Olga R. Beaver (1991-1994)

Professor Beaver, of the Mathematics Department, became the first scholar to focus on the implications of Robert Gaudino’s educational theories for the teaching of the sciences. Immersing herself in the Gaudino materials (especially in Herzog’s “Suitable Uses of the Gaudino Fund”) she decided that an authentically “Gaudinoesque” approach would consider personal and individual experience as the most important element, whatever the field of study. In particular, Professor Beaver was inspired by Professor Gaudino’s Williams in Appalachia program and its immersion of students in the “unfamiliar and uncomfortable.”

Building on considerable prior experience with Williams minority students, she focused on bringing experiential learning during summer and Winter Study projects primarily to students of color, or to those students whose proposals involved study of the third world. The projects were wide-ranging and included a philosophy major’s trip to study a tropical rain forest in Mexico; a group study of the sociology of the homeless in New York City, and a trip by seven students to a small rural Mississippi town to live there while gathering oral histories of descendants of slaves as well as of Freedom marchers.