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Dr. Beth Roselyn
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Anthropology


Dr. Beth Roselyn
Adjunct Anthropology Instructor, Hufflepuff

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B.A. Anthropology/Economic (University of Kansas); PhD Biological Anthropology (University of California, San Diego)
With Cabrillo College since 2013

“The purpose of anthropology is to make the world safe for human differences.”—Ruth Benedict

Greetings, Excellent Humans!

Today I am a person with a PhD in biological anthropology who teaches anthropology to college students online and in person at three different schools in three different states but it was not always clear this is where I would end up.

I took a rather scenic route through my undergraduate career, which included flunking out, majoring in everything for at least a couple of weeks, attending 3 different schools, and, finally, graduating with a B.A. in anthropology and economics from the University of Kansas in lovely Lawrence, KS (oasis on the plains). When I first started college, I had pretty much no idea what I wanted to study or what I wanted to be when I grew up, although I started as a math major. I flunked out my first semester and spent the next several years working as a deli and cashier manager in a variety of natural foods stores, taking a class here and there, and moving back and forth between Kansas City, MO (my awesome hometown) and Boulder and Denver, CO. During those years, I spent a lot of time reading and that is when I really discovered Jane Goodall's work. I was already a little familiar with her because I have always loved animals but it was when I read her books, In the Shadow of Man and Through a Window, that I realized I wanted to be a primatologist, meaning I would major in anthropology.

Those two books, while they present solid science, are extremely accessible and paint such a complex, interesting picture of the chimpanzees at Gombe, especially their personalities and relationships, that they read like novels (or maybe a soap opera--chimps are super dramatic). Goodall also showed how learning about chimpanzees, one of our two closest living relatives, is super important for learning about what it means to be human.

I planned to enroll at the University of Kansas shortly after I decided on this path but they told me my GPA was too low to go there (maybe a 1.9?). So, I enrolled at a local community college where I took several of the best classes I have ever had (I really enjoyed Western Civilization!) and even discovered my (unexpected) love of economics. That was also where I learned about bonobos (our other closest living relative) for the first time in my Biological Anthropology class. We watched the film, The New Chimpanzees, in that class and the first time I saw a female bonobo stand upright and drag a branch behind her in a dominance display (something that only male chimpanzees do!), I knew I wanted to understand these amazing apes better. I brought my GPA up over a year or two, then transferred to KU to finish up before heading to UC San Diego for graduate school, where I went on to do my dissertation research with the bonobos at the World Famous San Diego Zoo.

I love teaching anthropology and exploring what it means to be human. I consider myself extremely lucky to have the opportunity to share my love of anthropology with students.

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