Faculty of Arts, Elizabeth LaCouture

HKU offers new undergraduate Gender Studies programme

May 21, 2018 / by / 0 Comment

The Faculty of Arts at the University of Hong Kong will offer Gender Studies as a major and minor programme to undergraduates starting this September. The programme has been in development for more than a year and was approved by the HKU Senate in early May.

Planned core courses include “Introduction to Gender Studies”, “De-colonising gender”, “Gender, race and beauty”, and a capstone research project, to be completed over a four-year Bachelor of Arts degree. There will also be an option for credit-bearing internship, and potentially project-based courses.

Programme director Elizabeth LaCouture, an assistant professor at the Department of History, said that Gender Studies is both a subject of study and a category of analysis.

“As a subject of study it includes gender and sexuality, women as subject. As a category of analysis, it intersects with other categories to analyze society and power within social structures; so intersecting with race, social class, ability and these other vectors,” she said.

Over the past year LaCouture has been teaching an introductory course on gender, and said the first-year students she met “already [had] a very sophisticated idea about gender and sexuality.” Prior to joining HKU in September 2017, she taught history and East Asian studies at Colby College in the US.

Dean of the Faculty of Arts Derek Collins noted that HKU has existing courses on gender issues, and Gender Studies will be an opportunity to “marshall all these resources and develop a comprehensive programme.”

“What I most want for the new programme is for students to understand that Gender Studies is a rigorous discipline of study, historically informed, and is the kind of programme that every world-class university in the world has had for decades. It is time for HKU to enter that league,” Collins wrote in an email.

LaCouture said the new programme was approved with “overwhelming support,” and credited HKU’s involvement with HeForShe as a positive influence. Nevertheless, she said that Gender Studies at HKU was long overdue. (The Chinese University of Hong Kong established a Gender Studies programme in 1997, and the Hong Kong Baptist University launched a Gender Studies concentration in 2017.)

“I found materials of scholars collecting books and classes on Gender Studies in Hong Kong [from] as early as the 1980s,” LaCouture said. “So we have been talking about it for a very long time at HKU, and this was the right time to finally start a programme.”


Law and literature student at HKU.