Dr. Henry seeks more discussion

Kate Parsons Proctor

Political diversity may be key

When Dr. Caleb Henry is not teaching, he is at home juggling life with a two-year-old, homeschooling his kids alongside his wife, and is involved with his parish.

“My great passion in life is to try to sleep,” Henry joked.

But, who is he as a teacher, faculty member and student mentor at SPU?

Henry is an associate professor of political science, teaching political theory and American law. He integrates Christianity with politics, an important intersection for many students at SPU, and has been teaching here since 2003.

Henry discovered his love of teaching as an undergrad student. “I always wanted to teach in Christian higher education,” he reflected. “I was interested in how religion and politics interact.”

“I knew politics and some philosophy and econ, but I hadn’t gotten a chance to see how they all come together. They are all great topics and I love the ability to study all three of them,” he noted.

Henry teaches a variety of courses, including American Government and Law and Society.

“It is fun because I get to see students at the beginning of the process and watch them intellectually grow,” Henry said, musing on his favorite part of teaching.

Teaching is not his only role on campus, however.

Once a week, Henry also runs a student book club. This book club is an outlet for SPU students to learn more about American politics whether or not they are political science majors themselves. This quarter they are reading novels centered around Frederick Douglass.

“It is great for students who want to talk about politics, read interesting books, and have debates,” Henry said of the club.

Henry offers a more conservative voice and perspective to SPU’s political science department, which he is never afraid to express.

“I have always preferred to sort of let everyone know my perspective, so that we can have fun debates about it. Most faculty take the position that they will keep their own perspectives hidden and I am just not interested in that. It is much more fun to come with a perspective as long as students feel comfortable to challenge my own views.”

Henry elaborated that part of the reason he makes his view known.

“Seattle is such a progressive city, but we have a very politically mixed student body, and so I think it is easier to be a conservative professor with regards to students here, because you are guaranteed a diversity of opinions.”

As a professor of political science, Henry is well versed on the nature of politics in America and does not hesitate to dole out his thoughts on what role students can play in this process.

Henry gave his advice to students about how to navigate the current political climate in America. He stressed the importance of engaging in political debate, particularly with the upcoming election on Nov. 6.

“Our news is radically polarized, and we are only getting our news from people who already agree with us. I think that is one of the biggest dangers for young people,” Henry said. “What I recommend is going on your Facebook or Twitter feed and try and find the smartest people across the political spectrum so that you will get exposed to different ideas.”

“You should be frustrated by someone in your feed. If you are not, then you don’t understand what half of America thinks,” he continued.

One way Henry suggests students overcome party polarization is by reaching out across the aisle and have a reasonable conversation with students who identify with a different political party to their own.

“Learn to talk face to face with those who disagree with you because we are not learning respectful communication at the national level and I think it is probably a failure to assume that will happen anytime soon,” Henry warned.

Students should look at their own environment and share their opinions within their daily life.

According to Henry, “we have to do it here in our community and it seems to me SPU student body is a great place to interact with people who disagree with you.

There is a great political diversity of opinion. This is the chance to do it.”
In his parting advice for students, Henry stated, “Get politically active. I love to see students talking about politics. People have opinions but they don’t tend to share them. If they were to do one thing this election season, I would love students to find somebody and talk face to face about something political.”

Henry’s list of publications can be found on the SPU website, under his faculty profile. His office is located in Mckenna Hall 216.