Center for Women’s and Gender Studies


Through curricular and co-curricular programming, the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies (CWGS) provides opportunities for the campus community to examine cultural assumptions about gender as it intersects with ethnicity, age, socioeconomic class, dis/ability, body size and sexual orientation while facilitating critical thinking about the interrelationship of gender and power. For questions or to join the program, contact Dr. Lisa Johnson, director of Center for Women’s and Gender Studies.


The vision for the Women’s and Gender Studies Program includes an increase in the number of students pursuing the women’s and gender studies minor, cognates, and concentrations. Students of women’s and gender studies will be able to complement their major coursework in any discipline, developing specialized understanding of women’s and gender contributions and experiences. To enact this vision, new courses in women’s and gender studies will be developed that support our content standards and the University’s metropolitan mission.

Lisa Johnson, Ph.D.
Director of Women’s and Gender Studies

Dr. Johnson is a Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and Directs the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies at USC Upstate, where she teaches courses in feminist theory, feminist disability studies, girlhood studies, LGBTQ studies, and other electives in the Women’s and Gender Studies minor. 

Dr. Johnson has developed programs on campus and in the community to introduce the field of Women’s and Gender Studies as an exciting set of critical thinking skills and fresh perspectives on gender and power in personal relationships, politics, workplaces, educational settings, and media culture. She has received grants from the South Carolina Humanities Council and the Spartanburg County Foundation, and she has been the recipient of several awards at USC Upstate, including four Tapestry awards for Multicultural Program of the Year.

Her current research on neurodivergence and feminist psychiatric disability studies appears in Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. She served as Chair of the Promotion and Tenure committee in 2018-2019 and is currently Faculty Chair (2020-2022). 

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  • Center for Women’s and Gender Studies Event Calendar

    The Center for Women’s and Gender Studies provides timely and rigorous co-curricular events to enhance the academic culture of our campus and to provide networking opportunities for our diverse community. All events are free and open to the public and have relevant content for Women’s and Gender Studies minors and other students interested in gender as it intersects with additional categories of inequality. They can be used for extra credit at the discretion of the professor. Come celebrate this dynamic site of interdisciplinary and multicultural academic inquiry at USC Upstate!  

    March 26

    Women’s History Month 2024

    Sharing Our Stories as Women of Color Full Professors
    12:30-1:30 p.m. | Health Education Complex (HEC) 2023
    El Centro features Drs. Carmen V. Harris, Esther Liu Godfrey, and Araceli Hernández-Laroche, with moderator Gabrielle Drake, LLC Assistant Chair and World Language Coordinator. Light refreshments served.

    March 12

    Women’s History Month 2024

    Digitizing Hand-written Letters: Working with Students to Preserve Women’s – Tammy Pike
    12:15-1:30 p.m. | Campus Life Center Ballroom
    All are welcome to join us for a presentation and workshop on this innovative approach to teaching women’s history. Tammy Pike, an instructor of history and women’s and gender studies at USC Upstate, has developed a project that gives students hands-on experience collecting, digitizing, and preserving handwritten letters from the Margaret Payne collection at the Piedmont Historical Preservation Society (dated between 1905-1945).

    January 30

    Barbie Revolution – panel discussion, costume contest and photo booth!
    12:15-1:30 p.m. | Health Education Complex (HEC)
    As the highest-grossing movie of 2023, Barbie’s success made waves in society, relocating topics confined to Women’s and Gender Studies classrooms onto the big screen. Our panelists will discuss how the film portrays topics such as gender inequity in politics and work, motherhood, sexual harassment, femininity and masculinity, intersectional identities, and more. 

  • Lucy Stone Award for Outstanding Minor in Women’s and Gender Studies

    The Lucy Stone Award for Outstanding Minor in Women’s and Gender Studies was developed in the 2008-2009 academic year. The award is named after a prominent abolitionist and female suffragist in the United States. Lucy Stone (1818-1893) was the first woman from Massachusetts to earn a college degree. She helped organize the first National Women’s Rights Convention. Called “the orator” and “the morning star of the woman’s rights movement,” Stone published her radical views in the Woman’s Journal and delivered a speech that sparked Susan B. Anthony to take up the cause of women’s suffrage. Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote, “Lucy Stone was the first person by whom the heart of the American public was deeply stirred on the woman question.” Stone was also the first American woman to revert to her maiden name after marriage.

    • 2018 Winner: Tara Shae Turner for her enthusiastic community service with the Girl Scouts and her academic presentation on service-learning in Girls Studies at the Southeastern Women’s Studies Association.
    • 2017 Winner: Ashley Matheson, for her excellent academic work during her time at Upstate and for her unwavering commitment to the WGS program and the Triota Honors Society.
    • 2016 Winners: This year saw the program’s first “tie” for this award. Monique Gardner received this honor for her excellent course work and presentations at the UNC-Asheville queer studies conference in 2015 and at the Southeastern Women’s Studies Association conference in 2016. Ariana Sanchez received this honor for her leadership both in class and in extracurricular activities, including being the first CWGS representative on the student senate.
    • 2015 Winner: Stacey Gullion, for her outstanding academic work, including a presentation on feminist heterosexualities at the Southeastern Women’s Studies Association in Boca Raton, Florida, and her service to Triota as a tutor for WGST 101.
    • 2014 Winner: Chase Moery for his well-rounded scholarly profile, which included bold reflection papers in a variety of WGS courses, an internship as Bodies of Knowledge symposium organizer and a multi-semester commitment to community outreach with Girls on the Run. Chase was also a founding member of Triota.
    • 2013 Winner: Samantha Swordenfor her three-semester project on beauty culture and feminist disability studies.
    • 2011 Winner: Beth Tevault for her scholarly research on representations of madness in the Victorian novel.
    • 2010 Winner: AJ Jones for his scholarly project on the politics of diversity on university campuses.
    • 2009 Winner: Lindsay Harris for her research and presentation on bisexual epistemology at an international feminist philosophy conference.
    • 2008 Winner: Andrea Miller for consistently producing graduate school level work throughout her undergraduate career at USC Upstate.

    Emma Goldman Award for Outstanding Interdisciplinary Major With an Emphasis in Women’s and Gender Studies

    The Emma Goldman Award was developed in the 2008-2009 academic year to reward high achievement in IDS/WGS. The award is named after a famous Marxist feminist activist who developed a philosophy of feminist anarchism, a political philosophy that foregrounds individual and collective will over the will of the government. Emma Goldman (1869-1940) is known for her vitality and charisma and was admired by her allies for being a radical free-thinker.

    These characteristics reflect the independent spirit that leads some of our USC Upstate students to create a major of their own – in the absence of a Women’s and Gender Studies major – by majoring in IDS with a WGS concentration.

    • 2011 Winner: Sarah Wilson for her scholarly research in queer/feminist theories of (trans)sexuality.
    • 2009 Winner: Andrea Miller for her scholarly research in Marxist feminism and critical race theory.

Office Hours

Monday – 9:30 a.m.- 5 p.m.
Tuesday – 9:30 a.m.- 5 p.m.
Wednesday – 9:30 a.m.- 3 p.m.
Thursday – 9:30 a.m.- 5 p.m.
Friday –  9:30 a.m.- 5 p.m.

Located in the Media Center – Room 243, the Center provides a comfortable and professional space for gender-related student organizations to meet and for Women’s Gender Studies minors or minor students to study. To reserve this classroom for a meeting, email Dr. Lisa Johnson.