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~New Wellesley Conference Explores the World of Experiential Learning:Students and Alumnae Link Off-Campus Experiences with the Classroom~

For immediate release:
October 11, 2001


Arlie Corday, Public Information
Phone: 781-283-3321

WELLESLEY, Mass. - Life on Mars, ecology in Russia, women’s rights in Morocco, poverty in our cities: What do such diverse topics have in common? The answer is Wellesley College’s multifaceted Tanner Conference, to be held for the first time Wednesday, Oct. 24.

The day-long conference celebrates the relationship between the liberal-arts classroom and student participation in an increasingly diverse and interdependent world through internships, study abroad and other off-campus experiences. The Tanner Conference has been established through the generosity of Wellesley trustee emerita Estelle "Nicki" Newman Tanner, a member of the class of 1957.

"The conference is premised on the belief that a greater understanding of the learning that takes place off campus-combined with critical inquiry into the purpose, value and effect of such learning-serves to enrich the liberal educational experience," said Lee Cuba, dean of the college and co-chair of the Tanner Conference Committee.

Representing the work of more than 300 Wellesley students, alumnae, faculty and staff, the conference is organized around seven themes: Community and Society; Science and Technology; Gender and Social Relations; Politics and Economics; Decisions of Consequence; Wellesley in the World; and Conversations about New Directions. For example, under Decisions of Consequence, Meredith Sorenson, Wellesley class of 2001, will present "Tale of the Trail: A Wellesley Graduate Hikes the Appalachian Trail."

"This summer I hiked the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia," Sorenson explained. "This 2,167-mile endeavor took several months. My classmates moved to cities, traveled on fellowships, went to graduate school, found jobs and collectively took their first steps into the ‘real world.’ I am taking a different path-one through the woods with my food and shelter on my back."

Sorenson will talk about the challenges, from a family of bears to a pancake-eating contest, she faced on her journey. "I will share my experience through my slides and journals," she said. "I’ll tell my tale of the trail: an alternative path after college."

Many presentations will explore the world beyond our shores. Under the theme "Gender Issues in International Perspective," senior Erin Humphrey will discuss her research project, "Communities of Elderly Women in Japan: The Changing Nature of Emotional and Spiritual Needs in an Aging Society."

"The goal of my research this summer in Kyoto, Japan, was to investigate how Japanese women perceive and deal with change-emotionally, psychologically and spiritually-as they move from a traditional caregiver role into a care-receiver role in the last stages of life," Humphrey said. "Japan faces a rapidly aging population: an estimated 33 percent will be over 65 by 2050. I plan to share some of my impressions of the lives of 11 elderly women whom I interviewed, and the changes taking place in their families, neighborhoods and communities."

The Tanner Conference concludes with an exhibition featuring information on internships, service learning opportunities, international study programs and the opportunities available during Wellesley’s January Wintersession. For more information, including a schedule and more samples of the presentations, go to the web site at

Founded in 1875, Wellesley College has been a leader in liberal arts and the education of women for 125 years. The College's 500-acre campus near Boston is home to 2,300 undergraduate students.


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  • Date Modified: October 11, 2001
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