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Laura Bathurst

Assistant Professor of Anthropology


Phone: 209.946.3181

Office Hours

George Wilson Hall, Room 102


PhD, University of California, Berkeley, 2005

MA, University of California, Berkeley, 1999

BA, Kansas State University, 1997

Curriculum Vitae 

Teaching Philosophy:

My aim is to foster in my students a habit of curiosity coupled with rigorous analytical thinking and a driving thirst for wide-ranging knowledge, and then to arm them with multiple frameworks that help them understand our increasingly complex and interconnected world. It's important to me that students understand the relevance of course material to their everyday lives, and I try to reach every student in each of my classes. Integrated into my course design is attention to learning as an incremental process, learning styles, and cognitive styles to better "meet the students where they are," an essential characteristic of superior teaching. I regularly seek student feedback through formal and informal channels to make sure I understand the students' experiences of my classes. I incorporate emerging technologies, as appropriate, to enhance learning, and encourage students to understand what kinds of learning are facilitated and what kinds are inhibited by different approaches, as I support them in becoming "life-long learners." At Pacific, I teach several distinct kinds of courses, anthropology courses (currently Cultural Anthropology and Language and Culture), intercultural courses (Cross Cultural Training I, Cross Cultural Training II), and interdisciplinary courses (currently Contemporary World Issues).

Scholarly Interest:

I have conducted research in Bolivia, Spain, and the US. My research is centered around two topics: 1) the social construction of identity and 2) the pedagogy of cultural difference. In Bolivia, I examined how the identities of indigenous Tacana living in the Amazon basin of Bolivia were affected by international development aid that was designated to be specifically for indigenous people, documenting key shifts in the definitions of Tacananess related to the global movement of money, ideas, people, and things. I also analyzed the importance of gift-giving among the Tacana, exploring the ways in which key aspects of the material, social, and moral domains of Tacana life were mutually reinforcing and the fundamental role their system of gift-giving played in the reproduction of normative behaviors and values among themselves and in structuring their encounters with outsiders. My current research is centered on understanding the historical development and contemporary practice of differing approaches to teaching about cultural difference. I am particularly interested in the different goals, assumptions, techniques, and outcomes of pedagogies typical of anthropology and intercultural communication, with special attention to those working with students who study abroad.


ANTH 053. Cultural Anthropology. 4 Units.  This introductory course covers the anthropological view of humanity, the character and nature of culture, and the diversity of the human species. The major concepts, methods, and theoretical assumptions of the discipline are illustrated by applying anthropological perspectives to peoples from around the world. Topics include culture, ethnicity, and language; kinship, marriage, and social organization; time and space; religion, magic and rituals; gender and sexuality; power, inequality, and political relations; economic production, circulation, and consumption; social control; and the various forces and forms of change.

ANTH 153. Language and Culture. 4 Units.  In this seminar, the interconnections between language and culture are explored from an anthropological perspective that include approaches to the study of language within anthropology, methods of linguistic anthropological research, linguistic relativity, conversational styles, and links between language and power.

ANTH 172. Culture and Power. 4 Units.  What is power? How are power relations configured differently across cultures? How is power institutionalized and contested in an increasingly interconnected world? The theme that unites all these concerns is the politics of everyday life: how power works in and through culture to shape the lives of individuals and societies. Topics of discussion include: conflict and conflict resolution,; law and custom, leadership and authority, social and cultural control, ritual and symbolism, gender, ethnicity, and identity politics, nationalism and colonialism, representation, agency and political subjectivity, civil society organizations and social movements, borders, boundaries and citizenship.

ANTH 193. Special Topics, Upper Division. 1-4 Units.  Occasional offerings on topics in anthropology of current interest to faculty and students.

INTL 071. Cross Cultural for International Students. 1 Unit. Cross Cultural for International Students engages the theory and practice of living and studying in cultures other than your home culture. It delivers culture general frameworks for understanding cultural similarities and differences, and focuses specifically on the skills and knowledge necessary to integrate successfully into the United States and the American university context. 

INTL 077. Contemporary World Issues. 4 Units. Students are introduced to the most important current global issues through a look at their contemporaneous history over the last century. Students also examine the political, economic, and cultural changes around the world that have led to today's problems and opportunities.

INTL 151. Cross-Cultural Training I. 2 Units. This course prepares students for interacting in cultures other than their own. It is designed to assist students in developing learning and coping strategies when outside their native cultural environment, such as while studying abroad, as well as the communication and intercultural skills needed for interacting successfully in new cultural environments. Topics include cultural values and assumptions, intercultural communication, and cross cultural problems and adjustment.

INTL 161. Cross-Cultural Training II. 2 Units.  This course analyzes and evaluates the effects and consequences of cross-cultural exposure. Topics include entry and return culture shock, communication styles and channels, alterations in value structure, and models that characterize personal and cultural change.

INTL 165. Development, Modernization, and Cultural Change. 4 Units.  The purpose of this course is to examine what we know about defining and measuring sustainable human development in the areas of: economic development, political development (governance, democracy and civil society), human development (health, population, nutrition and gender issues), health, education, environmentally-sustainable development, and the areas of disasters and failed states. This course is interdisciplinary and problem-oriented. It uses databases that are made available, and students undertake country and context specific analyses and case studies. The successful completion of this course equips students with an interdisciplinary and holistic understanding of sustainable human development. Finally the emphasis placed on comparative analysis to help the student gain a deeper understanding of a country in a broader regional and international context.

INTL 185. SIS Capstone. 2 Units.  This capstone course integrates the interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary SIS core curriculum with the experiential learning of study abroad. This is accomplished through analysis of the role of the individual in a variety of cultural and historical contexts that pay particular attention to questions of identity and ethics in a complex global environment.