous,and profoundlyinfluenced by the currentenvironmentand social prescriptions.Thus,
sexualities cannot be understoodwithout contextual grounding,
and relationshipscannot change without an analysis of the current environmentin which they occur,including an investigation
of the effects of prevailing power dynamics. A constructivist
approachdoes not assume uniformity and thereforecan accommodate complexity within a culture, across cultures, and over
time (DeLamater& Hyde, 1998).
Postmodernism is also deconstructive. The deconstructive
aspect of a postmodernapproachserves as a tool to examine the
way language operates to create oppositions and hierarchies
(Hare-Mustin& Marecek, 1990). Deconstructinginvolves a critical analysis of concepts, categories, and metaphors;the process
includes challenging taken-for-grantedassumptions, examining
how power functions as a regulatorymechanism, and considering what is included in traditionalpresentationsof information
as well as what is left out (J. Harding, 1998; Tiefer, 1995).
Deconstruction can be more challenging for students to
grasp than the constructivistaspect of postmoderntheory, but it
is a very powerful tool once its utility is accepted. The concepts
of sex, sexual consent, and sexual orientationprovide examples
for facilitating students' understandingof deconstruction.Most
students come into class with the unexamined assumptionthat
there are two sexes, female and male, and an implicit belief that
men are, at least in some ways, superior.Introducingthe concept
of transgenderthroughreadings (e.g., Feinberg, 1996; Mackenzie, 1994; Rothblatt, 1995) or guest speakerswho are transgenFamily Relations
dered or transsexualpushes studentsto deconstructthe concepts
sex and gender and helps them to understandthe ways in which
prevailing categories of knowledge are socially constructed.Students also often assume that there is a general understandingof
the concept of sexual consent. Readings such as Muehlenhard
(1996) on the complexities of sexual consent and Gavey (1993)
on the effects of heterosexual coercion can help studentsto deconstructcommon assumptions.
Similarly, students are now used to thinking about sexual
orientation as including three options-heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual. The introduction of Klein's (1990) grid approach, which takes into consideration sexual attraction,sexual
fantasies, emotional preference, social preference, self-identification, and lifestyle as well as sexual behavior,encourages students to deconstruct concepts such as sexual orientation and
challenges simplistic, unexamined assumptions about their own
and others' sexuality. The Klein model is particularlyuseful in
this regard because it also includes a time component, which
introducesthe possibility of change in sexual orientation-a notion that studentsmay not have formally considered,but one that
appearsto be consistent with many individuals' lived experiences. This example also provides an opportunityto deconstruct
constructivism through a consideration of how Klein's model
continues to rely on dualism. It can be arguedthat this model is
merely composed of multiple variables, each with its own dichotomy and with no allowance for asexual behavior,autoerotic
behavior, desire primarily with a transgenderedperson (which
may not be adequately addressed by "my gender" or "other
gender"), desire that is primarilyexperienced in relationshipto
a range of objects or animals, or desire that is of a spiritual
More advanced students can be exposed to challenging deconstructivist articles like Linda Nicholson's (1995) "Interpreting Gender," Steven Seidman's (1995) "DeconstructingQueer
Theory; or, the Under-theorizationof the Social and the Ethical,"
or Deborah Steams's (1995) "GenderedSexuality:The Privileging of Sex and Gender in Sexual Orientation."Nicholson suggests that a feminist deconstructiveanalysis of gender does not
necessarily mean abandoningthe idea of gender, but ratherdetermining the historical baggage the term carries with it and redeploying the concept. She urges readers to see the "meaning
given to the body and how this meaning is related to the male/
female distinction as historically variable" (Nicholson, 1995, p.
11). Just as Nicholson examines the male-female opposition,
Seidman focuses on the heterosexual-homosexualdistinction.
Seidman takes the position that queer theory and politics mobilize against all normalizedhierarchiesand challenge the notion
of any unitary, common sexual identity among either homosexuals or heterosexuals. His article deconstructsthe heterosexualhomosexual opposition that supports a heteronormativityand
urges a rethinking of heterosexuality-homosexualityas master
categories of desire, identity, and social life. Steams goes even
further,questioning why sex and gender are assumed to be the
most importantcategories for understandingsexual orientation
and pushing readersto reconsiderhow we constructour thinking
about sexual orientations.
Postmodern feminism, therefore, is a perspective that can
provide a framework for helping students explore and critique
informationthat has been seen as fundamentalto an understanding of sexuality in contemporarysociety. Concepts such as sexual scriptsprovide an easily accessible way for studentsto grasp
some of the basic ideas about constructivism and to begin to
2001, Vol. 50, No. 1
understandhow one might think about sexualities as socially
Sexual scripts. The term sexual scripts refers to the "repertoire of acts and statusesthat are recognized by a social group,
together with the rules, expectations, and sanctions governing
these acts and sanctions" (Laws & Schwartz, 1977, p. 2). As
part of a lifelong process, individuals develop a frameworkthat
guides their sexual beliefs, desires, and behaviors (Laumann&
Gagnon, 1995). This frameworkis constructedas an individual
reflects upon sexual instructionsembedded in culturaldiscourse
and his or her own sexual interests and experiences. The resulting script is a meaningful system of ideas that prescribes with
whom one should have sexual activity, when and where sexual
activity should occur, what types of activities are appropriate,
and acceptablereasons for participating(or not participating)in
such activity. Sexual scripts include a subtext about the process
of sexual activity-who should initiate, what is appropriatecommunication around sexual activity, and how power can be used.
Opportunity,socialization, and interpretationcontributeto one's
sexual self-construction(Blumstein & Schwartz, 1990), and like
sexualities, the content of sexual scripts may evolve in relation
to context and experience. Sexual scripts are not only the intrapsychic cognitive constructionsof the individual; they also organize the mutually shared conventions that allow two or more
individuals to participatein complex acts, such as sexual activities, that requiremutual dependence (Gagnon, 1990; Gagnon &
There are normative sexual scripts that guide the ways men
and women are socialized in regard to sexuality, but each individual also develops a personal sexual script as the result of
particularexperiences, education, and exposures that is a variation of the more general social script. Students have little difficulty using the concept of sexual scripts to help organize their
thinking about how messages from parents, teachers, media,
friends, partners,and social institutionshave influenced the way
they have come to think about themselves as sexual beings and
to make choices about partnersand sexual practices.
A classroom exercise that identifies the prevailing sexual
scripts for women and men demonstratesexplicit differencesbetween the two and allows for discussion of variationsthat occur
as individuals construct their personal sexual scripts. For example, two women may sharemany characteristicsregardingthe
who, when, where, and why of sexual activity, but they may
have very differentpreferencesregardingthe sexual practicesin
which they would participate.Studentshave also alluded to regional differences in the "socially appropriate"orderingof sexual behaviors.For example, the intimacy level accordedto oralgenital sexual activity may differ by geographic region, as reflected in its expected order in relation to timing of sexual intercourse.Sexual scripts may also vary in response to the social
messages received by those of different ethnicities or different
sexual orientations. Rust's (1996) cross-culturalresearch with
Latina, Asian American, and African American lesbians and bisexual women provides a useful example.
Once students see the possibility of deconstructingsexual
scripts (including their own) and reconstructingthem in a manner that more closely reflects their life experiences and desires,
the dynamic power of these concepts becomes clear.A constructivist approachassumes that there are a variety of forces shaping
sexualities in our society and that they do not operate in a random manner.Perhapseven more important,a constructivistapproach accepts that change is possible and that sexual scripts,
for example, can be rewritten. This postmodem perspective
opens the door to a system of possibilities (Hare-Mustin& Marecek, 1990) whereby, througha rethinkingof values, social influences, and behaviors, students can, to some extent, become
creators of their own sexuality. This understandingcan provide
the foundation for the work that will be done in the class and
the rationalefor the assignments, activities, and choice of readings. Examples of activities that can be used to help students
think about the construction,deconstruction,and reconstruction
of sexual scripts are included in the Appendix.
Social discourse and sexual scripts. Sexual scripts are constructedin response to, and in interactionwith, social discourse
about sexuality. Discourse refers to an interrelatedsystem of
statements, terms, categories, and beliefs that cohere around
common meanings and values (Gavey, 1993; Scott, 1994). So
although most people have the capability to gain pleasure
throughphysical contact, their experiences and interpretationsof
sexuality are constrainedby available sexual discourse (Choi &
Nicolson, 1994). For example, women (and men) develop an
understandingof how women are supposed to act, think, and
feel about sexuality through informationthey receive from parents, friends, partners,teachers, the media, religion, and public
policies. The dominantdiscourse is historicallyand socially constructed in response to prevailing power and practices and is
expressed in social institutions, laws, and modes of thought in
such a way as to serve the interestsof those with the most power.
Discourse analysis in class and throughcourse assignments
can be used to sensitize students to the ways in which sexual
scripts are shapedby social messages. (See example of discourse
analysis activity in the Appendix.) Discourse analysis involves
investigating the ways in which ideas, beliefs, and knowledge
are socially constructedand includes a considerationof what gets
said and who says it (J. Harding, 1998). The classic article by
Michelle Fine (1988) on prevailing discourses of female sexuality provides an easily accessible introductionto this material.
In this article, Fine identifies four prevailing discourses about
women's sexuality: sexuality as violence, sexuality as victimization, sexuality as individualmorality,and a discourseof desire.
Research articles that analyze the ways popular magazines, advertisements,and romance novels depict cultural scriptsregarding sexuality (e.g., Carpenter,1998; Christian-Smith,1998) provide other foundations for activities to encourage students' deconstructionof culturaldiscourse.
Through class discussion, students can explore how sexual
discoursereflects and reinforcesexisting social arrangementsthat
become institutionalizedand thereforeseem normal and natural,
whereas alternativescriptsare denied and devaluedin an attempt
to keep them from being perceived as options (Laws &
Schwartz, 1977). Ideas can be generatedabouthow we can challenge the prevailing discourses, address oppression, and correct
the invisibility and distortionof the experiences of marginalized
groups (Lather,1991). Studentsin privileged groupsmay be sensitized to the destructive effects power inequities and exploitation can have on desire and intimacy. It is important,however,
to balance this type of informationwith an approachthat is positive and that encourages students to be optimistic and hopeful
about their ability to have satisfying sexual relationships.
