Reproduction: Critical Witnessing at the Intersections of Gender, Race, and Power

Fall 2020
Winter 2021
Freshman - Sophomore
Class Size: 50
12 16 Credits per quarter
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How do the identities we inhabit shape our reproductive lives? In what ways do power and privilege show up in a variety of bodies, including our own? How do categories of race and gender shape how human reproduction is discussed, legislated, and experienced? What methods can we use to critically witness the ways systems of oppression structure our bodies and psychological lives and to imagine more just alternatives?

In this program, we will approach our study of reproduction by attending to the intersections of race, gender, sexuality and class, centering critical race, feminist, queer, and trans perspectives.  Using the lenses of psychology, political economy, sociology, ethics, human biology, public health and visual & media studies, we will collectively dismantle the idea that cis-gender women are defined by an innate reproductive capacity and explore queer and trans experiences of reproductive health. We will discuss the ways in which contraception, abortion, forced sterilization, genetic testing, and other forms of reproductive control both reflect, and have been used to perpetuate, systemic racism. We will also explore how academics, activists, and practitioners have explored possibilities for social change.

Our interdisciplinary journey will include an examination of the biology of reproduction, contraception, pregnancy, and labor, as well as foundational work in reproductive physiology, genetics, and endocrinology. We’ll travel from the cellular (online microscopy and virtual dissections) to the societal (where are the biological male contraceptives?). Students will demonstrate this learning through workshops, biology worksheets, and quizzes. 

Through both formal and informal assignments, this program will help students learn to listen and observe attentively, do close and critical reading of challenging texts, craft clear and well-developed writing, make relevant contributions to seminar discussions, and acquire and demonstrate physiologic reasoning skills. We will read a range of writing from academic articles to blogs, and view films and a few creative projects that illuminate the more experiential aspects of our program themes. 

And….what is “critical witnessing” anyway? When I critically witness, I ask: How does how I see myself shape how I see you? Through writing and interview exercises, students will take stock of their own relationship to the issues we study, and learn how to critically witness each other as well. This will prepare students for Winter quarter, in which they will design and pursue research projects using first-person accounts to explore an area of inquiry related to our program themes and materials. The project could take the form of an audio documentary/podcast, a zine or artist book, or an essay. Students will gain the skills needed to complete a project in their chosen mode.

This program is designed for lower division students and will cover all topics at the introductory level, but we will provide additional structure and challenge for students who have some prior experience with this material.

To successfully participate in this program,  students will need access to a computer and internet.  It's best not to use a cell phone, if possible, as activities, readings, and assignments are more difficult to navigate on a phone. Students can expect our remote teaching to be around 12 hours of synchronous (scheduled) coursework per week, using Zoom and Canvas. 

Our approach will emphasize participation in synchronous (live) sessions; however, if students find themselves unable to participate due to technology, caregiving obligations, economic disruption, health risk, or illness, they can work with faculty to pursue alternate options to earn related credit.

Greener Foundations:  This program will incorporate Greener Foundations in fall quarter, a holistic course designed for first-time, first-year students. Faculty and staff collaborate to bring study skills, academic planning, health and wellness education, advising, and more into the classroom. More information can be found on the college website at  Greener Foundations .


Fall 2020 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

So (16): 10058
Fr (16): 10059
So (12): 10060
Fr (12): 10061
Winter 2021 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

So (16): 20022
Fr (16): 20023
So (12): 20024
Fr (12): 20025

Academic details

Preparatory For

health professions; social work; activism; graduate school in the humanities, sociology, gender studies, and political change

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing

$35 fee in fall quarter and $48 in winter for a required course reader and course materials (will be mailed to students)


In Person or Remote
Remote (F)
Remote (W)
Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting

DateRevision 2020-10-22 $48 student fee added for winter quarter 2020-08-05 This program is now fully remote for fall 2020-05-27 $35 fee added for fall 2020-05-18 Julia Zay added to teaching team