Laura Dobson

  • Ph.D., M.A., Political Science, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • B.S., French, Davidson College

Laura Dobson is the director of international education at Lenoir-Rhyne since 2015. In her role, she oversees the operations of the study abroad and foreign exchange programs. In addition, Dobson teaches intercultural communication courses at LR as part of her commitment to providing students with opportunities to engage with other cultures on campus and in the local community.

Dobson's Fulbright Hays-funded doctoral dissertation focused on the impact of participatory development methodologies on democratization at the grassroots in the Middle Belt region of Nigeria. After completing her doctorate, she returned to Nigeria to serve as an assistant professor of African politics, at the American University in Nigeria, before becoming AUN's admissions director. Before coming to LR, Dobson held the positions of associate director in Kansas University's Office of Study Abroad and director of special programs in Florida State University's Center for Global Engagement. In addition, she headed up the University of North Carolina at Pembroke's study abroad program. 

In more than 10 years of study and work in Nigeria and France, she has developed a passion for storytelling to promote cultural learning, curiosity, and tolerance. 

Her interests within the field of international education also include the intersection between multicultural education and intercultural skill-building. She believes that students learn most about themselves when they encounter differences. Further, the cross-cultural skills development inherent in this process can augment one's ability to relate well across cultural differences in the U.S. 

Dobson hosts a civil conversation group whose student and faculty members discuss current socio-cultural issues in the U.S. She has also worked for the last year on a project with the YMCA of Catawba Valley to promote cultural exchange between local Catawba county youth and youth from Kisii and Nairobi, Kenya. She values the quality of learning that occurs when students engage with community members in the Hickory area and has recently begun developing a storytelling and cultural exchange project for LR students and Hickory's Hmong and Kenyan diasporic populations.