LGBTQ Studies at the Graduate Center

LGBTQ Studies is a rapidly growing, multidisciplinary field of inquiry whose goal is the study of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender peoples, their histories, theories, and cultures, as well as the study of sexuality and its role in the deployment of cultural and social power.

CLAGS offers:

  1. An interdisciplinary concentration in LGBTQ Studies for doctoral students 
    • Ph.D. students are required to matriculate in one of the Graduate Center’s established doctoral programs and must take the core class, Introduction to Lesbian and Gay/Queer Studies, as well as three electives within the concentration’s approved courses list.
  2.  An LGBTQ Studies track within the Women’s and Gender Studies MA Program
    • 30 credit MA program, including 4 CORE COURSES  and 5 elective courses selected from any related courses taught at the Graduate Center; three of these must be in one of the curricular tracks.

LGBTQ Studies is a system of inquiry that examines gender and same-sex desire across and among cultures and histories. Queer Studies views sexuality and gender not as a stable categories of identification or as merely a series of physical acts, but sees desire and gender themselves as a cultural construction that is central to the institutionalization and normalization of certain practices and discourses that organize social relations and hierarchies. Together, the two constitute a field whose best work often weaves together both types of analysis.

Queer Studies insists on a pluralistic, multicultural, and comparative approach in its negotiation within national, racial, ethnic, religious, economic, gender, and age-defined communities. More than a response to this demographic imperative, this field actively seeks to collapse fields of inquiry, to reveal contradictions and confrontations within and among disciplines, and to suggest a new model for academic study within the university. Its development has paralleled the fields of women’s studies and race studies, emerging as a separate area of inquiry in the 1980s, although much work was being done by individual scholars prior to that time. The various names of already institutionalized programs in the field—”Sexuality Studies,” “Queer Studies,” and “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies”—reflect the plurality of the field’s methodological approaches.

The field traverses the arts, humanities, and the social sciences including literary theory, film theory, cultural and social history, psychology, sociology, anthropology, political science, theater, economics—as well as the natural sciences—biology, epidemiology, immunology, genetics. Its antecedents can be traced back to the emergence of “sexology” as a legitimate field of academic investigation and scholarship in the nineteenth century. Sexology coincided with the institution of many now-traditional scientific and humanistic disciplines within the academy. The rationalization of knowledge into discrete disciplines corresponded with the construction of “the homosexual” within these newly emerging discourses as a crime, an illness, a person, and a problem to be solved. LGBTQ Studies, heterosexuality and homosexuality are viewed as identities and social statuses, as categories of knowledge, and as languages that frame what we understand as bodies; as such, the domain of inquiry transcends traditional disciplinary constructs and demands new forms of scholastic endeavors.

PSYC 80103/WSCP 81000 – Foundations of Queer Studies 

Thursday, 4:15-6:15 PM, CUNY Graduate Center, Room 3309

*We have reopened the course due to student interest, and now additional slots are open. Please email Prof. Brown, Prof. Westengard (, and CC-Donna Huaman with your Empl ID to register. This will be on a first-come, first-serve basis. Thank you!


Laura Westengard, PhD & Justin T. Brown, PhD

This serves as the inaugural relaunching of the core required course to fulfill the LGBTQ Studies concentration.

Psychology (Critical Social/Personality Psychology) &  Women & Gender Studies

Course Description:

Foundations of Queer Studies will offer students an introduction into this interdisciplinary, multi-methodological field. This course will ground students in key cornerstone writings and research within the field. After an exploration of queer studies’ beginnings in history, literature, and activist organizing, the class will then weave across the evolution and expansion of this area of study from contributory disciplines such as political science, ethics, philosophy, and psychology. Students will engage with content that investigates the conceptualizations of gender and sexuality and their intersections with concepts like ethnicity, class, age, and geography (i.e. rural/metropolitan; national/global). As an extension of this, the class will critically examine the expansion and reconceptualization of sexuality and gender over time with the consideration of identity formation, social movements, political systems, and cultural shifts. A deeper dive will consider questions around queer methodologies as well as the intersections between literary frameworks, cultural studies, critical psychological perspectives, and health-framed analyses. This course will require students to apply the knowledge and information gleaned to propose a critical application addressing a queer-focused social justice concern/issue.