Developing a Strengths Approach
One of the challenges we face in teaching human sexuality
is developing ways to avoid a problem-orientedapproach.This
is not an easy task because the prevailing discourse on sexuality,
particularlyabout female and adolescent sexuality, is dominated
by problems-unplanned pregnancies, sexually transmittedinfections, sexual dysfunction, sexual exploitation, the HIV epidemic, and the decline of sexual interest and activity with aging
(di Mauro, 1997; Murray& Leigh, 1995). Sexual pleasure and
desire receive limited attention in most human sexuality texts
and journal articles (Fine, 1988; Tolman, 1991, 1994). This phenomenon is undoubtedly a by-product of societal ambivalence
about our sexuality and of a heritagethat equates sexual pleasure
with illicit and unspeakable(in that we feel as though we cannot
talk about them) activities. In addition, there are few forums
where sexuality can be discussed and factual, timely information
shared in a context that values nonexploitative sexuality as a
pleasurableaspect of being human.
A college-level human sexuality course offers such a forum
to students,often for the first time in their lives. Studentseasily
relate to the lack of positive informationabout sexuality and are
generally enthusiastic about countering a problems approach
with discussion of pleasure, desire, and knowledge that can help
them and their partnershave more satisfying sexual experiences.
In addition, such a course accommodates emerging values and
experiences, such as the increasedpopularityof celibacy by students who view it as "smart" and divorce it from a moral position.
As is the case with all courses, human sexuality classes can
be structuredso that they silence studentsand precludequestions
or so that they encourage discussion, contradiction,challenge,
and interaction.Feminist approachesto class process are characterizedby four analytic themes that supportsuch experiences:
mastery, voice, authority,and positionality (Maher & Tetreault,
1994). These themes are woven throughoutour courses and influence our thinkingabout effective ways to teach sexuality.Materials and information are used in feminist classrooms to encourage studentsto make increasinglycomplex connections and
interpretationsof discourse, not to silence and master students
or to push them to seek definitive conclusions. Voice refers to
an awakening of a student'sown responses and utilizes relevant
personal experience to foster a narrativeof the student'semerging self. There is acceptanceof students'own stories within context, without the assumption of universality.The theme of authority refers to the teacher's authorityused to make choices in
relation to knowledge ratherthan to representknowledge. The
focus is on studentquestions, and insights are motivatednot only
by rational curiosity, but also by other states of mind. Positionality reflects the acceptance of various types of knowledge as
valid when the knower's specific position (i.e., gender, race,
class, and other socially significant constructs) is contextually
Learningin feminist classrooms proceeds partiallyfrom informationpresented,but also from the questions of the students
themselves and from the everyday experiences of other ordinary
people. This approachencourages studentsto gain an education
relevant to their concerns, to create meaning, and to find their
own voices in relationto the material(Litner,Rossiter,& Taylor,
1992; Maher & Tetreault,1994). As such, the course integrates
student contributionsinto the subject matter,and the end result
differs for each course dependingupon the studentsin the class.
Therefore,knowledge in a feminist classroom is constructedout
of the coming togetherof differentperspectives,ratherthanfrom
a single theory, truth,or way of thinking.
A keystone of a feminist postmodernperspective is the rejection of a unitary truth or knowledge. Such an assumption
encourages us to promote actively a pluralistapproachto human
sexuality. We reject the ideas, for example, of "a" female sexuality or of a single, common homosexual identity. Our goal is
to help students deconstructsuch categories and become aware
of the tremendous differences among individuals, for example,
differences in women's sexual interests and experiences or variations between and among lesbians and gay men in their desires
and relationships. (See the Appendix for suggestions regarding
A focus on diversity can also effectively orient studentsto
issues and informationabout groups, such as those with disabilities or the elderly, who are sometimes overlooked in human
sexuality courses. In addition to broadening students' grasp of
sexuality as a body of knowledge, focusing on diversity also
helps preparethose who may work with special populations.Articles such as Patti's (1995) on sexual expression in those with
mental retardationor Kupper's (1995) on sexuality education
with youth who are disabled can stimulatediscussion about sexual rights, consent, legal issues, and a strengths-basedapproach
to sexuality for individuals with special needs. Readings about
older adults and sexuality address misconceptions and support
the idea of sexual scripting as a dynamic process that continues
over the life span for many individuals.The importanceof looking at within-groupvariabilitycan be stressed with articles such
as Call, Sprecher,and Schwartz's (1995) on the incidence and
frequency of maritalsexual activity, which underscoresthe problem of using mean levels of activities to understandsexuality
among older adults.
A feminist classroom achieves interactive participation
"throughthe principles of openness, promotionof equality,trust
building, and respect for differences" (Currie, 1992, p. 343). If
such an environmentis achieved, it should reduce the alienation
of students whose values or experiences differ from those of
other class members. Ironically, a human sexuality course
groundedin a postmodernfeminist approachmay be better suited than other teaching styles to prepare students who come to
class presenting conservative religious values. An environment
of trust-buildingand respect for differences can provide these
students with a sense of security that encourages them to voice
their beliefs rather than feeling silenced or ostracized, as they
might in a classroom operating more hierarchically.A climate
of equality may lessen the need to rely on references to higher
powers or authority.
Another group of students who often seek the opportunity
to gain an educationrelevant to their life experiences are returning or nontraditional-agestudents. Returning students often indicate that they are grapplingwith their own children'ssexuality
issues. These students may initially be seeking factual material
to take home but may later find that they have benefited from
the pedagogical style and have used it to enhance interaction
with their children in discussion of sensitive topics.
Information is made available about local resources, such as
those providing routine reproductivehealth care, sexually transmitted disease and HIV testing and counseling, and sexually related support groups, as well as national resources such as the
Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, SIECUS, and the
Kinsey Institute. Activities that encourage students to evaluate
different types of contraceptives, purchase condoms, examine
their genitals, or talk with a partnerabout sexual issues help them
to constructnew understandingsabout themselves as sexual beings and to achieve greater confidence in their own decisionmaking and negotiation skills.
