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Student story

Bret Hampton

20 July 2023

"I've always had an interest in traditional cultures..."


Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology with a minor in History

Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Anthropology

The opportunity to study Anthropology at UC was too good to miss for Bret, who had moved from Alberta, Canada to Christchurch with his partner. 

"I’ve always had an interest in traditional cultures… the way they use resources, particularly plants and animals; the various belief systems that are out there; the way they live their lives in general, and how that can differ completely from our own way – that’s what I enjoy about Anthropology."

Bret decided to study Anthropology to degree level after taking a course in Ethnobotany, focusing on the relationship between people and plants. 

"UC has a good Cultural Anthropology programme and, from the looks of it, is going some way to creating an Environmental Anthropology programme which I think might be the first in New Zealand."

Bret praises the teaching he has experienced at UC, saying that his lectures are stimulating and varied. 

"The professors at UC are really good. They’ve done lots of field work so they usually have some interesting stories and photos from this."

He adds that Anthropology is a great subject for students to develop their own thinking. 

"Always have an open mind. There are some amazing cultures out there, and they all come from a different viewpoint."

When he wasn’t busy with his studies, Bret naturally liked to spend time outside, exploring his interest in people and plants on a more personal level.

"I enjoyed working in my garden, or as I like to call it, small-scale farming. We crafted a few batches of apple cider and now have our eyes set on trying some brewing out – but we are looking at it from a more traditional and experimental view," he says. "We also went tramping, rock climbing, skiing in the winter, and kayaking when we could.’"

Since finishing his studies, Bret and his partner have moved back to Canada and maintain a small property on the east coast in their dream to become sustainable and self-sufficient.

"Anthropology helped hone critical thinking and research skills, which are essential skills in these challenging days," he says. "Another skill taught through Anthropology is seeing others’ experience and relating with that experience, which helped as I worked with a group of nurses with a grievance. 

"Possibly the most useful for me has been the ability to see social norms as constructs which are not fixed, which gives me great joy as a stay-at-home dad, teaching my two daughters whatever they want to learn."

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