Milligan’s new political science major opens doors in many fields

Edmonds, Zetterberg and Peacock
L-R: Amy Edmonds, Erik Zetterberg,
and Mark Peacock.

MILLIGAN COLLEGE, TN (Nov. 2, 2012) — As foreign and domestic politics heat up the headlines during the presidential election, the timing could not be better for Milligan College’s new political science major, which began this fall.

“Even when it’s not election season, political issues matter,” said Colin Blowers, a Milligan senior from Elizabethton, Tenn. “These conversations people are having are so valuable. I think it’s wonderful that the political science major could come onto the Milligan academic scene at a time when students are reminded of the import of these issues.”

Blowers, who is particularly interested in Middle East politics, spent the fall 2011 semester studying abroad in Jerusalem. He soaked up Milligan’s humanities curriculum and political science courses. In those classes, Blowers tackled issues he considers foundational to politics, such as what it means to be human.

But there was one missing piece — during Blowers’ first three years at Milligan, the college did not offer a political science major. Blowers, then a humanities major and political science minor, wrote letters to Milligan’s president and academic dean requesting that they consider adding a major. Interest grew among other students and faculty, as well.

In May, Milligan announced it would offer a political science major beginning this fall. Blowers will be the first political science major to graduate from the college in May 2013.

“Even if Milligan hadn’t produced a political science major, I still would’ve been well prepared,” Blowers said. “But to find out they were adding this major was the cherry on top of my experience here.”

The major offers two emphases — the general track and the international politics track. The general track is designed for students who desire a broad foundation in all areas of politics within the United States, while the international politics track prepares students to engage political realities within the context of global studies.

On Oct. 16, Milligan’s political science major sponsored its first campuswide event, “The Choice 2012.” This panel discussion of the presidential election’s issues featured members of Milligan’s faculty and staff. The discussion took place in front of a packed crowd in Milligan’s McMahan Student Center.

Dr. Amy Edmonds, assistant professor of political science at Milligan and the moderator of The Choice 2012 event, is excited to see the Milligan community’s growing interest in political science. She hopes that the new major will foster additional opportunities for campus discussion, even beyond election season.

“There were so many people at the panel discussion that we ran out of chairs and many could only watch while standing in the back,” Edmonds said. “I am heartened by the fact that so many students want more information and knowledge about governmental policies.

“Political science is about understanding the big discourse, from local politics all the way to a global perspective. It goes hand in hand with a liberal arts education and with our call as Christians to be salt and light in the world,” Edmonds said.

Edmonds taught at Milligan for two years as an adjunct instructor and joined the faculty full time this fall to help get the political science major under way. She has a Ph.D. in political science and a master’s degree in international relations from Baylor University (Waco, Texas). Her primary concentration is comparative and international politics. Her other areas of expertise include American government and religion and politics.

Edmonds developed an interest in international politics at a young age, as the daughter of missionaries in Venezuela. Her experience taught her that an understanding of political science is not reserved for aspiring lawmakers and attorneys. It transcends “politics,” as many Americans understand it, and prepares students for the “big picture” in many fields, she explained.

“Political science is helpful for students who want to become missionaries because they need to know how governments work,” Edmonds said. “Students in other majors, such as nursing, also can benefit from political science courses. I teach a course on public policy, and health care is a large part of that course. And of course, political science is useful for students who want to go into business, law and diplomacy and conflict resolution.”

Milligan has a history of preparing students for careers in political science.

“Milligan provides students with the spiritual growth and guidance needed to make a real difference in the world, and that includes the world of politics,” said Ryan Green, a 2012 graduate who began a dual JD/MBA program this fall at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

Green, an Elizabethton native, graduated from Milligan a semester early, allowing him time to work in the field before matriculating into law school. He spent four months working in Congressman Phil Roe’s office in Washington, D.C. There he gave tours of the Capitol building, ran bills to the House floor, spoke with constituents about Roe’s views on certain issues and attended committee briefings.

While at Milligan, Green experienced many things that prepared him well for his work in D.C., as well as for entry into law school. This included spending a summer abroad with the International Business Institute.

“I spoke with Milligan Professor Mark Peacock about the new political science major, and I was excited for the potential it has,” Green said. “There is no doubt that the current political environment could use more Christian thinkers. Undoubtedly, we need more Christian men and women, regardless of political affiliation, to take up positions of leadership and influence in our government.”

Milligan students have enjoyed numerous opportunities to broaden their study of political science. This month, Edmonds is sponsoring an academic team of students to represent Milligan at the Southern Regional United Nations. The team will travel to Atlanta Nov. 15-17 and compete with more than 50 other colleges and universities to negotiate and debate important international issues.

Students may choose to participate in the American Studies Program in Washington, D.C. This semester-long program is offered through the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities’ BestSemester program. The American Studies program gives students a front-row seat to everything from public policy debates to social justice efforts.

The BestSemester program also offers international programs in places such as the Middle East, Latin America and China.

In addition, the small class sizes at Milligan allow faculty to mentor students and work with them to enhance their studies in their areas of interest. Erik Zetterberg, a 2012 graduate who is studying international law at Syracuse University this fall, completed an independent study on international human rights in preparation for his future, which he hopes might someday include a position with the United Nations.

“I was a history major and political science minor, but Milligan offered great opportunities for me and fed my interest in human rights law,” Zetterberg said. “I chose Milligan because it is a small, Christian liberal arts college. To me, that was more important than my major — but I am so glad they have added political science to the mix.”

For more information about the political science major at Milligan, contact the admissions office at 800.262.8337 or email

Posted by on November 2, 2012.