New Political Science Department and Faculty Strengthens Major Opportunities for Students

Political science professor Scott Waller leads new department

Sep. 18, 2014 By Stephen Day

This fall, Biola University announces an independent Political Science department with an emphasis on providing greater resources and opportunities for students. The new department under the careful guidance of Department Chair Scott Waller will allow for significant growth in what is already an evolving field of study.


Waller, who has been at Biola since 2003, is joined by professor Darren Guerra and new faculty member Tom Copeland.


“It’s a very exciting time for us,” said Waller. “We have a lot of existing good things that we’re working with, but we’re looking now to do a foundational review to see what we are doing that makes the most sense. From a systemic basis, we’re looking to be the best political science department we can be, particularly at a Christian university.”


The political science major, which was formerly offered through the History and Political Science Department, offers concentrations in political science and public administration. However, Waller is hoping to augment the current program with an international relations minor in the near future, which will greatly impact students in a variety of different majors.


“I think we will see students from a host of other majors, at the very least, start adding to our numbers as minors [once that happens],” said Waller.


He hopes the minor will appeal to all students who want to supplement their degree and enter into international business, development and politics upon graduating.


The department split comes after political science majors outnumbered history majors at Biola for the fourth successive semester last Spring. The new department gives the 70-80 students currently enrolled in the major a greater foundation to pursue graduate degrees and careers in a variety of fields.


“Both [departments] will flourish more if they can provide their own direction,” said Waller. “We’re doing some things now as our own department that we just couldn’t have done under the history umbrella.”


Most importantly, the change allows for the addition of more full-time political scientists.


“The addition of Dr. Guerra [last year], brought me a colleague who could expand the core offerings,” said Waller.


Hiring international relations specialist Tom Copeland this semester also strengthens the department.


“In a world of now increasingly global politics, adding Dr. Copeland really adds the last dimension and allows us to take off,” said Waller. “Now we have the manpower and the resources to fully implement what we want to do.”


The department will continue to give students an opportunity to participate in semester-long internships with a public or governmental agency, and will also offer the CCCU Best Semester in Washington D.C., where students gain hands-on experience in a political office.


The department’s hands-on approach to study complements the new and diverse range of courses that will be offered. This year, Copeland is teaching courses like global terrorism, foreign policy and a 2015 summer class in London called “Liberty and the Free Market in England.”


“Our world is such a fascinating and complicated place,” said Copeland. “I just hope to be able to help students start to navigate how their fields interact with globalization and world politics.”


While the new department will enhance the program’s academic reputation, Waller is adamant that political science is also looking beyond academics.


“We have a vision that aligns with Biola’s vision to see beyond that — to see how God may raise up people of influence in an area that has a hugely significant role in impacting the world,” said Waller. “That goes way beyond just getting a diploma here.”


The department’s formation comes just one year after the retirement of Dave Peters, who founded and taught political science at Biola for 47 years.


On Friday, Sept.19, the department is hosting a kick-off and dedication banquet for the new department for faculty and students, which will feature keynote speaker J.P. Moreland.


Written by Stephen Day, iBiola Reporter. For more information contact Jenna Bartlo, media relations specialist, at 562.777.4016 or

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