Gender & Social Justice in Times of Crisis

We are learning about gender and social justice in unusual times — a moment of crisis that is deepening existing inequalities. Iris Marion Young’s “Five Faces of Oppression” emphasizes that multiple systems of oppression operate generating inequalities based on race, gender, class, sexuality, disability, and age. Groups marginalized by these systems of oppression are feeling the impacts of COVID-19 more acutely. In the United States, for example, the Centre for Disease Control reports that rates of infection, hospitalization, and death are higher for Black Americans than white Americans. In Canada, economists note that women are feeling the economic impacts of the pandemic more severely, arguing that women are in the midst of a “she-cession“. People living without homes cannot, by definition, follow orders to “stay home” to avoid contracting COVID-19. As we collectively look to virologists and epidemiologists for expertise, let’s also remember that social thinkers have a role to play in providing solutions that can avoid deepening inequality.

This course has been designed purposefully for online learning. You will work through course content weekly. Thus, you must set aside time to work through content for this course. The teaching team for WGS 102 has built an online learning environment that we hope will help you to thrive.

  • Students taking this course for credit will have the opportunity to complete an optional Community Service Learning (CSL) component, gaining experience working towards social justice in their communities. Information about CSL is available on eClass.
  • Remember to sign up for a discussion group on eClass. Once you have signed up for a discussion group, you will post in that particular group.
  • You will have the opportunity to “test yourself” to assess your basic understanding of key concepts. If you are struggling with the “test yourself” questions, this means you need to do a closer reading of lessons and assigned resources and try again. The “test yourself” questions are not for marks.
  • The teaching team is available for individual learning support via office hours.

After you have completed the lessons and assigned resources for this module, log on to eClass to complete your first discussion board post.

Test Yourself!

Discussion Questions

In our discussion forums for Module One, we will focus on paraphrasing and citing as important academic skills. Paraphrase Young’s reading, explaining each of the five faces of oppression. Also apply what you’ve learned by identifying your own examples of these forms of oppression. Log into eClass to find precise instructions for this week’s discussion.

Big Idea Challenge

Remember! All students, including CSL students, are required to complete two “Big Idea Challenges” this semester. The purpose of these challenges is to encourage you to apply the big ideas and theories you are learning in this course to the world outside of our virtual classroom. For deadlines and details, please see the course outline. You will find a list of challenges and the assignment guidelines here. You will also find the challenges at the end of each module when you see this star logo.



Learn and share one of the following Cree words that can help inform a social justice approach to gender studies. For example, you might learn the Cree word for ‘Edmonton’ and tell us why learning this word helps inform a social justice approach to gender studies. Share the pronunciation of these words as best you can. Remember to relate your response to the big idea for Module One, which is “social justice”. Use course materials, including lessons, lectures, and assigned resources to do this. Here is the list of words from which you can choose:

  • amiskwaciy-wâskahikan
  • wahkohtowin
  • miyowicetowin
  • nehiyaw-iskwew

Here are some links with more resources to help you:


Check out this map at Find your home on the map do some research online to learn a bit about the territory’s history. What’s the traditional Indigenous name for the place you call home? Learn how to pronounce it. Go for a walk. Take photographs or a video of things you notice about your surroundings. For example, what do you notice about the street names, the name of your neighbourhood, your neighbours, the landscape, river, or trees? Are there monuments nearby? Schools? Community centres? Do you think about your location differently after learning a bit about the territory you’re from? How might your new understanding inform your approach to studying gender and social justice? Share your reflections with your classmates. You can upload a video, a photo essay, or an audio recording — you can be creative! Remember to review the assignment requirements carefully before you get started.

GET INSPIRED! Check out Ayla’s reflection on what it means to think about social justice on Treaty 6 territory through her “treaty walk”.

%d bloggers like this: