Orton Academy and Research was created by Dr. Jane Orton to help people working on a book or research project and to provide online tuition for independent learners, A Level and university students. Jane is the person you will be dealing with in the first instance when you contact us. Read on to find out about Jane’s academic background, her approach to scholarship and what working with her will be like.
I am, first and foremost, an independent scholar – something I’ve heard described as a dying breed but one that I am determined to keep alive! Independent scholars are not ruled by research trends, institutional politics or overly-bureaucratic box-ticking exercises and are very well-positioned to complement, challenge and advance the important work being done by their institutionally-affiliated colleagues.
My academic background spans Politics, Himalayan Studies, Classics, Philosophy, Anthropology and Religious Studies. I have four academic degrees (from Durham, Oxford and Edinburgh Universities) and I’m a huge believer in interdisciplinary research and cooperation with other scholars across various disciplines. I’m also an active researcher myself, presenting my work at conferences all over the world and publishing in academic journals. My anthropological fieldwork takes me to the Indian Himalayas and the Sundarbans of Bangladesh, where I research animal folklore and record music. I also work on wish granting entities and narratives surrounding the world’s most exclusive, forbidden and impenetrable spaces! In my spare time, I ride a Honda 600cc Hornet, although I have been known to rent Indians, Harleys, or other cruiser-style motorcycles while touring America as a musician.
My PhD thesis at the University of Edinburgh (with supervisory period at the University of Bologna) looked at the development of mathematical proofs in Ancient Greece and their impact on the philosophy of Plato – an abstract subject I know, and very far removed from the practical fieldwork I do in the Himalayas and Bangladesh. But I don’t believe that its necessary to choose between the excitement of exploring the real world versus the enlightenment of engaging with big ideas - the approach to learning you’ll find here at Orton Academy and Research embraces both.
“As a doctoral researcher, Jane explored Plato’s mathematics, and academic experts have been quoting her dissertation ever since! She then allowed her artistic streak to enter her mathematical thinking, and … pure creativity flowed. Her domain … everything; her depth … ever increasing; her novelty … emergent and synthetic. What Jane does is problem-solving; her speciality, complexity; her talent, analysis/neosynthesis”
- Professor Theodore Scaltsas (Philosophy/Creative Thinking, University of Edinburgh, Emeritus)
“Dr Orton is an extraordinary researcher. She has an eye for detail, significant analytical abilities, and great insight into the topics she approaches. Her academic histories at the universities of Durham, Oxford, Bologna, and Edinburgh confirm her undeniable intellectual prowess”
- Indigenous Himalayan Religions Research Project
I take what I call a ‘Renaissance approach’ to scholarship, meaning that independent scholarship and interdisciplinary research are key! This does not mean sacrificing excellence in any one field for the sake of ‘doing a bit of everything’ – quite the contrary! I believe that taking an interdisciplinary approach and collaborating with other researchers and institutions across disciplines actually strengthens the quality of my work. I’ve written about the necessity of challenging one’s own academic approach. Interdisciplinary research and collaboration can highlight areas of improvement, as well as suggesting the way forward.
Whereas my own background is in the humanities, I’m a huge believer in collaborating with those from a scientific background, especially in projects that involve human interaction with wildlife. At the same time, I think it’s essential to prioritise the voices of local people, which is why you’ll often hear me talking about the importance of ‘vernacular’ accounts and how they help us to understand communities.
While I do value working with distinguished institutions – click the link for recordings of talks I’ve given at internationally renowned academic bodies - I also believe in the value of independent scholarship. It’s my priority to help other independents produce the very best quality of research - whether they are hemmed into the library working on ancient philosophy or undertaking intrepid fieldwork in the high altitudes of the Himalayas.
Working With Me
Click the links to find out what it is like to work with Jane for A Level tuition, university tuition or adult courses tailored to your particular interests. For help with independent research projects, developing your own academic interests or help writing a book, read on!
One of my favourite things to do is to work with adults who have a ‘passion project’ – whether that’s a series of tutorials to gain knowledge of a topic and develop your own views, supporting you in writing a book or helping you to develop a unique independent research project.
I set up Orton Academy and Research when I noticed that a lot of adults were coming to me via tutoring agencies, having gone through a number of tutors already. This wasn’t because the tutors were no good; rather, the client wasn’t actually looking for a tutor at all – they wanted something more like a research mentor and ‘teammate’ – someone with a strong academic background and research experience who could guide and support them in their own personal endeavours.
Working with me will provide the kind of personal support that your project needs - someone to bounce ideas around with, discuss academic research, plan book chapters or simply give a series of informal tutorials directed towards your interests. I specialise in taking an adaptable, organic approach led by your project and tailored to your needs - no ‘one size fits all’ strategies but real, human interaction. Click the link for more information and case studies of previous projects I've supported.
“I have known Jane for nearly five years. I came in contact with her when she was conducting field work in the Himalayas, recording local folk-tales and songs that related to nature. I was particularly impressed by Jane’s ability to collaborate with international research organizations across different fields and regions, and spend extended periods in remote parts of the Himalayas with limited connectivity.
- Koustubh Sharma (International Coordinator at Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program, Senior Regional Ecologist at the Snow Leopard Trust, Associated Scientist, NCF India)