In 1996 a group of faculty and students founded a center to consolidate teaching and research on women, gender, and sexuality at the University of Chicago. The Center for Gender Studies, as it was originally named, has from that time concentrated on applying critical thought to the conceptual categories of women, gender, and sexuality. Because these categories cross so many existing academic disciplines, the founders creatively adapted their wide array of disciplinary methods to analyze the world, to examine a priori assumptions, and to discover new knowledge. This interdisciplinary approach led to innovative teaching and research and quickly established the Center, renamed the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality (CSGS), as an important resource for faculty, undergraduates, and graduate students.
Center directors have come from a variety of disciplines: Leora Auslander, History, 1996-1999; Lauren Berlant, English, 1999-2002; Rebecca West, Romance Languages, 2002-2005; George Chauncey, History, 2005-2006; Deborah Nelson, English, 2006-2009; Jane Dailey, History, 2009-2010; Linda Zerilli, Political Science, 2010-2016.
In 2016, the Center celebrated its 20th Anniversary with a series of special events, lectures, and a symposium.