a i m s   &   o b j e c t i v e s

The aim for the Thematic Network Project ATHENA (1998 - 2001) was to assess and develop the interdisciplinary field of Gender, Feminist and Women's Studies in the framework of European integration. Furthermore, ATHENA aimed to research the current situation in the field of Women's Studies in Higher Education in Europe identifying differences, strengths, weaknesses and areas of good practice.


 Working groups I and II

  • Working group I: European Curriculum Development in Women's Studies, aims at developing joint courses and new European teaching materials in the field of Women's Studies.
  • Working group 2: The Use of New Information and Communication Technologies in Women's Studies Teaching, aims at developing the virtual mobility of Women's Studies and to facilitate and improve the integration of new information technologies in Women's Studies educa­tion, and it studies the use of IT tools and the development of IT teaching materials focused on Women's Studies.
 Original aims and objectives submitted in 1998

  1. To implement the recommendations of the European Subject Area Evaluation in Women's Studies (1994/95) and build on activities, aims and objectives developed at European level and to spread and implement the findings by producing reports, articles, teaching books and manuals.
  2. To further develop and increase the exchange of ideas, expertise, and insights across national borders in order to promote effective discussion and comparison of curricula, methods and material in Women's Studies teaching.
  3. To contribute an added value to the partner institutions, since a large number will be able to use and profit from the expertise of former small scale European cooperation projects. The participating institutions will profit from pooling their expertise in their respective areas and thus allow for transferral of knowledge and good practice. The broader field of Women's Studies, and beyond, will profit through the channels of dissemination of activities, through cooperation with the participating documentation centres and international networks, as well as through the interdisciplinary focus.
  4. To develop competence in feminist education and research in order to contribute to the knowledge and good practices needed for the mainstreaming of European policies on science, technology and higher education, with regard to equal opportunities.
  5. To contribute to equal opportunities policies and practices - in keeping with the European Commission's commitment to equal work - equal pay - as well as to social and economic development.

    The aims and objectives Working group I: European Curriculum Development in Women's Studies, are to develop new European teaching materials in the field of Women's Studies, as well as evaluating existing material and practices.

    The aims and objectives Working group 2: The Use of New Information and Communication Technologies in Women's Studies Teaching, are to develop the virtual mobility of Women's Studies and to facilitate and improve the integration of new information technologies in Women's Studies educa­tion. Secondly, it studies the use of IT tools and the development of IT teaching materials focused on Women's Studies.

The aims and objectives formulated are reflected in the products and results of ATHENA:
  • 'Women's Studies - From institutional innovations to new job qualifications'. A cross-European comparative study of degrees in the field of Women's Studies, and a pilot study on qualifications and the professional outlets of Women's Studies graduates.

    Panel 1.a undertook an inventarisation of Women's Studies curricula, degrees and programmes and the levels of institutionalisation in the European countries, and investigated the professional outlets of Women's Studies graduates. Furthermore, a EU RTD project under the Fifth Framework Programme entitled 'Employment and Women's Studies. The impact of Women's Studies training on women's employment in Europe', was a result of this panel's activites.

  • 'The use of Women's Studies teaching books and materials in Europe'. An evaluation report on European Women's Studies teaching books and materials, and their use in different European countries.

    Panel 1.b furthermore focused on examples of best practices in teaching European Women's Studies, with a focus on the European dimension and diversity of perspectives and traditions. Several workshops, with ATHENA partners and with external teachers in the field, were conducted.

  • 'Configuring European Women's Studies'. An advanced European Women's Studies teaching book. Published with ZED books, London, 2002. (in the future direct order at the ATHENA Central Coordination)

    This panel focused on thematic issues as well as issues of terminology and methodology in the European traditions of teaching and research in Women's Studies.

  • 'ICT's in Teaching and Learning Women's Studies'. A manual on the use of information and communication technologies in teaching Women's Studies.

    This manual reflects the use of ICT's in the practice of teaching Women's Studies, ranging from ICT supported classroom teaching to ICT supported Open and Distance Learning courses. Case studies as well as reflections on the impact of the new Information and Communication Technologies, and pedagogic reflections are included.

  • 'Expanding Horizons'. Database for Expertise on gender and Ethnicity in European Curricula.

    This database gathers information on courses in the field of gender and ethnicity taught in Europe, inventarizing this field of expertise within Women's Studies and giving access to a broad range of courses and contact information for experts in the field.

  • Braidotti, Rosi and Esther Vonk, 'The Making of European Women's Studies. A work in progress report on curriculum development and related issues in gender education and research'. Utrecht, ATHENA/Utrecht University, 2000. (order directly at International Office Women Studies, Utrecht University, Trans 10, 3512 JK Utrecht)

  • Braidotti, Rosi, Esther Vonk and Sonja van Wichelen, 'The Making of European Women's Studies. A work in progress report on curriculum development and related issues in gender education and research' Volume II. Utrecht, ATHENA/Utrecht University, 2000. (order directly at International Office Women Studies, Utrecht University, Trans 10, 3512 JK Utrecht)

  • Braidotti, Rosi, Ilse Lazaroms and Esther Vonk, 'The Making of European Women's Studies. A work in progress report on curriculum development and related issues in gender education and research' Volume III. Utrecht, ATHENA/Utrecht University, 2001. (order directly at International Office Women Studies, Utrecht University, Trans 10, 3512 JK Utrecht)

 5th European Feminist Research Conference

ATHENA was the initiator and one of the main organisers of the 4th European Feminist Research Conference 'Body, gender, subjectivity. Crossing disciplinary and institutional borders'. The conference took place from 28 September - 1 October in Bologna, Italy. Previous European Feminist Research Conferences were held at the universities of Aalborg, Denmark (1991), Graz, Austria (1994) and Coimbra, Portugal (1997). The European Feminist Research Conferences are high-level, multidisciplinary European events focusing on feminist and gender research in a wide but well-defined range of thematic areas. The 4th Conference in Bologna helped to achieve the objectives of the Thematic Network, in that it provided a forum for the exchange and critical appraisal of contemporary fundamental and applied research in the area of Women's Studies, and its implications for the educational level.

