Faculty Focus Friday is a Q&A series that highlights individual faculty members in various academic programs around Spalding University. Today’s featured faculty member is Dr. Chris Kolb, Associate Professor of Anthropology in the School of Liberal Studies. (Read his bio on the liberal studies faculty page.) He holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of Kentucky, a master’s from George Washington University and a doctorate from Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Kolb is also a member of the Jefferson County Public Schools Board of Education.
What do you like about working and teaching at Spalding?
I like the students and the small class size because it allows me to build relationships with students. We have a diverse campus and student body, which challenges professors to communicate with many different types of people. I really enjoy it.
What is your academic specialty or area of expertise or research?
I am a cultural anthropologist, and we do everything under the sun, but my specialty is urban anthropology focusing on drug use, race, policing, homelessness and how cities function. I did my field research from 2005-07 in Cincinnati not long after the riots there. Unfortunately, for society these issues are prevalent and people hear about them more easily now, which makes it an interesting time to be studying these issues.
Why is liberal studies a good option for students to consider as their major?
There are many different reasons. I will start with the money-making aspect, which is that employers are realizing no matter what their business is, they need people who can communicate well and write well. Beyond that, it’s a great foundation for many paths such as, advocacy, the nonprofit sector, graduate studies, business and law.
What is an interesting thing that you keep in your office?
There is a drawing with colored pencils from a guy in Cincinnati who was well-known and struggled with homelessness and mental illness. He was a gifted artist, and he sold me this for $5-10, and if you look at it, I think it’s actually George Washington. I think it’s a brilliant piece of art work done on a piece of cardboard.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I think getting to do something that really interests you. Of course there are aspects that aren’t as entertaining as others such as paperwork and administrative pieces, but there are rewarding factors. I have a lot of independence and get to experiment within the classroom. I really enjoy finding ways to reach students and get them to take an interest and ownership in the material.
At Spalding, we like to say, “Today is a great day to change the world.” How do you think your role at Spalding is helping you change the world or the world of your students?
I think the topics we discuss in class open my students’ eyes to ideas they have probably heard about but didn’t know a lot about. We go into much further detail about prominent Civil Rights figures such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King and how our superficial view of these individuals is actually much more complicated than we think. I hope I am helping my students become more curious about the world and not rely on the news media to create the world for them.