Professor Profile: Brian Clark, Anthropology

By Cameron Miguel ‘22

Herald Contributor

Professor Brian Clark is an intelligent visiting professor in the Anthropology department who agreed to this bite-sized biography, enabling the students of this campus to take a peek into his thoughts. The following is a selection from The Herald’s recent conversation with him.

The Herald (TH): What do you think of the campus so far?

Brian Clark (BC): It’s pretty. It’s kind of familiar; the university I did my grad school at was likewise lots of old buildings, lots of big lawns, lots of lovely trees. It’s just much more temperate.

TH: What brought you to HWS when seeking employment?

BC:  I’m used to small liberal arts campuses—at least learning there—some experience teaching there. Frankly, I applied to many places all over the place. It wasn’t that HWS was the only place I applied to but it was certainly attractive in that I’m from Pennsylvania originally so moving back to the northeast was nice and convenient. And I like the northeast, not so much the winter but the rest of the year’s pleasant unlike Texas.

TH: Any thoughts of university life here, such as our cafeteria, students, et cetera?

BC: I haven’t had much experience with the student side of things, but the faculty is certainly very engaged and very much wants people to be engaged in community life. There are events all the time, faculty are emailing me all the time, there is a regular faculty dinner among a bunch of like-minded faculty in different disciplines. … It’s a lot more collegial. I’m used to universities and colleges where certainly faculty get together for academic stuff. But here, it seems, there’s also a large pro-social aspect to it. Just socializing and hanging out, sharing ideas informally. As well as a lot of attempts to not just to share academic ideas but ways for people to improve things. There’s a faculty lunch in every Friday where a faculty member gets to present something. I’m not sure if they’re all like this, but so far a lot of them have focused on ways to make college integrated or approachable to different kinds of students. We talked about making classrooms and class resources more accessible to people with disabilities, continuing education for elderly adults and how to incorporate elderly people more into standard curricula and education. It’s something I’ve not seen much in other places. It seems to be strongly emphasized here.

TH: Where do you enjoy spending time in Geneva?

BC: There’s a nice Thai restaurant. I like reading out on the lawns when the weather’s nice [specifically, 72 degrees]. I really like Watkins Glen.

TH: What got you interested in anthropology?

BC: I’ve always been interested in archeology. I’ve never been much of a cultural anthropologist … I like kicking around in the dirt and I like touching the stuff that is normally behind museum glass and forbidden to be touched.

Following the interview, Clark showed the Herald an Acheulean hand axe, which he says is for “smashing things. It was considered the Swiss army knife of the Paleolithic,” Clark explains. It is safe to conclude that Clark will make a great addition to the HWS community, even if we only have him for two years.

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