Unsung Hero: Jonathan Wharton

Maya ObeidSpecial to the Southern News

Jonathan Wharton has been a political science and urban affairs professor at Southern for the last three years. He specializes in state and local government.

After graduating from Howard University in 1996 with a bachelor’s in history, he continued his education at Rutgers University. He finished with his Ph.D. in political science from Howard University in 2008. Wharton, who is a Connecticut native from West Hartford, eventually grew weary of New Jersey after 15 years and found himself back here.

While he has been teaching history and political science over the last 15 years, his expertise does not stop there. In between his studies and teaching at Southern, he has also worked in Congress, state legislation and even did some lobbying for awhile.

Despite it all, his calling led him back to teaching. He seeks to stimulate the minds of young adults so that they become involved in the politics of their town, state and government.

“To be able to see the students engage, discuss and debate, it’s just great,” Wharton said. “Even in my State and Local Government class the other day, they went straight into discussion about Social Contract Theory, the Constitution and the State Constitutions and what it all means and it elicits an entire discussion, which was completely unexpected and terrific: it’s what I live to see.”

Although his love for the classroom and teaching is endless, he sometimes finds himself contemplating what else he would be doing if he was not teaching.

“I think about going back into public policy sometimes,” Wharton said. “I was flirting with the possibility of going back into it about five years ago, maybe do some lobbying again or public research. I want to make an impact, I want to see something resulting from my work.”

Wharton has an extensive knowledge and passion in civil and political work that he wants to use to make a positive impact or to even be able to push other people make an impact as well.

“I really want to find a way to inspire others to do something,” said Wharton, “I want them to be responsive.”
Whether it be in or out of the classroom, Wharton is vibrant with an energy and eagerness that he utilizes to educate and push others to make changes for their communities.

Wharton’s concerns even extend past the civil level and into environmental concerns.
Wharton takes any opportunity he can to go hiking, sailing, kayaking and biking. He is always watching out for the growing amount of waste that is filling our waters; worrying that the situation needs to be remedied before the damage becomes irreversible.

“It’s amazing when I go out to the Long Island Sound to see how dirty and problematic it can be out there,” he said. “I never quite understand why we overlook our tributaries and our water supplies. I wish people would just stop littering and start taking care of our environment because in the end it all is gonna come back to us in so many different ways.”

Professor Wharton finds fulfillment in many areas of life, like his civil work, teaching and love for nature and the outdoors. He is always ready to share his knowledge and passions with the world in hopes of encouraging change for the better.

Photo Courtesy: Maya Obeid – Special to the Southern News


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