Antiracism Reports

During the 2018-19 AY, Colorado College underwent an external review of racism conducted by Dr. Roger Worthington, Executive Director of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education, with a final report and recommendations delivered that spring. Subsequently, the Dean of Faculty has asked each academic program and department to submit annual reports detailing goals, steps taken to accomplish those goals, successes and challenges, and preliminary plans for the subsequent year. 

*First a note on the change of the title: Feminist and Gender Studies Program to Department. Per the recommendation of the external reviewers and in anticipation of our search for a senior-level hire, we requested that the Dean’s Office consider this change. In Block 8, the official announcement was included in the consent agenda and the Program has officially been re-branded. For the remainder of this report, I will refer to the “FGS Department” following this change.

This year was focused on maintaining the program as thriving and successful through some significant leadership changes. Dr. Heidi Lewis stepped down as Program director and worked full time in the Crown Center and as Director of the Mentoring Alliance Program that she founded. Dr. Naomi Wood (“I”) stepped in as Director for Fall, 2022 and co-director with Dr. Nadia Guessous for Spring, 2023. In addition, we transitioned to a new administrative assistant, Tiffany Moore, at the beginning of the academic year.

During this academic year we were able to accomplish many goals, despite having only one full-time tenure-track faculty teaching in the Fall (Dr. Kumar) and a rotation of six separate Block visitors throughout the year. We are proud to have been able to maintain our proposed course schedule and curricular integrity through hiring Block visitors who contributed in meaningful ways. All visitors were faculty of color and/or LGBTQ-identified and, in the case of “Black Feminist Theory” we were able to negotiate with the Dean to offer a fully remote course as we faced the possibility of class cancellation.

In addition, we were able to advocate, with the support of Directors in the other ID House ID Programs to retain our new administrative assistant through increasing her contract hours to a full-time, 12-month position. We had previously hired and lost our former assistant in less than a year due to the low wages and inconsistent work hours. Given the growth of the three programs, we were able to make a case on our behalf and transition this staff position. This change will make a huge difference in continuity for the three programs sharing the ID House and administrative assistance.  

The FGS Department continues to evaluate its curriculum and course offerings to fit the Vision and Mission and consistently contribute to the ADEI initiatives on campus. New this year, Dr. Kumar taught an Equity and Power-designated course “Sex Cultures, Sexual Politics” and we revised the Capstone Project model to make the process more transparent to students and more sustainable for faculty project directors. Finally, we continued the FemStem series with leadership from Dr. Kumar in collaboration with Dr. Natalie Gosnell, Assistant Professor of Physics. The symposium, “Matter and Meaning: Transdisciplinary Collaboration as a Feminist Practice” highlighted a five-years-long collaboration between visiting artist Janani Balasubramanian and Dr. Gosnell to demonstrate the benefits of sustaining a long-term and rigorous practice of co-creation across disciplines and speak to how their work activates many of the strategies advocated by scholars in feminist science and technology studies.     

Download PDF

When Dr. Heidi R. Lewis transitioned to Assistant Professor during AY 2012-2013, the Feminist & Gender Studies Program “Statement on Scholarship” had not been reviewed and revised since the program’s only previous faculty member was reviewed for tenure. Primarily since Dr. Lewis was the only tenure-track faculty member in the program at that time, she was tasked with drafting a new statement, which was approved by the program’s directors and core faculty and implemented during AY 2013-2014. That statement was then used to evaluate Dr. Lewis at third-year and tenure review, as well as Drs. Nadia Guessous and Rushaan Kumar at third-year review.  

Quite frankly, we all (including Dr. Lewis) were alarmed but not surprised by the ways the previous statement was written from a place of fear, anxiety, and defensiveness, the latter which resurfaced when we first discussed revising the statement just prior to Dr. Kumar’s third-year review. However, we recognize this to be characteristic of a hierarchical academic culture that results in early career faculty confronting both real and imagined threats concerning their ability to secure tenure. This is uniquely exacerbated for faculty with marginalized identities, especially those working at predominantly white and economically affluent institutions, such as Colorado College. Upon serious reflection, Dr. Lewis spearheaded efforts to revise the statement this fall in collaboration with Dean Peony Fhagen to attend to the program’s unprecedented growth and development.  

Our most recent revisions support the college’s developing antiracism commitment, especially the fourth goal, “Support and Engage All Faculty and Staff in Antiracism Work.” Since the antiracism commitment notes faculty of color “have consistently done the heavy lifting, making CC a stronger community” and because “that work must be honored and recognized,” we revised our statement with particular attention to assisting the college’s efforts to “develop evaluation criteria and reward systems to ensure that antiracism work is considered in annual reviews for faculty.” We took this approach, because we agree that if “the work of antiracism to be successful, all faculty and staff must see it as part of their responsibilities to the college, and as something for which everyone must be held accountable” (our emphases). Along these lines, “Our Plan to Become an Antiracist Institution” defines antiracism as “the active process of identifying and eliminating racism by changing systems, organizational structures, policies, practices, and attitudes so that power is redistributed and shared equitably.”  

