Honors College Staff Spotlight: Dr. John Herron

Honors College Staff Spotlight: Dr. John Herron


Honors College Associate Director, Dr. John Herron, joined the Honors College as a Faculty Fellow before accepting his current position as associate director. Continue reading to learn more about Dr. Herron!

  1. What courses do you teach at UMKC?

I am a late 19th and early 20th century American social historian, so I teach a range of history classes from the introductory first-year survey to more specialized graduate seminars. My research focus is in the environmental sciences so several of my favorite undergraduate courses are in environmental history, a field that explores how the physical world impacted American life and culture. I have also been fortunate to teach several interesting film and history courses as well as an Anchor III class, the Artist in Society, where we explore the often controversial mix of art and politics. These courses were team-taught and my long list of co-instructors has included a very tall French horn player, a much shorter stage actor, an interesting scholar of Irish literature, a pragmatic philosopher, and a media studies professor. Back when we were still an Honors Program, I taught several honors-only classes such as the introductory Honors 100 and the capstone experience. And finally, I continue to teach summer study abroad courses.

2. Of the classes you are teaching in the fall, which class are you most excited about?

This sounds terrible I realize, but I am most excited that I will not be teaching any classes next fall. I have a campus administrative role that has reduced my teaching responsibilities. If this was a normal fall semester, however, I always get excited about teaching my 300-level environmental studies class. It is a great mix of history, science, and popular culture.

3. Where did you receive your educational background?

I grew up in the rural West. My family lived in northwestern Montana. For undergraduate, I attended my home state university where I majored in mechanical engineering. About halfway through my studies, I spent a brief period at Rutgers University in New Jersey, only to return home to complete my undergraduate degree not as planned in engineering but in history. After college, I worked a few quintessential western jobs with the Forest Service and the ski industry, before attending graduate school in New Mexico. After completing my PhD, I taught at Tufts University in Boston and the University of San Diego before arriving at UMKC.

4. What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Free time? Like many Honors students, faculty in the Honors College gave up free time long ago. But when I do have free moments, I absolutely love to travel and to spend time with my two terrific kids (a 16-year old daughter and 11-year old son). And although I am not a big sports fan, I do enjoy baseball so watching the Royals (mostly lose) has become a strange form of therapy.

5. What is the best advice you would give to a college student?

My advice will sound clichéd, but will hopefully still ring true: spend time with wise but dangerous minds, dip your toe into cold water, be as academically adventurous as you possibly can. The rewards will be greater than you imagine.