Laura Gorbea, Ph.D., Applied Anthropologist

Laura Gorbea is an applied anthropologist and technology entrepreneur with nearly 20 years experience designing and implementing stategic projects for the businesses and non-profit organizations in Puerto Rico. Gorbea’s life experiences, as entrepreneur and anthropologist, give her work in public and business anthropology a unique perspective and voice that makes social and economic analysis accessible to different audiences.

She co-founded several technology ventures and advocated for open source technologies in government. From 2000-2008 she served on several private sector boards and government-sponsored policy development efforts, providing a voice to local tech-startups, small businesses and women entrepreneurs. As of 2015, Gorbea was asked to serve as technology consultant in “Tu Salud Financiera”, a local economic analysis TV program, where she addresses the relationship between technology, innovation and society in a weekly segment called "TecnoSalud."

Beyond technology and economic development, Gorbea has worked extensively with education policy. She has served as advisor and external consultant to the Puerto Rico Department of Education in language education policy, technology integration, and developed research plans for studying the impact of children’s exposure to violence. Currently, she is working on an ethnography of teaching, a research project for which she has built a diverse network of support that includes the Puerto Rico Teachers Association.

Her business anthropology practice has provided ethnographies, corporate social responsibility plans, and community engagement programs for companies and non-profit organizations. Projects have helped local companies understand the impact of changing economic landscape on communities and individuals, informing product and market development plans.  In 2016, Gorbea presented a paper on the local evolution of the corporate-social compact in Puerto Rico and how it related to globalized concepts and practice of corporate social responsibility and sustainable development during the Society for Applied Anthropology annual meeting.

Gorbea earned her Masters and Doctoral degrees in Anthropology from Stanford University. Her graduate research addressed bilingual education policy and nationalism in the Basque Country of Spain. Gorbea holds two Bachelor degrees from Washington University in St. Louis. In the School of Arts and Sciences she majored in Anthropology and minored in German, while concurrently majoring in Sculpture in the Bixby School of Fine Arts.