During our review of the program’s previous statement, we were encouraged by Dr. Lewis’ attempts to address the ways our discipline has attended to the ways academic systems, structures, policies, practices, and attitudes have relegated intellectuals with subjugated identities and their myriad ways of knowing to the margins. For example, she references the program’s mission statement at that time, a statement she also wrote, which notes the ways our field attends to “sexuality, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, age, religion, physical embodiment, and other social markers” in relation to its “interrogations of power, inequality, and privilege.” However, our revised statement converses with “Women’s Studies Scholarship: A Statement by the National Women’s Studies Association Field Leadership Working Group” to more carefully address the ways “our field draws from, builds on, questions, and transforms conventional disciplinary approaches” and aims to “examine how knowers and systems of knowledge are situated […] requiring us to develop new modes of inquiry and engagement, pose questions, and create new knowledge that centers subjugated ontologies and epistemologies.”  

Similarly, in the previous statement, Dr. Lewis acknowledged the significance of “activist collaboration both within and outside of academe” and the ways “our commitments cannot be confined within our own campus,” including the likelihood that faculty in our discipline will publish in “alterative media as frequently as they publish in traditional academic spaces.” However, during our review, we acknowledged the ways this takes a problematic “add and stir” approach, merely creating opportunities for this kind of work to be honored in addition to traditional academic work rather than reconsidering the evaluation of the work itself. Additionally, the scholarly expectations at third-year, tenure, and Full Professor review in the 2014 statement were not considerate of invisibilized labor or teaching expectations at Colorado College, which impact faculty of color disproportionately. Our revised statement addresses this problem by noting our work “includes but is not limited to traditional scholarship and also participatory action research, myriad forms of activism, artistic and creative expression, public performance, archival research, lab-based teamwork, and collaborative editorial work.” Further, it notes “our work may also be recognized as significant by intellectuals outside the academy.”  

Dean Fhagen suggested we more clearly define “non-academic” to aid our peers in understanding the way our field is distinct, but not always entirely different, from others for which this particularity is not of paramount concern. We did so briefly in the requirements sections for third-year, tenure, and Full Professor review by writing that faculty in our program should have “presented their work or contributed their expertise to an audience outside higher education” for a specified number of times, noting this may include “a non-profit organization or high school” in the third-year review section. Further, including the “such as” caveat allows the candidate and/or program director or file chair to identify other relevant audiences and projects that fulfill this requirement.  

Dean Fhagen suggested we be more thoughtful about professional scaffolding, which resulted in significant revisions regarding publications and grants or fellowships. More specifically, we now require third-year review candidates to “submit at least two peer-reviewed works for review” and to have “applied for at least one (internal or external) grant or fellowship” (our emphases). Subsequently, we require tenure candidates to “have at least one peer-reviewed work accepted for publication since third-year review” and to “have received at least one (internal or external) grant or fellowship since third-year review.” Now, the statement appropriately honors process, which is critical for early career faculty adjusting to their post-graduate school careers and liberal arts teaching and learning, especially that which is particular to Colorado College, such as the Block Plan. Additionally, Dean Fhagen also identified the lack of book manuscripts in our Full Professor requirements, which is particularly important since Dr. Lewis recently published her first book, which would not have counted per the previous statement, which required candidates to “have at least three peer-reviewed articles or book chapters related to the discipline in print.” 

Download PDF

As part of our collective commitment to aligning the Feminist & Gender Studies Program (FGS) curriculum and related pedagogical praxes and materials with our new identity as a program comprised of three core faculty, as well as the college’s ever-developing commitments to antiracism, we recently revised our course evaluation questions. Previous course evaluation questions, while effective in measuring student and faculty success in any given course, did not allow us to gauge the coherence of our curriculum, especially in light of the recent updates to our major and minor. Now, the revised evaluation supports the fourth and fifth goals of the college’s antiracism commitment to “support and engage all faculty and staff in antiracism work” and to “make antiracism a central value in CC’s academic and co-curricular programs,” respectively.  

