By Tyler Bui | Staff Writer, Video by Nate Smith | Broadcast Reporter
The College of Arts and Sciences at Baylor has approved a new military studies minor to begin in spring 2020, which is open to students of all majors.
The minor will focus on combining military studies with various majors and disciplines and will teach students the importance of military activities and how they are connected to various aspects in society.
Dr. Julie Anne Sweet, professor of history and director of the military studies minor at Baylor, said the program will involve a diverse group of majors available at Baylor.
“The military studies minor is an interdisciplinary program that combines history, political science, religion, philosophy, as well as any other class that you can think of that has some sort of military connection to it,” Sweet said. “The great thing is that you can major in whatever you want and still minor in the military studies program.”
Sweet said the minor will contextualize the actions of the military on a global scale and give students a better understanding of the military itself.
“It will give you a global perspective of how pervasive military activities are throughout the world today and in the past and also [provide] an appreciation for what the military does [for us] as a country, and in other countries as well. It’s a way for our students to be able to understand global affairs from a military perspective.”
Dr. David Clinton, department chair and professor of political science at Baylor, said this new minor will bring together Baylor’s various classes that already explore this topic.
“We had individual courses in the history, political science and philosophy departments that dealt with various aspects of the use of military force in international relations, but there was no mechanism for bringing them together and allowing a student to gain a greater depth of understanding of this subject,” Clinton said. “With a creation of a minor with identified courses that a student can choose from, students can gain that depth.”
One unique aspect of Baylor’s military studies minor is its Christian approach to the military and international affairs.
“It’s unique here at Baylor because of the Christian perspective – because we’re being so intentional about including [religion],” Sweet said. “Religion is an important aspect of our military studies minor here at Baylor, as opposed to other schools that offer it, because we’re going to take a more Christian and ethical approach to it and be sure to include that in all of the different classes that we offer.”
Sweet said this minor is universally applicable regardless of a student’s field of study because of the military’s far-reaching influence.
“The primary focus is the military; [but] the military is not just about guns and soldiers— there’s so much more,” Sweet said. “There are personnel, chaplains, the people on the home front, families, infrastructure, administration and leadership. Once you start digging, it’s amazing how many different departments actually have some sort of military connection.”
Sweet said she hopes that a diverse group of students will be participating in the minor.
“It sounds like it’s all about arts and sciences, but really it’s open to anybody. [Whether] you’re in education or in the sciences, if you’re planning on being a medic or computer science—technology is a huge part of the military. It would be great to have all sorts of different disciplines be able to contribute and participate in the military studies program,” Sweet said.
This new minor will further the development of the veteran and ROTC programs at Baylor.
“I’m excited that Baylor is stepping up and realizing how important the military is in everyday life,” Sweet said. “We’re already being recognized for the work that we do for student veterans; this is just taking it to the next level – making it available to every student of every major.”
Clinton said that the knowledge gained through this minor will make students better citizens.
“In addition to the career opportunities, I would say that knowing about this subject and gaining familiarity with this subject that will come from completing the minor will make students better citizens,” Clinton said. “It will make them better able to judge the necessity or lack of necessity for the resort of military force by their own government or other governments. It will make them better able to understand international relations.”
Sweet said educating students now is important for shaping the future of the military and of the country.
“It’s so important in today’s world to understand how pervasive the military is in both a good and bad way and to be able to use that and understand it, appreciate it and steer it in the right direction,” Sweet said.