• The Master's degree in Women's and Gender Studies has renewed its Erasmus Mundus

    July 22, 2011

    In this programme, whose closure was held this week, eight European universities from seven different countries collaborate.

    Awarding of grants to the GEMMA Erasmus Mundus students

    "I think that it may not be another master's degree in the University of Oviedo which has an international and interdisciplinary character". That's how Isabel Carrera, manager of the Erasmus Mundus master's degree in Women's and Gender Studies (GEMMA) at the University of Oviedo, describes the main features of this programme whose closure ceremony took place on the last Wednesday 20th of July. In the event, chaired by the rector, Vicente Gotor, the students got their sashes imposed.

    GEMMA is the first and the only Erasmus Mundus master's degree in Women's and Gender Studies which exists in Europe. It has been taught for nearly five years in Asturias being recently renovated by the European Union. This university master's degree has been one of the four selected in Spain in this year's call and it has to be added, in this case as renovation, to the other two Erasmus Mundus which are managed by the University of Oviedo.

    The master's degrees answers to the increasing requirement of professionals and researches specialized in equality matter which can be found across Europa and, as Isabel Carrera explains, "it tries to train people which have knowledge, on the one hand in equality issues and, on the other hand, a deep theoretical knowledge of the analysis and research in the area of women's and gender studies".

    To achieve this purpose, a wide and varied training programme is offered which is taught by a reference teaching staff in the spheres of Humanities and Social Sciences. When talking about Oviedo, "the University offers a programme which was already consolidated in Women's Studies and which was given a PhD quality mention" Carrera explains. An interdisciplinary academic offer which ranges from Anthropology to Literature, without forgetting History, visual theory or sexuality, being adapted to the equality application policies which is a "transversal" matter in the whole master's degree. This is something which corresponds to the strong overlap that the master's reflects when combining social and academic fields".

    Another essential characteristic of GEMMA is its broad international mobility offer which increases enormously the students' options within a teaching and research framework with recognized prestige. This is a master's degree in which eight European universities from seven different countries take part. The programme lasts two years and students, as in all the Eramus Mundus master's degree, must travel to another European country for a year or a term to get their degree in Women's and Gender master's degree.

    The cultural and academic diversity of these post-graduate studies is also reflected in the students' profile: "It has a professional path. There are people who come because they will work later, but it is quite often that they later work in the ONU, in international NGOs as well as helping in the management of equality policies in their countries. There's an academic path too since many people want to keep on studying and carrying out a PhD, not only in some of the two countries where they perform this master's degree but in their home country when they get back".

    GEMMA's looks

    The number of applications to access to this Erasmus Mundus increases in every new edition. Students come from a score of different countries and it is significant to check how people with so different origins and careers share so similar motivations and interests.

    It surprises the determination, the firm conviction that makes people cross halfway round the world leaving references, environment and family behind. Cases as Gloria Caballero, a Cuban who lives in the USA, a mother, with an impressive academic curriculum (Graduate in English Language and Literature, Translation and Interpretation, with master's degree in Caribbean Literature and PhD in Latin American and Contemporary Portuguese Compared Literature). Gloria saw this master's degree as "a unique chance to learn more about equality and women's studies" and, among all the available options, she chose the Universities of Oviedo and Poland to perform it. The most interesting part of the course is "the programme's dynamism, which includes professors' teaching from the University of Oviedo and from other Spanish and foreign universities, providing the course with a huge discursive, methodological and theoretical diversity which surrounds all the approach to gender studies". But Gloria affirms that the most important thing of this experience has been the changes she has experimented: "I cannot modify policies if I'm not convinced about what I've been studying and the reason I have done it. And, in fact, I have deeply changed when referring to the diverse ways of seeing the world, and with this bag I will try to create a domino effect which can be transmitted to my environment".

    This same boost of modifying the reality that surrounds her brought Rania Benzina (Graduate in Spanish Literature and with a Master's degree in Social and Cultural anthropology) from Tunisia to Oviedo. After studying the first course in Asturias, Rania will spend the next term in Bologna to come back later to the Asturian county town. "I'm absolutely interested in the way in which the lessons are taught; there are many teachers in the subjects, and each of them brings something new. Then, the practical experience in a women's association where you can practice this knowledge". With a wide smile and aware of the lack of knowledge that exists about culture in her country, Rania explains that in Tunisia there is a tradition of women who are interested in gender studies to promote equality. A tradition that comes from her own interest in the matter and which, doubtless, determined her participation in the master's degree. "Since I was a young girl, my mother took me to women's meeting where topics related to the equality sphere and equality were discussed". Now she wants to keep on working in this sense and, after finishing the Erasmus Mundus Master's degree, her intention is to come back home to develop a study about the image of Tunisian woman taking into account "the impression that girls take on their mothers".

    After the course's closure, GEMMA programme is getting ready to start the next academic year with new energies, aware that its students come here to get trained in order to obtain resources with which being able of "changing things" and contribute to implement equality and solidarity values in the world. A committed attitude which is the active, the greatest value of this programme.