Additionally, our evaluation questions have now become a teaching tool wherein students are encouraged to implicate themselves in the success and/or failures of a course. For example, by asking students to “describe some ways you contributed to the intellectual growth of you and your peers,” we invite students to think about their responsibility in equitably sharing the intellectual and emotional labor of our courses regarding our mission to foster “inquiry into structures and modes of power as they are mediated by gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity, class, caste, nation and citizenship, age, and ability.” As a program comprised entirely of faculty of color, our course evaluations now support us in our antiracist pedagogy and work. Such questions also help mitigate the well-documented ways students at predominantly white and economically affluent institutions can and do weaponize course evaluations against vulnerable faculty with marginalized identities whose teaching challenge students to learn through discomfort. Further, our course evaluations attend significantly to the fifth goal of the college’s antiracism commitment, especially by aiming to “address gaps and ensure that principles of diversity, inclusion, and antiracism are helping to guide course offerings” by inviting students to directly evaluate if, for example, “the professor helped [the student] gain a greater understanding of intersecting structures and modes of power such as gender, sexuality, race, class, and nation.” Thus overall, our course evaluations are now much more in line with ours and the college’s mission and vision. Please see our revised course evaluation tool below for more specific examples: 


  1. FGS aims to foster mindful, equitable, and collaborative teaching and learning. Describe how this course successfully met some of these goals.
  2. Describe some ways you contributed to the intellectual growth of you and your peers.
  3. Describe how this course fostered interdisciplinarity by synthesizing information and perspectives from different fields of study.
  4. Describe how one particular reading/assignment/discussion/activity helped you think about an issue differently.
  5. What was your least favorite thing about this course?
  6. What was your favorite thing about this course?  


  1. The professor aided your learning and engagement with the course material.
  2. The professor clearly explained the basis and criteria for grading.
  3. The professor encouraged students to contribute to the course in myriad ways.
  4. The professor helped develop my ability to analyze and interpret different sources of information.
  5. The professor helped develop my ability to think critically and to articulate my ideas.
  6. The professor helped me gain a greater understanding of intersecting structures and modes of power such as gender, sexuality, race, class, and nation. 

Download PDF

While the work Professor Heidi R. Lewis has done since 2010 has been intersectional with a clear commitment to studies of race and racism, that work continued significantly when she was joined by Professor Nadia Guessous in 2015 and Professor Rushaan Kumar in 2018. As a result, in 2018, the program made this collective commitment more explicit with the development and implementation of a new mission and vision: 

Feminist & Gender Studies fosters inquiry into structures and modes of power as they are mediated by gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity, class, nation and citizenship, age, and ability. Through teaching, scholarship, and service, we study and develop critical interdisciplinary and feminist theories and practices in collaboration with artists, activists, and scholars at Colorado College and beyond. 

Feminist & Gender Studies aims to embody a feminist ethos of critical engagement and responsiveness that is attentive to shifting relations of power; to be an intellectual, political, and creative space for the pursuit of exemplary collaborative initiatives locally, regionally, nationally, and transnationally; and to remain conversant with myriad intellectual legacies while reimagining the possibilities of feminist knowledge and practice. 

This commitment manifests in nearly all courses offered by the Feminist & Gender Studies core faculty, such as Black Feminist Theory, Critical Whiteness Studies, Masculinities, Gendered Controversies, The Politics of Transnational Feminism, and Transnational Sexualities. Over the past 10 years, most of the core and elective courses offered by the core faculty have supported the college’s efforts to provide a critical curriculum, as they have fulfilled the former Diversity requirement, the former Social Inequality and Global Cultures requirements, and the current Equity & Power requirement.  

This commitment also manifests in the regular and special programming organized by the core faculty. For example, in the Critical Gender & Sexuality Studies Reading Group organized by Professor Guessous, faculty across the college have gathered to read and discuss texts like Jennifer C. Nash’s Black Feminism Reimagined: After Intersectionality, Lilia Soto’s Girlhood in the Borderlands: Mexican Teens Caught in the Crossroads of Migration, and Mimi Thi Nguyen’s The Gift of Freedom: War, Debt, and Other Refugee Passages. Similarly, in the Transnational Feminist Film Club organized by Professor Kumar, faculty across the college have gathered to watch and discuss films like Stephen Frears’ My Beautiful Laundrette, Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden, and Anup Singh’s Qissa. Additionally, the FemSTEM Symposium co-organized by Professor Lewis and Dean Andrea Bruder, has highlighted the relationships between feminism, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics by featuring guests, such as Cynthia Chapple (Founder and Managing Director of Black Girls Do STEM), Dr. Deboleena Roy (author of Molecular Feminisms: Biology, Becomings, and Life in the Lab), and Desirae Martinez (‘13), the first student to graduate with a major in Mathematics and a minor in Feminist & Gender Studies. 

Download PDF

show all / hide all

Click here for more information about the Colorado College antiracism commitment.
Report an issue - Last updated: 08/17/2023