Although its effectiveness has been well documentedin sexuality education with younger students (Kirby, 1992/1993), the
practice of providing modeling and rehearsals of sexual communicationand negotiation skills in college-level courses is rare.
(See the Appendix for a sample rehearsal-modelingactivity.)
Studentsoften reporta gap between knowledge and action; they
report having the information,but not having the confidence to
put it to use. The course can provide an opportunityfor students
to share strategies and techniques with one another.A woman
who narratesher successful negotiation to get her partnerto use
protection against sexually transmittedinfections reinforcesherself as an active constructorof her own sexual experiences, but
she also acts as a model for her peers. The usefulness of rehearsals and modeling activities depends upon their approximation to actual situations and the contexts within which they
occur. It is important,however, to ensure that students are not
asked to participatein an activity that might cause them to relive
A classroom climate that supportsconversationand discussion also allows the presentationof a variety of perspectives on
any topic. A period of time each week can be allocated to discussions of students' observations about sexuality from the media and from their day-to-daylife. Studentscan be asked to voice
their opinions either verbally or anonymouslythroughan activity
such as free-writes. (See the Appendix for a sample activity.)
This approachprovides the opportunityfor students to hear diverse perspectiveseven within their own class and gives students
another forum for analyzing how deconstruction-reconstruction
as well as sexual discourse (including their own) operates.
Consistent with a feminist pedagogy, our course preparations involve conscious planning for the inclusion of relationship, personalnarrative,and induction(Carter& Spitzack, 1990;
Maher & Tetreault,1994). This approachis not to be confused
with "doing therapy," with a resulting onslaught of appointments with upset students. On the contrary,the opportunityfor
personalnarrativesshifts the boundariesof what counts as learning and frees the instructorfrom numerousinteractionswith students who have no place to process materialand make sense of
their lives (Litner et al., 1992). Consistent with this approach,
journals can be requiredin which attentionis given to responses
to a variety of materials, discussion of dynamics of classroom
interaction,and awarenessof shifts in the students' attitudesand
behaviors. Studentscan also use journal writing to explore ways
of putting their knowledge into action.
Providing Useful Information and Skills
The Importance of Action
Our courses also provide pragmaticinformationthat can be
immediatelyuseful to students.For example, insteadof just reading and talking about emergency contraception,we make sure
that studentshave the toll-free numberto call (800-584-9911) to
get names and numbersof providersof this service in their area.
Central to most feminist perspectives is a commitment to
action to address societal problems, reduce inequities, minimize
exploitation, and maximize health and well-being. The importance of action is woven into all aspects of this course. Empowering studentsmeans not only encouragingthem to perceive op-
2001, Vol. 50, No. 1
tions and fostering an understandingof the forces that shape the
context of their lives (Lather, 1991), but also providing them
with information and abilities to make choices that maximize
sexual health and enjoymentin their relationships.On one level,
teachingthe course itself is taking action by providingthis forum
where people can get information,ask questions, explore ideas,
and share experiences in a relatively safe and supportiveenvironment. Informationprovided in class is selected for its usefulness to students in their own lives and in working with their
future clients. A commitment to action is also evident in class
assignmentsthat are designed to have consequences beyond just
exposing studentsto new ideas and analytical methods, as most
Another action component that comes into play is the experience the professor has in the community as an active agent
of change. Being involved with agencies, programs,research,or
movements relevantto course materialenrichesthe contributions
the professor brings as a professional into the classroom. In addition to an action orientation'sbeing consistent with our theoretical perspective, researchindicates that studentsare more engaged with course content and learn more effectively when there
are clearly demonstratedconnections between course material
and their everyday life (McMillan & Forsyth, 1991; Svinicki,
Action projects. A particularlyeffective assignmentused by
one of us is the action project. (See the Appendix for a detailed
description of this assignment.) These projects can be designed
to be a majorfocus of students'work over the semester.Students
are encouraged to identify actual community needs and collaborate with others in class to maximize the effectiveness of the
project. Examples of action projects completed by students are
the following: visiting all the childbirthcenters in the area and
preparingwritten evaluations for distribution,planning and implementing a bisexual support group for college-aged women,
planning and implementing (with a sexuality educator) a foursession series on sexuality issues for students at an alternative
school, preparingbrochureson sexuality issues for a local clinic,
and developing a networkamong high school counselors to support young women who have had abortions.Studentsreportthat
these action projects are the most meaningful work they do in
the class, both because they are doing work about which they
are passionate and because they are putting their knowledge and
skills to use.
Professors as change agents. Students appear to take the
action approachmore seriously when the professormodels being
a change agent and sharesher or his own experiences. This may
involve major action like research projects or taking leadership
positions in professional groups or in local communities. The
action might be as simple as placing a symbol of acceptanceof
sexual diversity in one's office or talking to a local pharmacist
about the placement of condoms in a store. Other examples
might include writing letters to the editor,contributinga column
for the local newspaper,or evaluating children's books on sexuality for the local library system.
The presentation of the concept of change agent and the
professor's talking about her or his own activities early in the
semester provide the basis for continued discussions throughout
the course about how individualscan be active agents of change.
