Interdisciplinary Culture Attracts Anthropology Professor to UC Merced
UC Merced prides itself on being a collaborative learning environment for students, and a collaborative working environment for staffers and researchers.
That aura of collaboration - and the thrill of spearheading a brand-new major -- is what drew anthropologyprofessor Linda-Anne Rebhun from New England to the Central Valley. Rebhun's most recent academic post was at Yale University, but she said she couldn't pass up the opportunity to be part of something new and different.
"A public university is a new experience with a different kind of student body," Rebhun said. "UC students are more interested in practical applications of learning."
Rebhun, whose area of expertise is medical anthropology, said she's excited by the neophyte program's already diverse faculty. The anthropology program has professors who specialize in all varieties of the field, such as socio-cultural anthropology and archaeology.
"Anthropology is an excellent background for any fieldthat requires an understanding of culture and society," she said, adding that a degree in anthropology can serve as a strong foundation for professions in public health, marketing and law - just to name a few.
In short, Rebhun said, anthropology is useful for anyone who wants to change behaviors. Rather than just addressing what people do, anthropologists figure out the reason behind actions.
"Even marketing students gain value from having a background in this science," Rebhun said. "Marketing is all about influencing the behavior of humans, and anthropology is really just the study of what makes humans "human.;"
The anthropology program Rebhun and her colleagues are building here differs greatly from other universities. It's focused on
researchthat is relevant to the local community and beyond, and is based on an educational experience that involves other
major coursesof study.
"I've always worked with interdisciplinaryteams," Rebhun said. "That's one of the things I liked about Yale."
"But at UC Merced, I see the opportunity to make a great impact on the world. I look forward to working with undergraduates who will take their foundation in anthropology with them to influence a variety of professional fields."