Faculty Profile: Dr. Kristin Olbertson
Kristin Olbertson started college as an anthropology major, but a distributive requirement led her to take “Chaucer's England,” turning her on to history. And while studying abroad she discovered legal history.
“I'm pretty sure I would never have discovered history, or developed an interest in legal history, if I hadn't been at a liberal arts college that encourages a broad education, studying abroad and pursuing your passions,” she says.
After earning her undergraduate degree from Carleton College, she enrolled both in law school and in a history doctoral program at the University of Michigan. Her research specialty is early American legal history.
“My own research has concentrated on criminal law; I'm interested in what sorts of behaviors are criminalized by different societies at different times, how those behaviors are punished, and what this can tell us about that society's politics, culture and values,” she says.
Olbertson comes from a long line of teachers — her mother, grandmother and aunt all taught - and wanted to teach in an environment where she could interact with individual students. She came to Alma in 2006.
“When I interviewed at Alma, all the faculty I met talked at length about their students, and it was clear they both knew and liked them,” she says.
“When a student makes a major leap, such as becoming a skilled discussion leader or writing a paper that's much better than anything they've previously turned in, those are great days.”
In her spare time, Olbertson enjoys spending time with her husband and three children.