A small, private “early college” in Massachusetts is starting a new degree program this fall to become “the first intentionally queer-serving college in the world.”
Bard College at Simon’s Rock, the country’s only accredited four-year early college which serves approximately 450 students, announced that the new Bachelor of Arts degree is “revolutionary […] designed for, and by, LGBTQIA+ college students to elevate LGBTQIA+ students and college graduates into leadership roles in school and across the workforce.”
Provost John Weinstein said that “rapidly shifting political circumstances have catalyzed the movement to get [the Bard Queer Leadership Project] underway” a year sooner than was planned, according to The Berkshire Eagle.
“We have students who need it now,” Weinstein added.
BCSR librarian Victoria Bokaer said “Trans people facing denial of basic rights and medical care […] the violence LGBTQA+ and Trans people face is shocking, and even without that (immediate experience), living with the stress of knowing you could face it … it’s a drain on day-to-day existence.”
The Bard Queer Leadership Project curriculum includes the courses “LGBTQ+ College Communities: Past, Present, Future,” “Queer in Field,” “Queer in Community” and “Queer Theory.”
The curriculum isn’t focused “only in Queer Studies, but […] as the combination of queer modes of inquiry with a second academic field,” its website notes.
[The] Bard Queer Leadership Program is not only a program for queer students, [Weinstein] makes clear. Anyone is welcome, and for people interested in allyship, in social justice, in rethinking their own ideas of leadership and in any kind of work that may serve queer folk, the program can give experience and new perspectives.
“We all need to serve all students,” he said. “… Everybody can be part of the solution — and needs to be.”
The idea begins for him in thinking about the college’s mission to provide education for those who don’t have it, he said.
“We’re thinking about what students … have difficulty accessing education, who we reach and who we don’t, who we serve well.” …
Faculty are thinking about the courses they teach and how they might flex or broaden, she said. [Comparative Literature Professor Jennifer] Browdy teaches courses on women in leadership, memoir, journalism and literature — she thinks of her Sister Outsider course, studying writers like Adrienne Rich, Virginia Woolf and Audré Lourde. Their writings can open and reveal new borders.
“Borders become places you want to center,” she said … “They become places of transformation, transformation of society, leaders coming into the community.”
According to his faculty page, Weinstein also is a professor of Chinese and Asian Studies with a specialization in Chinese and Taiwanese theater. He’s also taught courses in women’s studies and queer studies.
There is a “virtual information session” about the Bard Queer Leadership Project on April 4.
IMAGE: Simon’s Rock / Twitter screencap