Peter Hobbs gives a lecture at a podium.
Visiting educator Peter Hobbs gives a lecture at Whitman in April 2018. (Photo by Leo Corrales '21)

Written by

Each semester, students at Whitman College get the chance to be exposed to ideas from around the globe, thanks to the O'Donnell Visiting Educator program. Managed by the Center for Global Studies, the O'Donnell program funds visitors from around the world, who bring their expertise and perspective to Walla Walla.

This semester, students were able to learn from visiting educators who share their culture through dance and art.

O'Donnell Visiting Educator Hadar Ahuvia was brought to Whitman by Assistant Professor Renee Archibald in the Department of Theatre and Dance. As part of her visit, Ahuvia performed a series of Israeli folk dances in February titled "The Dances are For Us." Over the course of her monthlong visit, Ahuvia interacted with Whitman students, faculty and community members through workshops, dance lessons and panel discussions.

"Part the center's objective is to create opportunities for our students and our faculty to engage with practitioners of global studies in the variety of ways," said Assistant Professor Leena Knight, director of the Center for Global Studies. "Many of them might engage with them from an artistic or historical perspective, which is what Hadar is bringing to our campus."

To request funds to sponsor an O'Donnell Visiting Educator, faculty members write a proposal sharing how the visitor's expertise will enhance global learning at Whitman.

"Part of my desire to have her as an O'Donnell educator was that her work spreads out into other areas of the liberal arts.," Archibald said. "Dance doesn't happen in a vacuum, and any dance can be an object of study from many different perspectives."

Ahuvia studies social dances and presents her observations in a theatrical form in which she conveys the political meaning of dance, such as expressions of control and vulnerability.

Along with its cross-disciplinary nature, another hallmark of the O'Donnell program is its emphasis on crossing local and global boundaries. In April, Associate Professor Lisa Uddin of the Department of Art History and Visual Culture Studies sponsored O'Donnell Visiting Educator Peter Hobbs. Hobbs is on the art faculty at OCAD University in Toronto, Canada.

"Peter is someone I have known for many years," Uddin said. "He is a practicing artist and also an environmental scholar, which is a very unique combination, and one that I think serves Whitman right now very well."

For fall 2019, Whitman College will begin offering a new interdisciplinary major in environmental studies - art. Hobbs' expertise in both fields is advantageous. He also brings a global perspective because he's a Canadian scholar who studies toxicity in First Nation communities in northern Ontario, Canada, and Eastern Washington.

Like Ahuvia, during his time at Whitman, Hobbs attended classes, gave public lectures and conducted residential research in Walla Walla. His lectures included topics such as toxicity politics and chemical intimacies. He also connected with local artists and scientists to explore Eastern Washington's environmental landscape.