You Are a Political Animal
Whether you regularly think about it or not, you are a political being. You may never have volunteered for a presidential campaign or donated to a candidate for office. You may have never even voted. But by virtue of living in an ordered society with others, you are, in the words of Aristotle, a political animal.
This simple fact has special relevance for Christians. Followers of Christ are called to be in the world, to “go and make disciples of all nations.” Moreover, Jesus has much to say about politics—not in the sense of voting for certain candidates or supporting certain policies, but in the sense of how we are to relate with others in a fallen world. Untangling the relationship between faith and politics is therefore essential for Christians.
As a field of study at John Brown University, political science looks to make sense of this relationship and equip students for the futures to which they are being called. Those majoring in political science learn to write well, communicate effectively, see different perspectives, and think critically. These are traits rooted deeply in the liberal arts, which have formed the foundation of higher education for centuries. These are also traits in high demand in a fluid and evolving economy, traits that cannot be replaced by innovation or automation. Society will always need thoughtful, reasoning people who can make sense of the world around them. Political science majors develop and enhance skills essential for intellectual growth, personal formation, and professional success.
Students of political science are challenged in every class to see multiple points of view and to critically examine what they believe and why they believe it—after all, all truth is God’s truth. Writing, analysis, and argument form the foundation of political science courses at John Brown University. However, these things are incomplete without a robust understanding of how God is moving in our world and how we are being fashioned to serve His Kingdom. Coursework in political science focuses on essential questions about human nature, institutional arrangements, and how people should order themselves in a world corrupted by sin. Political science students are routinely challenged to think about vocation, and how the training they receive at JBU can prepare them for their lives as citizens of two kingdoms.
Our graduates have gone onto careers in law such as working in a state’s attorney general’s office and being awarded a prestigious clerkship for a federal judge. They have gone into careers in public policy, serving at faith-based interest groups influencing those in Congress, the White House, and the Supreme Court. And they have gone into careers in the private sector, working in marketing, data analysis, program management, and more. Majoring in political science does not mean you are only prepared to work in politics—indeed, the skills our majors cultivate prepare them for a variety of careers, inside and outside government.
In addition to offering a major and minor in political science, the Department of Political Science also facilitates several minors designed to train students across disciplines to reach their potential as stewards of the Kingdom. Those called to the legal profession could minor in pre-law. Students motivated by global concerns could minor in international relations. Those passionate about serving marginalized communities could minor in social justice. And regardless of major, students can study in Washington, D.C., through the American Studies Program, participate with JBU’s Model United Nations, and be involved with the university’s new Center for Faith and Flourishing.
As the daily headlines make clear, politics can be chaotic. It can be hard to cut through the noise. Studying political science arms people with the tools needed to make sense of the world around them. And for Christians, studying political science sharpens the skills necessary to serve the needs of our neighbors with love and seek justice for our society, all while walking humbly in our identity in Christ. If you feel called to do these things, majoring in political science at John Brown University may be a good step in that direction.
Dr. Daniel Bennett is in his fourth year at John Brown University, where he serves as an associate professor of political science and the Assistant Director of the Center for Faith and Flourishing. He and his family attend Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Siloam Springs. They are currently raising chickens, which has given him new appreciation for his work on campus.