Critical Gender Studies in the Life Sciences domains - 4 ECTS

Today, research in the life sciences done to support sustainable development is increasingly interdisciplinary and demands better understanding of roles of gender and other differences, such as race and colonial history. This course directly enables participants to develop, operationalize and integrate a critical gender framework into their own research. The manner in which participants work gender into their own research may then be independently replicated in integrating other relevant concerns.

Organised by Wageningen School of Social Sciences (WASS)

Tue 1 February 2022 until Wed 23 February 2022

Venue Leeuwenborch, building number 201
Course Format On-site
Credits ECTS

Contact person (content): Chizu Sato
Contact person (logistics): Marcella Haan

Registration page

The course (4 ECTS: European Credit Transfer System) covers following topics:

Introduction to Critical Gender/Feminist Studies in the Life Sciences

a. Historical perspective on and development of Critical Gender/Feminist Studies
b. Overview of key concepts: e.g., gender, intersectionality, queering/thinking beyond binary, decolonization, self-reflexivity

Feminist epistemologies in Science and Technology Studies
Decolonizing development
Feminist political ecology
Feminism and social justice

  • Each session involves a half day class and a full day of preparatory and out of class work (1.5 days total). As part of the out of class work within each session, participants are required to prepare a reflection paper. This should take one to two hours.
  • Each session combines reading, lecture, discussion, participants’ presentation and writing a short paper.

This course will use relevant examples to examine issues in the life sciences domains historically, as well as both in the global South and the global North. Each module will use critical gender studies as an entry point and then attend to other intersecting diverse dimensions of inequality, such as race, ethnicity, social class, and nationality.

This course will be a seminar. It will be highly interactive and learner-centered combining short lectures with group-based learning activity, discussion and presentation. A series of instructors with gender and diversity expertise from WUR will discuss the relevance of the topics in the life sciences domains discussed in our class to their own domains.

Participants are expected to write a short statement (max. 1 page A4) by Tuesday, 25 January,  to: 1) introduce who they are in terms of disciplinary background and education; 2) outline gender and diversity issues which are relevant in their own domain of study; 3) questions or issues on gender and diversity with which they would like to engage and why; and 4) expectations of the course and send it to Chizu (

Target group and learning outcomes

This course is intended for PhD students, postdoc, and staff members, across the social and environmental sciences, who want to expand their engagement with sustainable development through increased consideration of gender and diversity. Participants following this course will learn gender and social differences as an intersecting analytical category in the study of sustainable development by applying various perspectives to concrete cases.

After successful completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • understand and historically position current approaches in critical gender/feminist studies, in particular with regards to the life sciences domains (such as, but not limited to food, agriculture, water);
  • develop a coherent critical gender studies framework;
  • integrate and operationalize this critical gender studies into their own research project/interests;
  • directly use feminist/critical gender approaches in doing research in the life sciences domains and draw on the theories and concepts learned to develop and integrate other perspectives; and;  
  • engage in active learning, critical thinking and academic debate.

Assumed prior knowledge

Master’s degree in social, environmental or gamma sciences

Session Times, Place & Outline of the Course in Hours (subject to change)gh

Session 1 Feb 1, 9.30-12.30 Introduction & historical perspectives & development of Critical Gender/Feminist Studies Chizu Sato, Margreet van den Burg, Esha Shah
Session 2 Feb 3, 9.30-12.30 Key concepts I Chizu Sato
Session 3 Feb 7, 9.30-12.30 Feminist epistemologies in STS I Esha Shah
Session 4 Feb 9, 9.30-12.30 Feminist epistemologies in STS II Esha Shah
Session 5 Feb 11, 9.30-12.30 Decolonizing development Jessica Duncan, Trista Lin
Session 6 Feb 15, 9.30-12.30 Feminist political ecology Chizu Sato
Session 7 Feb 17, 9.30-12.30 Feminism and social justice Gemma van der Haar, David Ludwig
Session 8 Feb 21, 9.30-12.30 Key concepts II: issues in feminist research Chizu Sato
Session 9 Feb 23, 9.30-12.30 Presentations & Discussions Chizu Sato, Margreet van den Burg, Esha Shah

Course materials

Required readings will be made available before the course starts by the course coordinator.

Teaching methods

This course is organized mainly as a seminar in combination with the following learning activities:

  1. Lectures to introduce and explain theoretical approaches and concepts within Critical Gender/Feminist Studies as well as contextualize these in the life sciences domains;
  2. Self-study to prepare participants for in-class discussions and to develop the understanding of the theoretical approaches and concepts discussed;
  3. Assignments (one page reflection after each session; and a meta reflection at the end of the course) to critically reflect on the course materials including class discussions and apply these to the participant’s own research;
  4. Discussions led by participants; and
  5. Presentations by participants.

Participants are expected to read and prepare their thoughts on readings in advance of the seminar date (approximately 6-8 hours for each session), and to participate fully in discussions in class. The discussions will be chaired and guided by the instructor(s) of the session together with the course coordinator.

After each session, participants will write one page reflection paper (single space) to critically reflect on the readings, lectures, and discussions and to discuss their relevance to their own research. These reflection papers will be compiled as a portfolio to be used as a basis for their presentations. After the presentations, participants will complete the portfolio with a short meta reflection paper (single space, min 1, max 2 pages), engaging the collection of the reflection papers they wrote and the comments they received during the presentations.

Requirements and ECTS

After successful completion of the course, participants receive 4 credits (according to European Credit Transfer System). The course is pass or fail. In order to pass the course, participants must attend all sessions including presentations. Participants must write all (8) one page reflection papers in sufficient quality; make a presentation on the relevance of the course materials to their own research in sufficient quality on the last day; and write a meta reflection paper (min 1, max 2 pages) on their learning.


All sessions are planned to be held on campus. Depending on the situations, we might need to switch to online sessions. The course coordinator will communicate any change in meeting place via emails immediately. Other sessions will be held via MS TEAMS (or other means). The details will be communicated by the course coordinator in a timely manner.

Course fee

WGS PhDs with a TSP 300
a) All other PhD candidates b) Postdocs and staff of the above mentioned Graduate Schools 600
All others 900

Cancellation conditions

The participants can cancel their registration free of charge 1 month before the course starts. A cancellation fee of 100% applies if a participant cancels his/her registration less than 1 week prior to the start of the course.

The organisers have the right to cancel the course no later than one month before the planned course start date in the case that the number of registrations does not reach the minimum.

The participants will be notified of any changes at their e-mail addresses.