‘Our hope is to galvanize academic and community-based knowledge into social change’
As part of the new major, Marlihan Lopez joined the institute this year as undergraduate program and internship coordinator. Lopez mentors students, builds relationships with organizations working around sexuality issues and coordinates community outreach events.
“Having Marlihan, truly a trailblazing leader in the community, is an invaluable asset to our students and to the university. Her connections to local organizations working in a number of areas will support students in engaging in community-based knowledge and building bridges between academia and the community,” Manning adds.
Lopez also assists students in finding a local organization to complete their practicum, a requirement of the program.
“The practicum placement gives students the chance to apply their academic skills outside of the classroom,” she says.
“Students will acquire new knowledge, broaden their networks and collaborate on projects identified by the community organization that relate to sexuality. Through these collaborations, our hope is to galvanize academic and community-based knowledge into social change.”
‘I knew this program was for me’
Hugo Vaillancourt, one of the first students to enroll in the major this fall, has been a youth, addiction, family and housing worker for the past 15 years. He hopes to apply what he learns in the program to a career in sex education.
“From the moment I heard years ago that a Major in Interdisciplinary Studies in Sexuality was in the works, I knew this was the program for me,” Vaillancourt says.
“The fact that it has queer studies and sexual diversity as part of its DNA aligns with my interests and values. I believe it will help me become a better educator and build my own brand of sex education — one that is frank, inclusive and goes far beyond what is taught in secondary school.”
He adds that he is complementing his studies with a Major in Human Relations, with the aim of working in program development and implementation for non-profits and government in areas of sexual health and well-being.
The new major’s areas of focus are expansive. They include the study of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, intersex, queer, asexual, heterosexual, pansexual, monogamous, non-monogamous and polyamorous lives at the intersections of feminism, gender, race, class, politics, culture and more.
Courses highlight Indigenous, Black, migrant, diasporic, transnational, decolonizing, postcolonial, disability and other critical frameworks through art history, film, biology, religion and sociology, among other disciplines.
“This major can shape the role and kinds of work graduates pursue after their studies,” Kouri-Towe says.
“From working in community organizations to media and cultural events, students can integrate their knowledge of sexuality into a wide array of career paths. Many students will be interested in pursuing professional programs after completing their BA, bringing their knowledge of sexuality to the fields of law, health, social work and beyond.”
Learn more about Interdisciplinary Studies in Sexuality at Concordia’s Simone de Beauvoir Institute.