As topics are explored, studentscan consider ways in which they
can act as change agents, even if in minor ways, in their everyday lives. Class discussion can include students' sharingactions
they take as the result of informationand skills they have gained
in class. Talking about these personal action projects reinforces
the idea that students are able to influence not only their own
sexual scripts,but also the societal variablesthat affect how sexualities are constructedin our day-to-day life.
Pedagogical Challenges of Teaching Human
Teaching sexuality courses can present challenges for faculty, regardless of the theoretical grounding of the course. Instructorsusing a postmodernfeminist perspectiveface additional
challenges, and each campus presents its own demands (Maher
& Tetreault,1994). Some environmentsmay encouragefeminist
content but not feminist curriculumtransformation.Others support contentbut do not rewardor encouragefeministpedagogical
innovations.Rust (1994) indicatedthat decisions about sexuality
course content and structureneed to consider multiple factors
such as the political climate of the classroom; presentationof
self and managementof student-instructorrelationships;and relationships with colleagues, administrators,parents, and other
The pedagogical challenges of teaching about sexualities are
numerousand include such issues as creatingand maintaininga
safe and comfortablelearning environment;the use of self and
self-disclosure; resistance; and, paradoxically, diversity of the
students in sexuality classes. An average class will include students with a wide range of experience and knowledge. Some
will have had some sexuality education in high school, but students often acknowledgethatthey learnedlittle from these courses because of their brevity, structuralconstraints,or the obvious
discomfortof those teaching. A few studentswill have extensive
knowledge, often the result of courses offered througha religious
institution. Some concurrentlyare dealing with learning course
material and presenting sexuality education to their own children. Many students' knowledge is primarily experiential, and
some have extensive sexual experience. Individuals who have
suffered sexually related traumaalso may elect to take a human
sexuality course as part of their search for understandingand
healing, especially if the course and instructorhave the reputation of providing a relatively safe environment.
These courses tend to operate on both personal and professional levels and often do so simultaneously. In teaching the
course, one is not just providing informationand preparingpeople to use this knowledge in theirprofessionallives. One student
involved in a discussion of condom usage may be processing
the materialfrom the perspectiveof a professionalworkingwith
teens, but the person next to her may be ruminatingon the fact
that last night she or he participatedin risky sexual activity without a condom. To complicate the process, our experience has
been that in every group of students, there are those who have
been sexually assaulted, are struggling with sexual orientation
issues, are dealing with feelings about terminatingpregnancies,
or are concerned about other sexual issues. This makes it especially importantthat students feel the classroom is a safe and
supportiveenvironmentwithin which to learn and explore their
experiences and to deconstructand reconstructtheir understanding of the materialand perspectives provided.
Providing a Safe Learning Environment
We take the position that, even in a collaborativelearning
environment,it is ultimatelythe professor'sresponsibilityto ensure that the class functions as productively as possible, maxiFamily Relations
mizing the amount of learning that occurs and protecting students from harmwheneverpossible. Although a professor'scomfort level and demeanor set the tone in any class, attention to
these factors is especially importantin a course such as human
sexuality, where many of the issues addressedare highly charged
and where students' own comfort level may be low. The more
comfortablethe professoris talking about all aspects of sexuality
and admittingto not knowing the answer to some questions, the
more comfortable students will probably be. The development
of ground rules early in the semester is anotherway to improve
the functioning of the class. If studentsdevelop the groundrules
themselves, it is much easier to invoke them as needed during
the semester. Among the most useful are guidelines related to
respectful listening and speaking, refraining from judgmental
comments and body language, one person speaking at a time,
and confidentiality. Even though students may agree to confidentiality, it is importantthat everyone understandsthat there is
no way to guaranteeconfidentiality,so that any disclosures students make can be made as knowledgeably as possible.
Other issues related to comfort in the classroom are humor
and the use of sexually explicit material.Differences in students'
individual experiences and sexual scripts will mean that considerable attention needs to be given to these areas. Regional differences exist in styles of humor,and faculty need to be sensitive
to such differences. Although humor can be used effectively in
lessening tension relatedto sexual issues, it also has the potential
for personalization,boundarybreachment,and increasing alienation of class members. Likewise, the use of sexually explicit
materialcan embarrassand alienate students,particularlyif their
exposure to depictions of nudity, intercourse, or same-sex intimacy has been limited. Of course, one would want to avoid
focusing on only one group or one activity when using either
humor or sexually explicit material. Definitions of both humor
and what is sexually explicit themselves are socially constructed
and thereforeoffer excellent opportunitiesfor deconstructionand
In addition to the course's providing a forum for discussing
sexual information,it also often acts as a catalyst for studentsto
feel more comfortablediscussing sexual issues outside the classroom. We talk throughout the semester about communicating
about sexuality and check from time to time on whetherstudents'
comfort levels are changing and with whom they are talking.
Students reporttalking with partners,children, siblings, parents,
friends, coworkers, relatives, and classmates-often for the first
time about sexual issues. Talking about a topic in class provides
an opportunityfor studentsto raise issues with partners,friends,
or family about which they have difficulty initiating discussion.
In addition, students may feel more confident using knowledge
developed in the classroom to try to bring about change.
In general, students' comfort in discussing sexual topics increases in direct relationship to the number and quality of opportunitiesprovided for discussion (Barbour,1989). The nature
of large courses (often with 200 to 300 students) may make
discussion, both with the instructorand with otherstudents,more
difficult. However, some studentshave indicateda preferencefor
the anonymity provided by the large group. A balance can be
sought throughthe use of free-writes (without the classwide redistribution approach mentioned in the Appendix), discussion
groups, small-groupactivities, and the types of questions posed
by the instructorin a large class-questions designed to encourage individual introspectionor to stimulate informal discussion
with those seated in close proximity.
