The International Museum of Women conducted two pilot programs in conjunction with schools in the San Francisco Bay Area: Oakland School for the Arts and the University of San Francisco. In both cases, students used the Women, Power and Politics exhibition as a resource for facts, stories, videos and audio, and found that the exhibition enhanced their understanding of their course material.


OAKLAND SCHOOL FOR THE ARTS


I.M.O.W.’s pilot program in conjunction with Oakland School for the Arts (OSA) introduced Women, Power and Politics (WPP) as a course text. Students were required to read two novels—Woman at Point Zero and I, Rigoberta Menchu—as well as selections from the exhibition. Using WPP allowed students to maximize the possibilities of the Internet and new media as an educational vehicle. Exploring the exhibition made it possible for students to connect to women’s stories from around the world and to deepen their understanding of course themes.

  • I.M.O.W. created discussion guides to help students make connections and spark dialogue.
  • Students led in-class presentations of material from the exhibition.
  • Stories, videos, photographs, and podcasts from Women, Power and Politics enhanced the students’ experiences by providing real-life examples of concepts such as identity formation, marginalization, resistance and the nature of power, which could otherwise seem abstract or inaccessible. For example, while reading Woman at Point Zero, a story about a woman in Egypt who falls into prostitution, the students also read “The Curse of Nakedness,” a story about Nigerian women who successfully used their bodies to protest oil companies.
  • Students described the in-class discussions based on the material as some of the most open and engaging discussions of their academic careers. (Read what students thought of the program.)
  • Students created their own multimedia presentations as semester-end projects. Using what they learned from Women, Power and Politics and course literature, students created original art, poetry, music or other creative forms of expression and used technology to make it accessible online in the form of a video, podcast, digital photography, etc. This project not only synthesized what the students learned from Women, Power and Politics and other course materials, but encouraged them to use technology as a powerful and exciting educational tool. See the OSA profile for the downloadable assignment instructions.
  • For more examples of how to integrate I.M.O.W. into your curriculum, see the University of San Francisco community profile.


UNIVERSITY OF SAN FRANCISCO


Students in the “Gender and Politics in Comparative Perspective” course at the University of San Francisco used the Women, Power and Politics exhibition and I.M.O.W.’s Community Forum as a platform to explore how formal and grassroots politics are informed by gender. Instructor Elizabeth Jay Friedman created a community profile for the course, and also had each student create his or her own profile in order to connect to the class via its profile, which became a mini-website for the course.

By creating a community profile, you can establish a destination for your students that is content-rich, dynamic, interactive and effective as an educational tool.

The USF students were able to see and participate in Forum Threads their professor created using the Community Forum.

The open multimedia online platform encourages students to engage in dialogues not only with each other, but with a global community with whom they would otherwise not interact. They are also able to bring videos, images, audio and documents to the conversation because the Forum Threads support all media.

Professor Friedman used stories in the exhibition that connected to themes from her class. When considering political representation, students read about Benazir Bhutto, listened to two differing opinions about her leadership and considered a photo essay about women’s suffrage (among other stories), and responded to questions posed by their professor on the community forum (to see an example, click here).

Another course theme was transnational organizing. Students read stories about a Radical Women Conference, UN Conferences on Women, Girls Helping Girls, CEDAW in San Francisco, Organizing against Violence, The Solidarity Quilt, and Youth Communicating through Art, and compared and contrasted them here.

Students examined the relationship between pop culture, politics and women by considering Marjane Satrapi’s novel Persepolis, the work of Finnish artist and choreographer Maija Hirvanen, Malaysia's everywoman's music videos, and Susan Griffin’s commentary. See how they evaluated the role of media and politics, and their own examples of women’s political representation here.  

An essential aspect of gender and politics is women in political office. USF students read stories Kidnapping a Candidate, The Year of the Woman, Prepping Women for the White House and How to Start a Women's Party, and commented on how they represented different tactics, responded to specific “supply” or “demand,” and whether they found them “gendered female” here.

Women, Power and Politics is an excellent resource for facts, stories, videos, audio and images of women exerting their power around the world. We have organized the stories into the following topics:


Power, Biology, Appearance, Environment, Religion, Democracy, Voting, Elections and Organizing

 

Women, Power and Politics served as an intrinsic part of USF’s “Gender and Politics in Comparative Perspective” course that enhanced students’ understanding of course material, but also allowed students the opportunity to connect with the museum’s global community in an open dialogue and take advantage of the possibilities afforded by the Internet and new media.


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Emma Willard School
Women, Power, and Politics