2021-2022 Catalog with Addendum 
    Sep 30, 2023  
2021-2022 Catalog with Addendum [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Political Science and Criminal Justice

Neal Coates, Chair
ACU Box 29143
Abilene, Texas 79699-9143
Hardin Administration Building, Room 220

Phone: 325-674-2095
Fax: 325-674-6962
Email: coatesn@acu.edu
Web: https://www.acu.edu/academics/undergraduate/bachelor-of-arts-in-political-science/
and https://www.acu.edu/academics/undergraduate/bachelor-in-criminal-justice/


Neal Coates, Professor
Bob Delony, Instructor
David Dillman, Professor
Candice Ortbals-Wiser, Professor
Chris Riley, Assistant Professor

The Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice offers the Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. The Department also offers the BA in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations and Comparative Politics for students desiring a focused study of world politics. A minor in Political Science or Criminal Justice may be added to other majors. The Department also offers a minor in Public Service, appropriate for students across campus, and also designed for those in the Jack Pope Fellows Program.


The purpose of the Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice is to provide a program of study to help students understand domestic and international politics and law enforcement theory and practice, and to prepare students for informed and active participation in the political arena and in criminal justice careers.

Opportunities for careers include:

  • Government Service: Public service is a major emphasis of the department. ACU’s Public Service Internship Program gives outstanding students part-time, public-sector work experience along with their course work.
  • Law: Political science is an excellent preparation for law school, and many recent graduates have gone on to successful careers in the various fields of law.
  • Criminal Justice: A major in criminal justice prepares the student for a broad area of professional career options in the field of criminal justice and law, including: federal, state, and local law enforcement; pretrial, probation, and parole services; correctional careers; victim/witness assistance; graduate studies in criminology or criminal justice; or a potential for law school admission.
  • Media and Journalism: Politics and media are intertwined, and students preparing for a career in broadcasting or journalism should be informed about politics and government.
  • Secondary Teaching: The Department of History and Global Studies, in cooperation with the Department of Political Science and the Department of Teacher Education, offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree with a teaching specialization in social studies.
  • College Teaching: The Department gives a broad exposure to politics and government, which is excellent preparation for graduate study and teaching at the community college, senior college, or university level.

Study Abroad Expectations

All students are encouraged to participate in ACU’s Study Abroad program. Classes offered at Study Abroad sites vary. Academic advisors can assist students in planning ahead for their Study Abroad experience and should be consulted during the freshman year.

Admission Requirements

Before being admitted to the Bachelor of Arts in Political Science or Criminal Justice programs, a student must satisfy the requirements listed in the ACT/SAT Placement Information  section of this catalog.

Legal Studies Minor

Chris Riley, J.D., Pre-Law Advisor
ACU Box 29143
Abilene, Texas 79699-9143
Hardin Administration Building, Room 220

Phone: 325-674-2095
Fax: 325-674-6962


The legal studies minor provides undergraduate students an interdisciplinary approach to the study and practice of law. The minor also helps students prepare for advanced legal studies following graduation or work in highly-regulated fields while exploring unique opportunities and challenges they will likely encounter as people of faith in the legal profession.

Peace and Social Justice Minor

David Dillman, Advisor
ACU Box 29143
Abilene, Texas 79699-9143
Hardin Administration Building, Room 220

Phone: 325-674-2095
Fax: 325-674-6962


The Peace and Social Justice minor is an eighteen credit hour, liberal arts, interdisciplinary program available to all students as a complement to any major. It focuses on the question of how humans resolve conflicts and how disputes can give way to peace and justice rather than ruin. Because conflict may be international, within a given society, or personal, peace and social justice studies necessarily draw upon a wide variety of disciplines, including philosophy, political science, history, psychology, theology, economics, sociology, and literature.

