Teaching Philosophy

Learning mathematics at Marlboro is learning to spot the reflections of one course in another, Joe Mazur maintains. “One finds that a mathematical form that represents competition in an ecology course is often the same one that represents a chemical reaction or a knight’s move on a chess board.”

Joe liked to tell his students that the notice over Plato’s academy—“Let no one unversed in geometry enter these doors”—was not some whimsical administrator’s plan for a balanced curriculum but an example of the early understanding that mathematics and knowledge are inseparable. It is no accident, he says, that in Aristotle’s time the word mathematics meant “any subject worthy of knowledge.” This revelation often surprised students. But according to Joe’s vision of mathematics, it is no surprise. “Mathematics does not exist only to serve science as a language,” he claims. “The fact is, mathematics was an integral part of life. Today, too, it pervades everything.”

Scholarly Activities

Joe is the author of several books, including Zeno’s Paradox, Euclid in the Rainforest, and What’s Luck Got to Do with it? 

Joe was hired by Marlboro College in 1972.


  • Department Marlboro Institute for Liberal Arts & Interdisciplinary Studies


B.S., Pratt Institute
Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology