The Department of Women’s, Gender, and African American Studies is made up of several faculty members within the programs, along with more than 40 affiliated faculty members from departments across the University. Their programs include anthropology, art history, communication studies, criminal justice and criminology, English, history, health science, philosophy and religious studies, political science, psychological science, and more. As an African American Studies or Women’s and Gender Studies student, you have access to a diverse group of teacher-scholars with a remarkable range of interests and expertise, all of whom are committed to your success.

History of African American Studies at Ball State

In the late 1960s, Black studies was introduced as a program at Ball State in the wake of political unrest and the need for representation of Black minorities in the curriculum and faculty. The program’s expansion was delayed in 2010 when key faculty leading the program retired. Former Assistant Professor of History Simon Balto helped relaunch the minor in 2017 under its current name: African American Studies (AFAM). Starting in 2018, the program was co-led by director Kiesha Warren-Gordon, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, and assistant director, Emily Ruth Rutter, Ph.D., assistant professor of English. Currently, the program is directed by Kiesha Warren-Gordon in partnership with our department chair, Sharon Lynette Jones, Ph.D., professor of English. Read more.

History of Women’s and Gender Studies at Ball State

The first Women’s Studies class at Ball State was taught as an interdisciplinary course in the spring of 1972. In 1975, Richard Burkhardt, the Dean of Faculties, tasked the Women’s Studies Committee with creating a program that would house a minor in Women’s Studies. After facilitating the creation of a sufficient number of relevant courses in several disciplines, the committee submitted the new Women’s Studies minor, which was approved in 1980, and began enrolling students in 1981. In the 1990s, more courses were developed, including classes with Women’s Studies course numbers, which led to the launch of the major in 2004. Explore the Women's and Gender Studies program records

Want to learn more?

Take a look at our new history archive featuring program timelines for both African American Studies and Women's and Gender Studies! We have linked some great historical articles and documents from the Ball State University Digital Media Repository alongside photos of important people and events. 

Organizational Affiliation

The Women’s and Gender Studies program is an institutional member of the National Women’s Studies Association (, and has had collaborative relationships with several community agencies including the American Association of University Women, A Better Way (a local domestic violence shelter), League of Women Voters, Indiana University Health/Ball Memorial Hospital, Planned Parenthood, Habitat for Humanity, the YWCA, and the National Organization for Women.