The 5th European Feminist Research Conference, that will take place in Lund, Sweden, in August 2003, will give special attention to the issue of the next generations of Women's Studies practitioners. Issues related to the multi-ethnic and multi-cultural structure of contemporary Europe will be highlighted. Throughout this conference the new communication and information technologies will be extensively used as tools and will be, at the same time, discussed as a new area in Women's Studies education and research. The conference is open to experts, established researchers as well as younger researchers, as well as women working in women's organisations, libraries and documentation centres in the field, from all member countries of the EU, associated states and third countries.

ATHENA partners will function as conference workshop coordinators, who will base their workshops on the findings and results of the work undertaken in the context of ATHENA. Thus, the 5th European Feminist Research Conference helps to disseminate and exploit the results of ATHENA. It is the platform needed to fully disseminate the findings and results of ATHENA and to assess the impact of the work carried out and the situation in the broader field of European Women's Studies after the SIGMA reports (1995) and ATHENA (2001). The ATHENA Task Force plays an important role in the coordination of the programme for the 5th Conference, and can thus ensure optimal conditions for the dissemination of the results of ATHENA.


 Target groups

The key groups addressed are:

  • Teachers, students, policymakers and officials within Higher and Further Education Institutions in Europe, including all disciplines in which Women's Studies has been developed;
  • Policy making bodies and Women's Studies associations and organisations in the professional field on the European level, such as Women's International Studies Europe (WISE) and European Network of Women's Studies (ENWS), on the regional level, such as Nordic Institute for Gender Studies and Feminist Research (NIKK), as well as on the national level, such as the national Women's Studies associations in the participating countries;
  • Areas where Women's Studies Education is involved such as women's documentation centres: International Information Centre and Archives for the Women's Movement (IIAV), Amsterdam; Centre for Information on Women and Gender (KVINFO), Copenhagen; Centro di Documentazione Delle Donne,Bologna;
  • Policy making bodies and Women's Studies associations and organisations also in the professional technical field such as Women in Technology (WITEC);
  • Other professional women's organisations such as the sounding board members of the former European Subject Area Evaluation Project: IRIS Network of Training Projects for Women (DG V), International Federation of University Women, European Women's Management Development Work;
  • Policy-making bodies concerned with enhancing the status of women, such as equal opportunity offices at European, regional and national levels.
Special efforts will be made to further stimulate student organisations to participate. Follow-up applications on research both at DGXXII, DGV, DGXII, and other international agencies, will be pursued.


 Intended outcomes

The results will be published and documented in a variety of different products such as working group reports, thematic panel reports, workshop proceedings, scientific articles, teaching materials and electronic publications. The publications will include recommendations for further research and evaluation criteria for the European dimension in Women's Studies education activities.

Concrete expected publications coming out of the thematic panels are:

  • A cross-European comparative study of degrees in the field of Women's Studies, and a pilot study on qualifications and the professional outlets of Women's Studies graduates
  • An evaluation report on European introductory Women's Studies teaching books published in the last ten years
  • An advanced European Women's Studies teaching book
  • An on-line databank containing both information on courses and the tools necessary to use the bank for designing new courses
  • A manual on the use of information and communication technologies in teaching Women's Studies
In the short range, as a result of the activities and production of reports in 1994-97 the field of Women's Studies will develop 'minimum core' European curricula in Women's Studies. These may also be organised as distance education or/and courses in the different institutions elected on the basis of best practice amongst others. Thus, the short direct impact of the TNP ATHENA will be the follow up, in the period 1998-2001, on the activities of 1994-97 by producing a book, a teaching manual, a databank and several reports.

The medium range impact involves the strengthening and broadening of TNP activities so as to reach a balanced regional distribution. Further implementation of the TNP activities will also be sought through the dissemination of the products coming out of the thematic panels among the organizations and groups in society that may benefit from the products of Women's Studies education. Long term goals are to link European research activities in the field with the thematic network activities on education. The aim is to establish a parallel line of development between education and research activities in this areas, so as to make them complementary. Concretely, this aim will be achieved by linking the Thematic Network activities with European projects under TSER (especially Education and Training, but also Science and Technology and Social Integration and Social Exclusion), regional initiatives and projects with players in the labour market. In addition, new educational projects as well as the organisation of conferences will be developed with other professional women's organisations and Women's Studies associations.

Another important spin-off of the network consists in assisting university policy-makers as well as the appropriate policy-making bodies of the European Commissions in formulating educational policies in this subject area. Of special relevance is the link with the Conference of European Rectors, Presidents and Vice-Chancellors.

Finally, co-operation in European wide activities will contribute an added value to the partner institutions, especially those that are newcomers in the European Union.




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