Let's Get Political: Public Affairs Majors and Programs That Prepare You for a Life of Service

by Ashley Eneriz

A reported 97 million eligible voters did not cast a ballot in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Of that population, 40 percent noted they chose not to vote because they did not like the candidate or campaign issues, or they were not interested in politics. But events that unfolded after that election actually galvanized millions of Americans who may have shown little prior interest in politics, to the point that the 2018 midterms had the highest voter turnout in a century.

As Americans enter a new era of heightened political engagement, many college-bound students are looking for a path to careers that make a difference through politics and public service. Public affairs majors work toward a degree with the aim of understanding complex political systems and preparing for a career of service in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. With this in mind, Azusa Pacific University works to cultivate thoughtful conversations that address the nation’s most pressing civic concerns, and recently introduced its Center for Public Affairs. Through this program, students can embrace their call to public service and impact their communities in myriad ways.

Understanding the Power of Politics

In a morning chapel session, Jennifer Walsh, Ph.D., dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at APU, shared the Bible verse Jeremiah 29:7, which reads, “Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

Dr. Walsh then connected the passage to the importance of public outreach. “If we are going to live intentionally in a way that benefits our own lives,” she said, “we cannot ignore the broader community.”

Students in public affairs majors at APU learn not only how the political system works, but how they can leverage legislative procedures to personally impact the poor, the unrepresented and underserved, and those who need justice in the community.

Studying in the Heart of Sacramento

Azusa Pacific University doesn’t leave politics in the classroom; the school embraces California’s political involvement and has set up direct efforts in the state’s capital. Students interested in public affairs can now spend a semester in Sacramento immersing themselves in opportunities for internships and mentorship as part of the Center for Public Affairs.

Additionally, political science majors will have the opportunity to dive into specific areas of research—such as veteran assistance, foster youth needs, homelessness, public health, and education—and put what they learn in the classroom into direct practice. Graduates looking to earn an advanced degree at APU can work toward a Master of Public Administration either on the Sacramento campus or online.

So, Is Public Affairs for You?

Signing up to major in political science or international relations at APU means going beyond one political party. Rather, you explore every aspect of government and policy-making through a Christ-centered lens, discovering how policymakers can transform their communities for the better.

As a political science major, you can advocate for justice by gaining the knowledge needed to recognize (and write) good laws. Meanwhile, international relations majors prepare to be thoughtful leaders by acquiring the tools necessary to make sense of global events and articulate Christian perspectives on foreign affairs and diplomacy.

Brandy Chappell, Ph.D., director for the Center for Public Affairs at APU, previously worked in municipal government and noted that her background helped her deal with different challenges concerning public health, aging, and safety. “As a Christian, I saw how much impact we can have when we have a Christ-centered frame of mind and we’re addressing moral hazards and public problems using the empathy and the values that we find in our faith,” she explained.

Curious to learn more about Azusa Pacific University’s public affairs programs and Sacramento study away semester? Request more information today.