The Simone de Beauvoir Institute, a college within Concordia University, was established in 1978 to provide a foundation for the interdisciplinary teaching of, and research in, Women’s Studies. Beauvoir, a distinguished philosopher and feminist writer, authorized the Institute to use her name and continued to show great interest in its activities.
The Institute has been a pioneer in the field of women’s studies in Canada. Significant accomplishments of the Institute include:
- 1970: First course on feminism given at Sir George Williams campus, entitled “The Nature of Women.”
- 1971: Several new courses were developed at Concordia, particularly in the departments of History, Sociology, Classics, Religion and English.
- 1974: First Summer Institute in Women’s Studies.
- 1977: Feminist activists at Concordia organize for the establishment of a “Women’s College.”
- 1978: The Simone de Beauvoir Institute is approved by the Board of Governors, March 9, 1978. The Institute’s name is used with the approval of Simone de Beauvoir. Mair Verthuy is the Institute’s first Principal.
- 1985: First undergraduate course in lesbian studies was offered at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute.
- 1990s: Change of name for degrees at Concordia. One of the Institute’s former students, Carolyn Gammon, lobbied the university to change the names of degrees granted at the University so that they would be gender neutral. Gammon, a feminist scholar and activist now living in Berlin, did not wished to be conferred a degree with the title Master of Arts, arguing that this language was gendered. Gammon’s efforts finally paid off. Now, students from Concordia can elect to receive a degree with gender-neutral terminology: a baccalaureate, magistrariate, or doctorate.
- 2000: Lillian Robinson begins her term as Institute Principal. Under her leadership, the dynamism and visibility of the Institute continue to thrive. Robinson passed away in September 2006.
- 2007: The Institute produces “Reasonable Accommodations: A Feminist Response.” This statement, produced collectively and involving students, faculty and staff, raised critical questions about the framing of the “reasonable accommodation” debate in Québec.