Mission Course: Knowledge & Power

"Knowledge & Power: Issues in Women’s Leadership,"(01:988:130) a 3-credit course taken by all Douglass students, examines challenges and opportunities confronting women in today’s society. Students are exposed to factors affecting young women’s leadership development and are encouraged to become active and engaged learners and to think critically about their own goals in education.

The course also fulfills the following School of Arts and Sciences Core Curriculum Learning Goals:

21st Century Challenges

  • 21C; a. Analyze the degree to which forms of human difference shape a person's experiences of and perspectives on the world.
  • 21C; c. Analyze the relationship that science and technology have to a contemporary social issue.

Some topics covered in the course include: women’s education and access to educational opportunities; the under-representation of women in science and technology fields; gender and the economy; women’s representation in the media and students’ development of media literacy; the construction of knowledge; and women’s political leadership and contributions to social change.

Students also complete an interview research project which requires that they conduct an in-person interview with a women leader involved in a topic of their choice.

Each "Issues in Women’s Leadership" section includes a low instructor-to-student ratio plus :Voorhees Mentors,"  upperclass Douglass students, who assist students individually. Peer mentors have completed the "Issues in Women’s Leadership" course and can provide assistance with coursework and other issues related to the transitions of first-year or transfer students to Rutgers.

Plenary sessions, which feature a guest speaker, complement the "Issues in Women’s Leadership" experience.  Held on campus in the stately Voorhees Chapel, past plenaries have included lectures by dynamic visitors, including world leaders such as former President of Ireland Mary Robinson and global activist Emily May. Artists, faculty, and students also offer plenaries.

After completing the course, students report that Issues in "Women’s Leadership" helped them:

  • Begin building an enduring community at college
  • Become aware of their unique strengths and abilities
  • Gain valuable academic and career skills for the future
  • Learn how to use the various advisers, mentors and resources on campus
  • Build confidence and creativity
  • Begin thinking of themselves as leaders and achievers
  • Become aware of modern-day issues that affect women in their communities, nation and world

In 2012, "Issues in Women’s Leadership" used the New York Times bestseller, Rebecca Skloot's "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks," as its primary text. Ms. Skloot visited campus for a keynote lecture and a private meeting with Rutgers students in the fall of 2012.

For more information about the Knowledge and Power course, please email Jeremy LaMaster.

The Barbara Voorhees Mentor Program is a peer-to-peer mentoring program which places academically successful upper-class Douglass students with individual sections of our first-year course, "Issues in Women's Leadership." Mentors serve as role models, connecting students with the Douglass community and providing them with support both inside and outside the classroom. Read more »