Launched in 2004, WILL+ (formerly the Women in Learning and Leadership program) is an integral part of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program’s commitment to fostering student engagement on campus and in the greater metro-Detroit area.

WILL+ is a program for undergraduate students that integrates Women’s and Gender Studies curriculum with leadership opportunities outside of the classroom.

WILL+ is part of a national set of programs devoted to fostering, developing, and supporting collegiate women’s leadership. It is a co-curricular program founded on three core principles:

  • Required women’s and gender studies-related coursework
  • A student-run leadership development organization
  • Women’s and gender-related programming outside of the classroom

The goals of the WILL+ program are:

  • To encourage critical thinking and intellectual curiosity by providing active learning opportunities that empower students as leaders during and beyond their college years
  • To foster a deeper understanding of women’s diverse roles and contributions to society
  • To increase awareness of obstacles created by gender, racial, and social class stratification and develop individual and collective strategies to address these obstacles
  • To enrich the campus, Metro Detroit, and global community through service and programming.


WILL+ Co-Curricular Activities

For more information, contact Faculty Director: Prof. Lara Rusch.

Past Events

Special Event Recordings

Take Back the Night

Take Back the Night is an annual event hosted by WILL+ that takes place on the UM-Dearborn campus. It is a night to raise awareness for and show solidarity with sexual assault survivors and domestic violence survivors. Traditionally, the event has revolved around survivors voicing their stories and a march around campus in which individuals advocate for putting an end to sexual assault and domestic violence.

With the virtualization of our world due to COVID-19, Take Back the Night was held on Zoom, both in October 2020 and 2021 with a panel of speakers who discussed the stigma surrounding sexual assault and domestic violence as well as ways to support survivors, especially in the era of COVID-19. 

October 27, 2021

Below you'll find a short video prepared by Oakland Co. Prosecutor Karen McDonald in support of this event. And you'll also find the recording of the October 2021 Take Back the Night event.

October 29, 2020

Below you'll find two short videos prepared by Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Senator Debbie Stabenow in support of this event. And you'll also find the recording of the October 2020 Take Back the Night event.

Testimonials from WILL+ members

Join WILL+: Regroup, refocus, rebuild, reconnect, respect – gain more control of your education, relationships, destiny, life!

– sophomore, communications major

WILL+ creates a space for women to articulate their priorities and address them through leadership in the community. 

– junior, biology major

WILL+ students are from all different walks of life.  Rich or poor, black or white, returning or traditional student, you can find a place in WILL.

– senior, psychology major