Lexi Schnaser—Staff Writer
America’s political system is broken, and there’s no question about it.
Politics are broken, ugly, and messy. However, they affect every aspect of our lives, and our involvement in the public square remains essential to our Christian witness. So, what is Dordt doing to educate and prepare us for the political sphere?
In my opinion, not much.
I am a sophomore in the Dordt political science program. I am one of two political science majors in my class, one of ten students in the entire program, and one of two women in the program. (Soon to be the only woman, come December.)
Our political science program lacks the resources and opportunities for political science students, and other students interested in politics, to truly become immersed and challenged in their studies.
We have one professor, Dr. Jeff Taylor, who teaches every political science class. Taylor will soon serve as member of the Iowa State Senate, whose legislature begins session during the spring semester. While this is exciting for him and the program, it also opens up a new slew of problems.
Originally, three political science classes were slated for the upcoming semester. One of the classes, Introduction to Politics, counts as a CORE justice and stewardship requirement and is still offered. However, the other two classes, Comparative Politics and Global Security Issues (classes that sound pretty important), have been cancelled for next semester because Taylor cannot take on the workload of three classes while in legislature.
Couldn’t we hire an adjunct professor? Couldn’t we have given the political science students more of a heads up about the cancellations, rather than only a week before registration?
I understand that the major is small, but that does not mean that it is any less important than any of the other majors offered at Dordt. I may be biased, but I think political science deserves to have more resources than it does and should be an area of focus and emphasis in the curriculum at Dordt.
I appreciate Taylor’s perspective, but I believe we need more variety in the program. Taylor does an okay job of presenting different sides of issues, but we need to learn from and engage with different perspectives. Dordt’s educational framework aims to give us a holistic education. My question is: How can we see these issues holistically if we only hear from one teacher?
Politics affect every part of our lives and bear a heavy influence on our Christian witness, and I believe that a university which prides itself on student engagement and culture-making needs to focus more energy on educating students in politics.
I love my nursing friends, my digital media friends, and my engineering friends, but I am increasingly concerned that they could go their entire educational career at Dordt without once taking a political science class.
If Dordt is preparing us for the real world, and claims we are a part of the real world now, then why are they not preparing us as educated Christian citizens in the public square?
I know many students who are interested in politics or admit they want to learn more about politics but choose not to take any political science courses while at Dordt. And like Taylor says, you are here, and the opportunity is available to you, why not take it?
There are two political science classes students can take to satisfy the CORE Justice and Stewardship requirement – American National Politics and Introduction to Politics. I encourage students who have not yet completed this requirement to sign up for these classes. And a perk of the political science program is that there are no prerequisites for any of our classes. So, take a look at the catalog. And if anything sticks out to you, sign up for it!
My goal in writing this editorial is simply to push Dordt and its students to realize that politics are an important part of our lives and our witness and that conviction needs to be reflected in our education.
We need to get involved in the public square, even and especially when it gets messy. Politics are not going away any time soon. Although the election cycle craziness is (hopefully) going to die down soon, politics are more than just casting a ballot every few years.
Christians are called to actively involve themselves in redemptive kingdom work while on Earth. Our engagement in the political sphere ties directly into our Christian witness, and it is essential that we look at politics through a biblical lens, not a partisan one.