Faculty Friday with Dr. Kathleen Orange

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 caught up with Dr. Kathleen Orange, an associate professor in Political Science, International Studies and Pre-Law.

She has been with the department since 1981 and was the founding director of the Foley Center for Community Service. She received her Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina. Dr. Orange currently teaches courses in American politics, American political thought, political philosophy and politics and literature.

What class subjects do you teach?

I teach American Politics, Public Policy, Political Philosophy and Politics and Literature. In the senior seminar in public policy students take a public problem of their own choosing, analyze its causes and look at policies that might address the problem. Last semester my students chose environmental issues, issues with the enforcement of laws, mental health treatment in the United States, and the economic effect of the COVID pandemic.

In political science we are always trying to get our students to look more deeply into political issues and think about how to create solutions that work for people. In Politics and Literature we look at a particular topic from an analytic and also a literary point of view, so last year we studied immigration with an excellent textbook, three outstanding novels about immigrants from India, Mexico, Zimbabwe and a non-fiction work tracing the life of a nurse who immigrated from the Philippines. Two years earlier we did something similar with South Asia, with a history of India and Pakistan since Partition in 1947 and four novels set in those two countries.

The stories engage the students – and me – and the non-fiction texts give a context for the stories. They raise important justice issues and allow the students empathy with life experiences very different from their own, often about marginalized people.

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

I became a teacher because I had some great ones, in high school and in college. I have loved the relationship with students from my very first year of teaching at Oregon State. Politics is fundamental to our participation as humans in our common life so in teaching students about it, you are raising questions that are crucial to their ability to participate as full members of society, to their dignity as human beings and to their responsibility as citizens.

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

What I have appreciated most about teaching at Spring Hill is that my faith could be part of my relationship with students. I first taught at Oregon State. I loved the experience; I had great students, but you couldn’t bring faith into that relationship in any explicit way. Also, since SHC is small, there is more room to make an impact. I developed and coordinated our student service and service-learning programs for years here and was involved in many important other projects on campus, like the Jesuit anniversary celebrations of 1990-91. I would not have had so many opportunities at a large university like Oregon State.

What’s your favorite spot on campus?

The Avenue of the Oaks is my favorite place on campus. Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have been riding a bicycle on campus instead of going to the Y. My circuit takes me up the Avenue every day so I see its beauty change with the seasons, in the sun and in the shade. It’s also where I heard many wonderful addresses, by Michael Buckley, S. J. and by Sister Helen Prejean. She encouraged the students to be “mighty oaks for justice.” It’s where we celebrate and say goodbye to our graduates every year.

What is your most prized possession?

My most prized possession is my library card. Mobile has a wonderful public library. I can get there from the Avenue of the Oaks on my bike so I visit at least once a week.

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