Teacher studies hunger in Africa

photo contributed

“Do whatever turns you on. That is, intellectually,” said Dr. Douglas Hume.

“I took cultural anthropology as a general education requirement and thought it was such a great class. I thought, ‘people actually do this’ and decided to go for it.”

Hume, a new full-time professor in the anthropology department, teaches six major courses and researches on the side, most recently in Madagascar.

He’s found that the slash and burn agricultural technique they use has made the land unable to produce healthy crops. His research centers on how to solve that problem without affecting the cultural religions, rituals and identities.

While in Madagascar, Hume visited with the mpanandro, meaning healer, who works hand-in-hand with the doctor. “If you’re out farming or something and you cut yourself, you’ll go to the hospital right away,” Hume said. “Then you go to the mpanandro and he asks you what happened, and then he throws some seeds on his table and interprets the position of them to find out why that happened.”

Although Hume is new NKU, he’s not new to teaching. “He’s been to every state with the ‘ka’ sound: Connecticut, California, Kentucky,” said Sharlotte Neely, coordinator of the anthropology department, “What’s left? Kansas? We won’t let him slip away.”