Faculty Friday with Dr. Harold Dorton

Welcome to Faculty Friday, where we spotlight faculty around Spring Hill College to learn a little more about them, their work, and their story. This week, we catch up with Harold Dorton, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology in the Department of Sociology and Criminology.

What class subjects do you teach?

My background is in micro-sociology and sociological theory, but most of my work has been related to gender, culture, and deviance. Having said that, I teach a little bit of everything in the sociology curriculum, from the introductory class to senior seminars.

What would you say attracted you to the field of teaching?

I had a mentor who was an amazing teacher. Many long talks with him showed me how teaching could create positive change in the world. These conversations early in graduate school still shape the way I think about teaching. 

I think that it is most important that people learn how to engage with ideas in a way that they learn to apply them and use them to respond to relevant social issues and social problems. This is as important as any specific content people can learn. I am probably most proud that many of my students have used what they have learned to make the world a little more humane and just locally and globally. You don’t always know when the connections that lead to change are sparked. This keeps me motivated and helps me hope for the future of my own children. 

What appealed to you about teaching specifically at Spring Hill College?

When I came here there was no sociology program. I had a very rare chance to put my own stamp on a program that could have a distinct identity in a liberal arts tradition. The students have responded far better than I could have hoped, and the successes of our program certainly belong to them.

What’s your favorite spot on campus?

Probably the courtyard outside of the library. It has a good view of many parts of campus, and you can do a lot of people watching. It has good energy when people are hanging out, studying, having coffee (thanks, Einstein Bros!), or just catching a moment in the sun or shade there.  

What special projects are you involved with right now?

I am involved with Project Thrive, a nonprofit organization that works toward reducing the impact of trauma in the local community, which has recently focused on reducing youth violence. I came to this work through a relationship with the Office of Special Projects with the Mobile Police Department, and I’m really grateful that I’ve gotten to do some work with that office that truly makes MPD unique among municipal police forces in the south. I have also worked on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) training with United Way of Southwest Alabama and some of their partner agencies.

What is your most prized possession and why?

If I had to pick one material thing, the obvious answer is my house, because it’s where my family has made a lot of memories. If my wife were answering for me she would probably say it is my Jeep or my book collection. If my kids were answering for me they would almost certainly say my most prized possession is my phone, because it has all of my pictures of them in it.

ABOUT SPRING HILL COLLEGE:

Founded in 1830, Spring Hill College is the oldest Catholic college in the Southeast and the third oldest Jesuit college in the United States. Spring Hill combines the Jesuit tradition of excellence in education and a commitment to caring for the whole person – mind, body, and spirit – with innovative educational experiences. Located in Mobile, Ala., Spring Hill’s mission is to form leaders engaged in learning, faith, justice and service for life. As a result, Spring Hill students are engaged, inspired and transformed by their experiences. 

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