2001, Vol. 50, No. 1
Students frequently respond with resistance and anger to
feminist content and pedagogy, particularlyif the classroom is a
site where experience and theoreticalinformationclash (Currie,
1992). A postmodern feminist approach to human sexuality is
likely to evoke resistance-ranging from philosophicalresistance
to anger with the potential for violence-from some students,
because it throws into question basic concepts such as gender
and sexual orientationand challenges prevailingpower relations.
Students may be asked to deconstructgender positions within
the hierarchies of culture, such as examining women's experiences within patriarchallydefined domains of physical appearance, sexual performance,and interpersonalrelationships(Carter
& Spitzack, 1990). Course materials that place women in the
center of inquiry emphasize that women's sexualities are competent and valuable in their own right. Such revaluing of women's sexualitiesreveals thatothers,particularlyeconomically successful White men, have been in a position to define reality and
Our observations of studentresistance parallelthose reported by Carter and Spitzack (1990) and indicate that resistance
takes various forms. These include blaming and marginalizing
women, defending men, expressing anger at the instructorand
other students, and rejecting information that might cause students to question their own relationships. Through the course,
some studentsmay develop the ability to use informationto critique images and standardsbut may still have difficulty examining or changing their own relationships.Some women students
may feel caught in a double bind, wanting to speak but needing
to remain silent so as not to alienate and angerpartners,potential
partners,or other men (Lewis, 1990). Students' anger may turn
to hopelessness or depressionwith the acceptanceof the multiple
forms of oppression that complicate women's lives. However,
anger may be an importantsource of energy for personal and
social change and may be used to move studentsfrom a passive
stance to one of activism (Culley, 1985). The challenge for the
instructoris to help studentsunderstandthe largersociohistorical
context and to provide them with skills they can use to bring
Resistance often results from looking at life as a series of
dichotomies. Our approachseeks to expand awarenessof a range
of perspectives on sexualities and tries to help students see beyond dualities by taking their concerns seriously and emphasizing that valuing women's experiences and sexual behavior does
not necessarily mean devaluing those of men. We attempt to
incorporateactivities that encourage students to decenter from
their own viewpoints and recognize the values and limitations
of other perspectives in the context of sexual interactions.We
try to work constructively with differences among women, including acknowledging that women's sexual relationships with
men may range from being a source of pain and potentialdanger
to being sites of mutuality, pleasure, and joy (Thorne, Warren,
& Geller, 1994). We believe it is importantto provide information and strategiesfor women who seek to speak to men in their
lives about issues of domination and change (hooks, 1989) and
for men who want to have more egalitarian,loving relationships
with women. In addition, it is important to acknowledge the
complexity of power in sexual interactions, including ways
women use power in relationships(Weis, 1998). Providing this
informationinvolves other challenges, specifically the use of self
Use of Self and Self-Disclosure
Self-disclosure, authenticity,and the use of one's own life
experiences are important aspects of feminist practice (Allen,
1995; Allen & Baber, 1992). However, little research exists on
the effects of self-disclosure by either professors or students in
the classroom. Therefore,individual teachers struggle with how
much personal informationto reveal, how to make those disclosures, and how much disclosure to expect from students (Allen
& Baber, 1992). Allen's article on disclosing about sexual orientation provides a case study demonstratinghow content and
strategy can be combined to use self-disclosure as a teaching
tool. Just as there is growing attentionto self-disclosurein feminist therapy(Simi & Mahalik, 1997), considerationneeds to be
given to issues related to disclosure in feminist pedagogy such
as the content, frequency, and purposes of the disclosures. In
addition,it is importantfor feminist teachers,as they are making
decisions about self-disclosure, to reflect upon their status in the
institution, the subject matter about which they are teaching,
their personal boundaries,and their knowledge and understanding of their students (Allen & Baber, 1992).
Teaching human sexuality courses from a postmodernfeminist perspective offers tremendousopportunities,but also considerablechallenges. The feminist pedagogy we use in the classroom is based upon thinking that brings together subjective and
objective dimensions of knowing. Yet, this may heighten rather
than diminish contradictionfaced by feminist instructors(Currie,
1992). If informationis presented as subjective, studentparticipation may be hindered by the belief that no universal knowledge is possible. In addition, such an emphasis on the particular
rather than the universal contradicts much of the pedagogy to
which studentshave been exposed. Studentsmay view this as a
rejection of objectivity that leaves them with no universal truths
for guiding their daily experiences. S. Harding (1991) has suggested that ratherthan rejecting objectivity outright,we should
broaden our understandingto that of "strong objectivity," in
which scientific inquiry includes an examination of beliefs behind "objective" informationand the relationshipsthat give rise
to and sustain those beliefs. For example, if objective information indicates that most people are heterosexual, it is important
that we examine the social constructionof heterosexuality.We
are also encouraged to begin our inquiry from the perspective
of the devalued and the neglected.
