History of the Department


More than 20 years ago, in the Academic Year 2000/2001, the Statement of Purpose reproduced here served as the academic rationale in the course of developing the former Program on Gender and Culture into the Department of Gender Studies at CEU, and of introducing a PhD Program in Comparative Gender Studies.

Constituting the founding document of our Department, we display the, by now “historical,” document below. At the time, an original draft was discussed with the faculty of the then Program on Gender and Culture and the Ad Hoc International Advisory Committee assembled during the transformation. The Statement of Purpose acquired its final form displayed here (with some minor editing and changes to the title) in September 2001, after substantial reworking on the basis of these discussions. 

Susan Zimmermann
Vienna, December 2022 

Summary Statement

The Gender Studies Unit at CEU is a postgraduate program in Gender Studies which will offer an MA and a PhD degree. In addition, the Gender Studies Unit serves as an organizational base for non-degree studies in various forms, as well as for research and other activities1 in the field.

The Gender Studies Unit seeks to interrelate and to bring together Women’s and Gender Studies emerging from a wide range of disciplines in the social sciences and humanities2. The Unit is built with reference to the large and growing body of high quality research and critical theory being developed internationally in Women’s and Gender Studies in the last three decades. It seeks to contribute to the process of developing Gender Studies as a full scale subject field in its own right which is oriented towards the production of socially relevant knowledge on the basis of epistemologies allowing for diversity and integration.

Teaching and scholarship in the Gender Studies Unit are built on strong disciplinary roots, genuine interdisciplinarity, and on integrative and comparative perspectives allowing for the unfolding of Gender Studies as an inclusive subject field. The critique of dominant patterns and global hierarchies in the construction of knowledge(s), social critique, and the development of an interrelated variety of perspectives on gender and in Gender Studies are of crucial importance in the endeavor to produce insights of regional and global relevance. With Central and Eastern Europe as its focal point, Gender Studies at CEU goes beyond looking at the region as something “backward” in comparison to the “West” or alternatively as something “specific” stemming from “indigenous” factors.

The complexity of gender is therefore understood as a product of the often unequal entangling of global and local forces in the region. Developing integrative perspectives in Gender Studies also means investigating the complex relations between the symbolic and the social order, the entangled relations between gender, race, and class, and the dynamics combining the (re-)production of social persons and societies. Finally, focusing on gender in all of these senses implies developing self-reflective perspectives in Gender Studies.