This minor is unique in three ways. First, its focus is on peace and social justice, and it integrates these topics from among several disciplines. Second, it is grounded in a Christian worldview and is, in part, inspired by the particular history of Churches of Christ. Finally, it is scholarly, but not disinterested. It freely admits that peace is better than war, as those studying medicine favor health over disease. Its bias is that peace is not just the absence of war, but must include values and structures that support human flourishing. In other words, this minor urges not only deep thought but also thoughtful action.

Within this minor, philosophers and theologians will ask about the nature of human beings and the meaning of justice and prod us to think about how religion has been a barrier to as well as a motive for peace. Historians and sociologists will point to the causes of war and injustice and help us understand their short- and long-term effects.

Psychologists will deepen our understanding of human behavior and give us tools for more peaceful relationships, while political scientists and economists will ask us to think about differing notions of power and will advance our understanding of international sources of conflict and their structural or organizational solutions.

The study of peace is both idealistic and practical, and this minor is designed to address both dimensions. If we cannot figure out a way to live peaceably in our daily relationships or in our international politics, we are doomed to continued conflict in our homes, workplaces, and world. As philosopher Hannah Arendt has said, “Violence, like all action, changes the world, but the most probable change is to a more violent world.” Thus, having understanding and skills to take an active role in peacemaking is utterly practical. At the same time, a dose of idealism is what motivates peace and social justice action. To quote sociologist Elise Boulding, “We cannot achieve what we cannot imagine.”

Mission of the Program

The mission of Peace and Social Justice Studies is to motivate and prepare students to be active peacemakers in their homes, churches, workplaces, local communities, nations, and world.

Students who complete the Peace and Social Justice Studies minor will be exposed to ways of thinking, skills, and experiences which will motivate and enable them to contribute to the resolution of conflict so that these conflicts result in justice and creative development rather than violence, and be prepared to engage in graduate-level peace and social justice studies.

Public Service Minor (Pope Fellows Only)

David Dillman, Director
ACU Box 29143
Abilene, Texas 79699-9143
Hardin Administration Building, Room 220

Phone: 325-674-2095 Fax: 325-674-6962
Email: dillmand@acu.edu

Abilene Christian University recognizes Judge Jack Pope’s considerable contributions to his state and nation in his career as a public servant. In honor of his accomplishments and service, the Board of Trustees of ACU established the Jack Pope Fellows Program. The Jack Pope Fellows Program offers fellowships to outstanding Abilene Christian University students pursuing careers in public service. Acceptance into the Program requires students to complete an interdisciplinary 24-hour Minor in Public Service, which is administered by the Department of Political Science (see Admission/Course Requirements below).

The program gives students opportunities to learn about public service in the classroom, attend special lectures, gain practical experience in public service, and participate in service activities. The Jack Pope Fellows Program is interdisciplinary and applicants are drawn from all majors and fields of study offered at Abilene Christian University. Pope Fellowships are intended for those who will shape the culture and provide a Christian influence in an area of public service. Public service is broadly defined as careers at all levels and in all functions of government as well as related public service sectors.

Public service, in all its many forms, is a noble calling. It is so important that we must not leave it to chance. We should, instead, actively search for and recruit young men and women who have good minds and character. We must then provide them the training they can use to solve the complex problems of our times. If we fail to do this, we will leave important civic matters to untrained, indifferent or unprincipled people. We must begin now.

- Judge Jack Pope

Admission Requirements

To be selected for a Jack Pope Fellowship, a student must:

  1. Be a full-time student at Abilene Christian University at the time of selection to the program.
  2. Be a junior pursuing a bachelor’s degree during the 2020-2021 academic year. A student will meet the definition of “junior” if one has completed more than half the second year of college but not more than half the third year of college by the beginning of the 2020-2021 academic year.
  3. Currently have (and subsequently maintain) a grade point average of at least 3.25.
  4. Submit an application portfolio demonstrating a genuine commitment toward pursuing a public service career.
  5. Interview with the Jack Pope Fellows Steering Committee.



    Bachelor of ArtsBachelor of ScienceMinor


      Criminal JusticeLegal StudiesPeace and Social JusticePolitical Science