Davis & Elkins Introduces Minor in Faith and Public Policy

Date Posted: 

Monday, February 26, 2018

ELKINS - Davis & Elkins College students will have a new opportunity to delve deeper into the ethics of political and social thought. With support from alumnus and Trustee David Morrison, ’79, and his wife, Phebe Novakovic, the College has introduced a minor in faith and public policy.

Dr. Bryan Wagoner, assistant professor of religious studies and philosophy, says the idea for the new minor evolved from students’ interest in expanding the programming currently offered at the Morrison-Novakovic Center for Faith and Public Policy. Dedicated on the D&E campus in fall 2016, the residential Center is an open space where students, faculty, visiting scholars and others can explore issues of faith, social and public policy.

“I am thrilled Davis & Elkins is now able to offer an academic minor in Faith and Public Policy, bridging the perceived gap between scholarship and advocacy,” said Wagoner, who also serves as director of the Morrison-Novakovic Center. “Students who elect this minor will explore ethics, religious diversity, comparative politics, sustainability and a capstone course, focusing specifically on the intersections and ambiguities of faith and public policy.”

Morrison, a retired aerospace executive with an extensive career in the federal government, and Novakovic, chairwoman and chief executive officer of General Dynamics, have provided inspiration and resources to facilitate the work of the residential Morrison-Novakovic Center and support the new academic minor.

The first course, a seminar titled “Faith and Public Policy,” began in January and offers an exploration of issues revolving around formulations of the intersection of faith claims and their influence on the common good. The specific foci for this semester’s seminar are “just war,” torture and racial dimensions of mass incarceration. Instructed by Wagoner, the course is taught as a seminar with frequent outside speakers including Morrison, other scholars and current and former government and policy officials. In April, the Rev. Ron Stief, executive director of the National Religious Coalition Against Torture, will be a visiting speaker in the seminar. He will also offer a campus-wide presentation at 7:30 p.m. April 12 in Halliehurst addressing current issues in the torture debate.

Carson Crawford, a sophomore religious studies major from Moorefield, West Virginia, is enrolled in the “Faith and Public Policy” seminar and is the first student to declare the new academic minor.

“The class and the new minor challenge me to take my faith out of the pew and into the voting booth to fight the social, political and economic inequalities that affect not just American citizens, but all people,” Crawford said.

Course work for the new minor will prepare graduates to work in any public policy-related field such as government or organizations focusing on human rights, faith and advocacy or other non-governmental entities or advocacy think tanks. Students could also elect to further their studies on the graduate level in various humanities and policy fields.

“This new minor is a welcome addition to our curriculum and significantly advances both the mission of the Morrison-Novakovic Center and Davis & Elkins College,” said Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Rob Phillips. “The expertise of our faculty, the range of issues covered in the courses and the possibility of bringing distinguished theorists and practitioners to campus will provide current and future students with an opportunity for sustained and thoughtful study on a topic of abiding personal, social and political importance.”

Related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Davis & Elkins College is located in Elkins, 2 hours east of Charleston, 3 hours south of Pittsburgh and 4 hours west of Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit the College website at www.dewv.edu or call 304-637-1243.

Faith and Public Policy Class