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Vulnerability, Gender and the Ethics of Care


Admission requirements

Required course(s):

Introduction to Gender Studies and a relevant 200-level course offered either in the Gender Studies Minor, CHS, WP, IJ or GPH Majors.


If there was any doubt about the vulnerability of the human condition and the fundamental role that care plays in the reproduction (and survival) of society, the experience of the COVID pandemic should be enough to clear it. Gender (and the inequalities derived from it) has also become even more salient as result of the lock down, exposing the prevalence of domestic abuse and violence, as well as the precarious condition affecting care workers. In contexts of increase vulnerability due to the pandemic, the violence of exclusion and the spread of systemic risks (from domestic violence to civil wars to environmental change), there is an urgent need to reflect about the intersections between vulnerability, gender and care as key axes to imagine alternatives to navigate and adapt to this uncertain times in more human ways.

This course is a systematic examination of current scholarly debates about vulnerability and care, using gender as analytic lens. Against the dominant liberal premise of individual autonomy, this course explores the fundamental inter-dependence and eco-dependence character of sociality and individuality. Gender is approached from different perspectives ranging from feminism to ecofeminism, including post-structuralist and post-humanist thinkers. The aim of the course is to engage in these scholarly debates in connection to concrete case-studies and the ethical dilemmas derived from them.

Course Objectives

The main objective of this course is to develop in students an analytical capacity to reflect about gender, vulnerability and (the ethics of) care, and the ways in which they manifest concretely in daily life affairs.

In terms of contents, upon completion of the course you will:

  • Identify the connections between violence and vulnerability, particularly using gender as a key descriptor of this relation.

  • Explore and understand the relationship between gender and the embodiment of vulnerability and care.

  • Learn the relevant theoretical perspectives in the study of vulnerability and care (as ethics and practice), from feminist to eco-feminist and post-humanist perspectives.

In terms of skills, this course will serve you to:

  • Develop the capacity to elaborate a solid and sound argumentative position regarding issues related to the course content.

  • Learn to communicate your position in speaking and writing.

  • Practice team-work skills to effectively conduct and present a research-based case-study with others.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2021-2022 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

This course will be taught as a seminar in person if the regulations allow it. As a 300 level course, the course is run as a seminar, highly dependent on students participation. This means your critical engagement with the readings and weekly material is essential part of the course and its developments. The sessions are fundamentally organized based on the student’s discussion of the scholarly work assigned for that session and their applicability to daily affairs.

Assessment Method

  • Weekly reflections portfolio: 30%

  • Case study in groups: 30%

  • Final essay: 40%

Reading list

A reading list is designed and available to all students prior the beginning of the course via the syllabus and the course’s Teams.


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Dr. Daniela Vicherat Mattar