Given the growing recognition of the rights of LGBTIQ individuals, and the rejection of discrimination based upon sexuality, our certificate enables students to better understand the complexity of sexuality, the affects of legal and institutional discrimination, and the experiences of those who live non-normative sexual and gender lives. The Certificate in Queer Studies is also designed to fulfill the mission and vision of Florida International University, “as a an urban, multi-campus, public research university serving its students and the diverse population of South Florida.” Therefore, the Certificate places the study of sexual and gender minorities in a global context, and thus will be an important component in the university’s commitment to global leaning.
Understanding sexuality and its many manifestations is crucial in navigating issues on a local, national, and global scale. The Certificate in Queer Studies will give students at FIU an important advantage as humane and inclusive global citizens. The Certificate in Queer Studies fills a particularly acute need both at FIU and in Miami. The University of Florida at Gainesville offers an undergraduate Minor in Theories and Politics of Sexuality through their Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research, but no such certificate or undergraduate program exists anywhere in South Florida. Among our benchmark universities, Temple University offers a Minor in LGBT Studies, Arizona State University offers a Certificate in LGBT Studies, and the University of Illinois at Chicago runs a Lesbian and Gay Studies Project that sponsors scholarship and course development in the area of LGBT studies. The University of California at Irvine, another benchmark university, offers a Minor in Queer Studies very similar to our own proposal, and concentrations in Queer Studies are available at Yale, Denison, Smith and Wesleyan. We would join these and other universities—such as the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Georgia, Duke University, the University of Michigan, the University of Maryland, and the University of Wisconsin, among others—in offering a program in Queer or LGBT studies.
In sum, the Certificate in Queer Studies enables FIU undergraduates an opportunity to enroll in a course of study that examines critically the relationship between queer sexual and gender identities, experiences, cultures and communities in a wide range of global socio-cultural and political contexts across time. The Certificate empowers students to learn through a rigorous study of the experiences of queer individuals and communities globally from historical, literary, sociological, theological, psychological and anthropological perspectives. Working across disciplinary fields, the program encourages students to investigate how non-normative or minority sexual and gender identities and expressions intersect with other categories, such as race, gender, class, nation, ethnicity, and disability. We believe the Certificate in Queer Studies takes FIU “Worlds Ahead.”