AU’s national security studies program is not only new, but one of few integrative undergraduate security studies majors in the country. The difference for students studying the major at AU is the incorporation of Christian ethics as the base in preparing for a career of public service. The students also have the privilege to learn from President John Pistole, former head of TSA and FBI deputy director.
The curriculum is intentionally interdisciplinary, with courses in political science, criminal justice, history, sociology and psychology, meant to prepare students for public service or security-related positions in the private sector.
Staples of the major are American national government, political violence and terrorism, homeland security and American foreign policy.
The electives of the major tie directly into the context and understanding of this specific field, including nature of crime and social deviance, drugs and American society, and history of Russia and the Soviet Union.
Phoebe Mangas, a senior national security major, describes the program as primarily focused on preparing individuals for a career in any Federal Agency or to participate in civil service.
Mangas came to Anderson as a global studies major before transitioning to criminal justice her sophomore year. When the national security major was introduced at the beginning of her junior year, she switched yet again.
“I had been preparing myself for the major without knowing it existed,” says Mangas.
Students like Mangas have the opportunity to meet in class or individually to discuss careers in national security and cybersecurity, especially in the FBI, with Pistole. He is involved with the major on an almost-weekly basis.
“I have been impressed with the caliber, interest and aptitude of students in these areas,” says President Pistole.
With three decades of national security experience, Pistole believes that his experiences will be beneficial to students at AU who pursue national security studies.
“I believe this will be helpful in two respects, including subject matter expertise about how the U.S. intelligence community and federal law enforcement work to deal with national security issues,” says Pistole. “Second, in terms of being able to invite nationally-known leaders to campus to engage with students, faculty and staff on National Security issues.”
Students receive advice, guidance and encouragement from Pistole. His support carries over into the people he helps brings to campus: Bob Mueller, former director of the FBI; Lloyd Rowland, former deputy director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency; David Shedd, a U.S. intelligence office and former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency; and, most recently, Eric Holder, the former attorney general of the United States.
“I believe that this type of national engagement will help make reality our vision of making Anderson University distinctive and compelling,” says Pistole.
The political science department houses many professors qualified to help further the vision for AU.
Dr. Michael Frank, professor of political science; Dr. Jaye Rogers, professor of history; and a handful of adjuncts brought on by the department, all bring different specialties to the table. One specializes in American government and pre-law, one is a specialist in foreign policy and a Senior Fellow of the Sagamore Institute and another previously worked under Pistole.
“Our advisers are the perfect balance of encouraging and instructive, and it’s hard to imagine finding anyone better,” says Mangas.
Studying this field at a Christian university is seen as beneficial to students because being a Christian in an area that isn’t inherently faith-based brings light to questions about compromise.
“We have very frank and open conversations about possible realities, we talk about boundaries, which forces us sometimes to play very different roles,” says Mangas. “One of the best things I’ve learned is anything besides my opinion, and I love that I’m pushed to argue against myself in this field.”
Pistole says, “It is my hope that by equipping students with a strong liberal arts background in these areas, done in the context of a Christian university, that we will provide a future generation of servant leaders who also live out our other four core values of integrity, excellence, generosity and responsibility.”