LOGAN, Utah — Utah State University has named Avery Edenfield as the Inaugural Director for the Center for Intersectional Gender Studies & Research. Edenfield was selected for the position after a search chaired by Vice Provost and Director for Global Engagement Janis Boettinger and including committee members Lili Yan, Amber Caron, Mario Suarez and Latrisha Fall.
“I am delighted Dr. Avery Edenfield has agreed to become the inaugural director of the Center for Intersectional Gender Studies and Research,” said Joseph Ward, dean for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “His subject matter expertise and administration experience have prepared him well for this role. I very much look forward to working with him and the center’s stakeholders in the years ahead.”
Edenfield has been at USU since 2016, working as an assistant professor of technical communication and rhetoric in the Department of English. His research agenda works at the intersections of professional communication and community-embedded workspaces with particular attention to how marginalized communities use professional communication for self-advocacy. His research interests include theories of participation, rhetorics of empowerment and democracy, and community engagement in professional communication. Edenfield has also been involved with the center since its inception as one of the Advisory Board members.
"Avery has contributed to every aspect of the Center's development and evolution,” said Christy Glass, professor of sociology who had been working as the interim director for the center. “From the taskforce to the development of our academic programs and programming priorities, his leadership has been instrumental in enhancing the impact and inclusiveness of our efforts. I am beyond thrilled that he will serve as the inaugural director of the Center. His experience, expertise and vision will be transformational for our campus."
Edenfield served on USU’s Gender Studies Taskforce, which was charged with designing the future of USU's gender programming. Following the founding of the center in August 2018, Edenfield joined the Advisory Board and the Teaching and Pedagogy Committee. In these roles, he helped design and launch three new academic programs: Intersectional Gender Studies Minor, Sexuality Studies Minor, and Inclusive Leadership Certificate. Edenfield has also served as an important voice in the design of USU’s statewide programming, helping to guide priorities and mission in that area.
“Part of what gender studies centers around is thinking about the ways gender, and also race, which is part of intersectionality, how the definitions of those things or conceptions of those things define our daily existence,” Edenfield said. “Those things structure our lives and have a tremendous impact. According to our land-grant mission, our goal is to serve the state. That means going to communities and finding ways we can partner together. I feel like part of what my job is to do is to equip others and build capacity to address these pressing needs.”
In addition to his leadership on the Advisory Board, Edenfield has also been a regular contributor to the Sexuality and the Body Research Cluster, a presenter in USU’s Intersections on Inclusions Series, and one of six researchers in the university’s 2021 Inaugural Research Fellows cohort. Edenfield has also mentored both undergraduate and graduate students on topics related to technical communication and gender, race, sexual misconduct prevention, and transgender health care.
The Center for Intersectional Gender Studies & Research was created in 2019. The center builds on the long and successful history of women and gender programs at USU. The center leaves in place the important mission of the Center for Women and Gender while at the same time broadening and strengthening USU’s long-term commitment to students, faculty and women on campus, in particular. The center also provides a broader focus on issues at the intersection of identities, such as gender and gender identity, race, class, sexual orientation, nationality and disability.
In addition to providing pathways that bring women and members of other historically marginalized groups into full and equal participation in the humanities and sciences, the center aims to support intersectional and interdisciplinary research by USU faculty and students, provide instruction to students and foster a climate that promotes equality and inclusion for all across USU’s campuses.
Coined in 1989 by professor Kimberlé Crenshaw to describe how race, class, gender and other individual characteristics “intersect” with one another, intersectionality is a framework for conceptualizing a person, group of people or a social problem. It considers people’s overlapping identities and experiences in order to understand the complexity of prejudices they face.
For more information on the center, visit usu.edu/intersections.
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