A constructivist approach also encourages us to critically
examine our own views. Much of what has been writtenrecently
about sexuality is constructionist, from Jeffreys (1989), who
views sexual objects and desires as conscious political choices,
to others, who see sexual identity and desire as productsof social
and historical forces. Yet strict constructionismhas been criticized as too rationalof a model, one that has resultedin another
dualism in its reactivity against biological determinismwith regardto sexual identities and desires (Assiter, 1996). For example,
the idea that individuals are subject to manipulationby social
forces has been criticized for providinga negative view of sources of erotic fantasy, such as pornography.Thus, a constructivist
approachto sexuality has also been criticized for providing the
illusion that rape is due to molding by sexual imagery, with the
assumptionthat if pornographywere eliminated,rape would disappear.In contrast,Assiter has refrainedthis dualism,combining
aspects of constructivismand biological determinism.Insteadof
sexual desires and identities (whetherresultingfrom social forces
or biology) being the source of problems, the focus has been
shifted in line with works of Weeks (1986) and Foucault(1979).
Thus, social problems related to sexuality are believed to be
constructed through certain social forces and discourses (like
psychiatry, Catholicism, and medicine) that legitimize discrimination against particulargroups of people. These social forces
are deemed problematic, not the desires and identities themselves.
The ways in which we address these social forces and the
challenges posed by teaching from a postmodernfeminist perspective are critical to our ability to facilitate students' ability to
use the knowledge and experiences providedin class. This highlights the importance of reflexivity-the process of reflecting
upon, examining critically, and exploring analyticallyall aspects
of our practice (Fonow & Cook, 1991). It is an intentionaland
metatheoreticalprocess aimed at improving our work through
critical analyses and corrective measures (Hare-Mustin& Marecek, 1990). Reflexivity is a way to construct and evaluate
knowledge that assumes multiple truthclaims and that recognizes an explicit connection between the knower and the known
(Allen & Farnsworth,1993). This means we attemptto be aware
of and sensitive to connections among students,connectionsbetween studentsand ourselves, and connectionsbetween students
and knowledge (MacDermid, Jurich, Myers-Walls, & Peol,
1992). Not only is reflexivity importantfor those teaching about
sexualities, but also studentscan be encouragedto develop greater reflexivity themselves. Allen and Farnsworthsuggest using
journal writing, guided discussion of study questions, in-class
writing, and making use of the situationat hand to promotecritical reflection.
Reflexivity also implies critical reflection on our selves. We
need to critically observe ourselves as teachers and to be aware
of our relationshipto our students as well as to the information
about which we teach. We need to come to terms with our own
identities and membershipsin privileged groups before we can
help students challenge the conditions of their own lives. We
also need to acknowledge our position as professor as one of
power and to use that power proactively and with great care.
Although feminists attemptto deliberatelydeconstructrigid hierarchyin the classroom, the goal is to share authoritywith students, not to relinquishit (Allen & Farnsworth,1993) and to use
our position of power to liberate, ratherthan subjugate,others
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Sample Classroom Activities
These activities are presented to demonstratehow a postmodernfeminist
perspective can guide practice in the classroom. The sexual scripts, discourse
analysis, and free-writing activities are particularlyuseful in helping students
grasp the concepts of construction,deconstruction,and reconstructionin regard
to sexuality. Promptsand any of the questions below can also be used as journal
assignments.Before using any of these classroom activities, groundrules for the
discussion environmentshould be clarified, modeled by the instructor,and practiced by the students.
Sexual Scripts Activity
As an introductionto a topic, ask studentsto write for 5 minutes on a given
prompt.Have studentscrumplethe paper on which their response is writtenand
throw it into a basket. Students then draw responses out of the basket to read.
After all students have read a response, use follow-up questions such as those
suggested to encourage discussion.
Discuss the pubertalchange that was most memorableto you.
What values or messages from the broadersociety do these reflect?
Why have these messages evolved in this society? Whose interests are
How do these messages constrainthe individual?What are the effects on
society? What would you suggest in order to reconstruct this, pubertal
change experience into one that would be positive and health promoting
for a young person today?
Begin by reviewing the concept of sexual scripts as ideas we integrateinto
our thinking about how, when, where, why, and with whom we participatein
sexual activity. Ask students to generate ideas about the normative scripts for
men and women today. In the process, students often ask questions that can act
as springboardsfor discussion, such as "What age male are we talking about?"
but usually they are easily able to identify two fairly discrete scripts about which
a series of questions can be asked, such as: How did you come to know this
information?What social forces operateto try to ensure that people follow these
scripts? Whose interests are served by people's following, or attemptingto follow, these scripts?What are the risks involved for people who believe they must
adhere to these scripts? What are some ways that people are deconstructingor
writing alternatescripts?What happens when people act on these scripts?What
do you see as being importantaspects of a positive sexual script?What are some
ways we can encourage people to feel more comfortable rewritingtheir sexual
scripts when they so desire?
Why might sports analogies be used in discussing sexual activity?
What do the analogies appearto have in common?
What does this use of language tell us about societal values, beliefs, and
What might be some new analogies you would offer that would remove
sexual discourse from the sports domain and would be less goal oriented?
This activity can be completed using advertising, popular music, jokes,
texts, stories in newspapers or magazines, television shows, movies, or some
combination of these. Ask students to bring examples to class or to take notes
about sexual content, including what was said, by whom, and in what context.
Students can begin processing the information in small groups first, and then
each group can share its observations with the rest of the class. Among the
questions for consideration are: What is the message? What power does the
message carry? How might these ideas shape the way people think or act regarding their own sexuality? What informationis missing from these depictions
of sexuality? Are depictions inclusive, or are certainpeople consistentlymissing?
