David Hoffman
Alumni: Cultural Anthropology

Dr. David M. Hoffman is currently an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures at Mississippi State University. He has been at Mississippi State since the fall of 2008. David’s research broadly focuses on the intersection of international biodiversity conservation and human livelihoods. David’s research, conducted in Mexico and Central America (Costa Rica in particular), began with his interest in improving the relationships between parks and people with a particular emphasis on ensuring just outcomes for the human communities affected by parks and protected areas. His dissertation research while a student at CU was focused on the barriers to the development of shared management (co-management) of a marine protected area in Quintana Roo, Mexico. His current research, sponsored by the National Science Foundation’s Cultural Anthropology program, focuses on the movement and motivation of internal migrants to the buffer zones of three national parks in Costa Rica. David is employing cultural consensus analysis, a methodology frequently applied in ethnoecological research, in an attempt to model what motivates Costa Rican migrants to move to park edges. It is a three-year project that also includes two graduate students as well as collaboration with demographers and GIS experts at the University of Costa Rica.

Upon finishing his PhD at CU-Boulder in 2006, David was fortunate to land an assistant professor position at the United Nations Mandated University for Peace (UPEACE) in San José, Costa Rica. While at UPEACE from 2006-2008, David taught courses for the Dual MA program in Natural Resources and Sustainable Development that UPEACE shares with American University in Washington, D.C. At Mississippi State, David teaches in a traditional three field undergraduate program and an Applied MA program. In April 2013 he was awarded the 2013 Arts & Sciences Faculty Teaching Award in Social & Behavioral Sciences.

David feels incredibly fortunate that he has been able to parlay his graduate studies into a tenure-track position. Not only that, but he continues to see and do amazing things, meet amazing people, and enjoy the ups and downs of his anthropological endeavors!! David is still amazed that he gets to work in places of such amazing natural beauty. He is also fortunate to have the honor and privilege of opening minds of both students and professionals in Mississippi and Costa Rica. Ultimately, he is still incredibly excited about putting the skills that his anthropological training instilled in him toward creating a more just and effective conservation.

About His Experience in the Anthropology Department

“My MA and PhD training at CU were instrumental in my career advances over the last few years. The program gave me an excellent theoretical foundation that has helped me not only navigate the varied terrain of the anthropological landscape, but also gave me a solid footing from which to apply research. In other words, my mentors at CU really facilitated my ability to conduct work that contributes to both theory and real world issues. Too often programs sacrifice one of these elements over the other, and I think the faculty at CU Boulder’s Anthropology department did an excellent job of showing us the middle path. My successes in interdisciplinary teaching at UPEACE, obtaining research funding here at Mississippi State, and mentoring students at both institutions are a direct result of the training I received at CU.”