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BU Professor a Student of the World


Bellarmine’s faculty is just one thing that makes the campus special. Bellarmine students and their professors share a bond that can be uncommon on other campuses.

That is one thing the students love about Bellarmine University: the ability to comfortably approach their professors for assistance, or for general conversation. According to Bellarmine’s official web site, the student/faculty ratio is 12:1, and the average class size is 20 students.

Smaller class sizes allow students to get to know their professors on a more personal level. Students get to experience professors from all different backgrounds and experiences. One of these professors is Dr. Steven Gardiner, an anthropology professor at Bellarmine. Gardiner has a doctorate. from Cornell University and is a cultural anthropologist in addition to being a professor.

Gardiner also teaches classes at Hanover College and the University of Louisville. Although he teaches at three institutions in the area, Gardiner said his heart lies mostly with Bellarmine.

“Bellarmine is one of the great universities in town,” Gardiner said. “Bellarmine is the first place I applied. In fact, I talked to Dr. Hutchins, who is the head of the anthropology program, a few years ago saying, you know, eventually it would be great if I could come here and teach. So, we’ve been talking about it for a few years.”

Gardiner said he loves anthropology because its wide range of uses.

“Anthropology is a field where you can use almost any kind of intellectual tool that you can think of,” Gardiner said. “Anthropologists study and use in their research everything from genetic theory, and looking at the relationship between gene expression and culture, or as we call it biocultural adaptations, to literary theory. You get the full range of what it means to be human within anthropology.”

Anthropology allows those who study it to explore and observe all sorts of subjects. It offers the opportunity to see the world. Gardiner has been offered many opportunities to travel. However, his travels are for more than just leisure.

“My dissertation fieldwork was with the German military, just outside of Berlin. That was my first fieldwork, officially,” Gardiner said. “I have done fieldwork and ethnography in Pakistan, dealing a lot with what’s called civil military relations. Then I did work in the United Arab Emirates. My most recent work is back in the United States.”

In addition, his travels could occasionally be quite dangerous. Gardiner said his time in Pakistan was difficult, but that made it more interesting.

“Pakistan is the least comfortable place that I’ve lived, but in some ways, the most fascinating,” Gardiner said. “If you’ve never lived in a place where you’re the only American who you see all day long, this is a very different kind of experience. I would’ve stayed in Pakistan longer, I was only there for a year, had it not been for certain deteriorating conditions. A couple of bombs went off close to my house. Then, their currency was collapsing.”

Gardiner is still doing research. Gardiner’s studies primary focus around a military theme. He researches masculinity, military cultures, veteran politics, cultural theory and comedy. Because of his research interests, he works a lot with American veterans. Gardiner said: “I continue to work with veterans, I work in town doing work here with a group of veterans. It’s called Shakespeare with veterans, and it’s partnered with Kentucky Shakespeare. I spend a lot of time with them as a group. I do participant observation there.”

Gardiner is exploring topics such as post-service adaptation, veteran masculinity and issues around doing public service through his observations.

Gardiner is constantly doing field work. He is also working on a project that deals with stand-up comedy communities. He works relentlessly on his projects, but appreciates his time as a teacher as well.

Gardiner said his favorite thing about Bellarmine is its students.

“You all (the students) are very, very sincere. Regardless of how many other directions you’re being pulled by all the activities other than school, that are in your life, you seem like you care,” Gardiner said. “Those are qualities that every teacher wants to see in their students. I’ve been doing this long enough to know that my class isn’t the only thing in your lives, that you do have other things that are going on, and I celebrate that.”

Gardiner’s students have taken full advantage of the material covered in class.

Catherine Geary said: “The most important aspects of Dr. Gardiner’s class would be the strange but intriguing material we have learned throughout the semester and his willingness to help his students.”

Students feel comfortable in Gardiner’s class, even though the material is far from typical. Alma Wilcox, who is now an anthropology minor, said: “I was unsure about anthropology as a minor prior to this class and I did not know what to expect exactly at the beginning of the semester. Now that we are almost done with the class I am a lot more confident and excited to keep going.”

Wilcox said she sees the importance of this class and Gardiner’s teaching of the skills necessary to be successful.

“I like how that even though it is an intro level anthropology course, Dr. Gardiner takes the course material seriously but also doesn’t make it too difficult,” Wilcox said. “I think Dr. Gardiner made this course so that we were all able to personally experience anthropology in a real-world sense. He helped us understand all the work and thought that is needed to go into this field but in away that was really clear and simplified.


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