Whose interests are being served by these depictions? What are some alternate
ways that you might use to talk about or depict sexuality?
What analogies to sports are parts of the language used in discussions of
From what you have heard, observed, or encountered,what are the experiences of menopause like for heterosexualand lesbian women (or midlife
changes for men)?
What overall picture or pictures emerges from the responses you have
In what ways do these reflectproblemsor loss? Changes and opportunities?
How might these images affect your midlife experiences?
What would realistic and healthy images of midlife sexuality look like?
What might we do to make that image more visible and prominent in
Panels of four to five members are useful in examining topics such as
religious perspectives, sexual orientation, prostitution, or aging and sexuality.
Multiple members of any one group should be included so that no single image
is presented. A clergy panel may include a priest, a rabbi, a Protestantminister,
and a Buddhist. A panel on aging should include diversity in gender, ethnicity,
and sexual orientation.To move the usefulness of panels beyond desensitization,
students can be asked to write or talk about their expectations before the panel
comes and then reflect on these expectations after the panel experience.
Encouragestudents to work in groups on a semester project that will "put
their knowledge into action." Examples of projects-such as making a video,
developing a brochure, running a discussion group, creating and presenting a
program in a dorm, and designing classroom activities for children-can help
students identify projects that are of interest and importanceto them. Encouraging studentsto talk with programsin the community about their actual needs
often results in powerful projects, because students see their work being put to
Require a proposal that includes informationabout who is in the group,
the rationale for the action project, what will be done, identified resources for
completing the project (including skills and community contacts), and a statement of what the group hopes to accomplish. Each proposal requires approval
before the group begins work so that ethical issues can be addressed and the
project can be realistically planned to meet the time constraintsof the semester.
At the class before this activity will be used, ask studentsto write down a
brief description, including the context, of a time they were confronted with a
sexual issue that challenged them or one they are anticipatingand would like to
rehearse.Select several situationsand type them before using them in class. This
allows for screening the situations and protects students' identities. Ask for volunteersto participatein demonstratingone way such a situationmight be handled
using informationfrom the course. Switch volunteers and ask the new participants to demonstrateanother way the situation might be addressed.Discussion
can include consideration of why such a situation might be challenging, the
advantages of the different approaches, and the usefulness of the information
included. Allowing students small-group discussion and preparationtime will
improve the qulalityof the rehearsals-modeleing.
During the semester, allocate time to discuss action projects, link them to
class discussion, and problem-solve using the knowledge and resources of students in the class. Students acting as one another's consultants contributeto
greaterinvestmentby all studentsin the various action projects. Plan time at the
end of the semester for studentsto presenthighlights of their projects,including
how they used course information and the outcomes of their projects. Have
students submit a brief, written,final reporton their action projectsthat includes
discussion of what they did, why they did it, how it worked out, and their
observations and conclusions about the project. This allows studentsto identify
a lot of the invisible work involved in these projects and helps them to reflect
on what they have accomplished.
Encourage students to participatein the evaluation of one another'sclass
presentationsof their projects using the same criteriafor evaluation used by the
professor. Suggested evaluation criteria include creativity, relevance to course
content, congruence between rationale and action, integration of course information, and quality of presentation.Studentscomplete an anonymousevaluation
form for each action project.The packet of evaluationsis returnedto each group
with the professor's evaluation of the project.
(Sample forms for each step in the action project process are available
from the first author.)
Kristine M. Baber is an Associate Professor in the Department
of Family Studies at the University of New Hampshire,Durham,
Colleen I. Murrayis an Associate Professor in the Department
of HumanDevelopment and Family Studies at the University of
Nevada-Reno, Reno, NV.
Revised & Resubmitted7/14/00
Family Social Science Graduate Program
* M.A. and Ph.D. degrees are offered.
* Graduate faculty numbers 17; all have a Ph.D. in
their field of expertise.
* Program is nationally rated by family scholars in
educating family theorists, researchers, family life
educators, and marriage and family therapists.
Family policy is also a focus.
* Marriage and family therapy specialization is
offered at the Ph.D. level only and is AAMFT
* Competitive scholarships and fellowships; teaching
and research assistantships available.
* Deadline for applications is December 15.
College of Education and Human Services - Fall 2001
Departmentof Human Ecology
Assistant Professor(V-9). Family/ChildStLudies/Early
and Elementary Teacher Education Teach undergradLiate
graduate courses for Early Childhood/ Elementary Educationi
studentsin Family Studies with an emphasisin Faniily Dynamics,
InterpersonalRelations and Life Span Development. Conduct
research; participate in departmental, college and university
activities,and supervisestudentinterns.Advice stLidents
Developnientor Family Studies. College/Universityteaching and
evidence or research and publications preferred. Evidence of
to edLIcationfor social justice, democratic practice,
For more information, see our Web page:
Graduate Admissions, Department of Family Social
Science, 290 McNeal Hall, 1985 Buford Avenue, St.
Paul, MN 55108; (612) 625-3116 or 1900.
Send letter and resume to: Leslie E. Jenkins;Assistant Dean,
Montclair State University; Box C316 (NCFR), V-9; Upper
Montclair,NJ 07043. (IncludeV# and department)Searchopen
Foundedin 1908, MontclairState Universityserves about 10,000
undergraduateand 3,500 graduatestudents with a distinguished
facultydedicatedto excellencein teaching,researchandprofessional
"Preparing Family Scholars for 30 Years"
2001, Vol. 50, No. 1
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