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Beach Connection: Faculty Spotlight

Thomas Douglas

Thomas Douglas

1994, B.A., Liberal Studies, CSULB;
1998, M.A., Social Science, University of
California, Irvine;
2004, Ph.D., Anthropology, University of California, Irvine


Q: Many recent alumni have named you as a professor who has had a great
impact on their education and lives. As an educator, what does this mean to

Well, it is certainly very flattering to be told this, but I am sure that there are a number of other professors at CSULB who have been just as influential in students' lives, if not more so. If my teaching has had an impact, I think it is due more to the material that we cover in anthropology classes than anything that I personally do. Anthropology offers a number of unique perspectives that sometimes touches students in powerful ways. I am privileged to be able to share those perspectives with our students and perhaps provide them some new tools for better understanding of the world and themselves.

Q: You recently received a national distinction by being ranked No. 15 on the
website in a nationwide poll. Can you tell us a little
about that and what that means to you?

That was certainly quite a surprise. When I first received the news via an e-mail about this ranking, I actually thought it was spam. Of course, when I learned it was actually true, I was touched by the kind and generous statements that students had made about my classes on this website.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, how you came to CSULB and a little bit about your work in your field?

I was actually an undergrad at CSULB and then an M.A. student in the Applied
Anthropology Program here before going to UCI for my Ph.D. I was hired to start teaching classes at CSULB while I was finishing up my doctorate, so CSULB has been a kind of home for me in a number of ways for quite a while. In fact, much of my ability as an instructor comes directly from the many excellent professors I had while a student here. My mom is also a CSULB graduate and she became a teacher, so I guess I am sort of following a family tradition.

Q: As a CSULB professor, what are some of your favorite memories thus far at CSULB?

Well, some of the best include any time a student comes into my class at the beginning of the semester, has no idea what anthropology is, and then ends the semester finding that anthropology has given her or him a whole new way to think about the world

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