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Teaching from a Biblical Worldview with Andrew Carico, Ph.D.

Andrew Carico, Ph.D. is passionate about public policy and teaching students about law, history, and politics through a biblical worldview lens. After a brief season as a political journalist, Andrew now focuses his attention on helping students see how their participation in the political process can help address real-world issues and positively contribute to human flourishing. It’s a pleasure to welcome Andrew to our Q&A discussion today.

How many years have you taught at Jessup?

4 years

What classes do you teach?

I teach in the Public Policy program and I routinely teach core courses such as American Government, Political Philosophy, Political Process, and Constitution and Civil Rights.

Briefly describe your path to teaching.

When I graduated from college, I had a desire to pursue law and go into politics. This had been a dream of mine since I was six years old as I was enamored by the 1992 presidential election (yes, I was that child). However, God used some incredible graduate school professors to help me find my true purpose in academia. In 2011, I began my Ph.D. in political science at Claremont Graduate University. During that time, I had the opportunity to teach at multiple universities in Southern California as an adjunct instructor (both at Christian and public universities). God used that season to allow me to grow as an academic and to hone my craft in the classroom. In 2017, I completed my Ph.D. and joined the Jessup faculty full-time. There’s nothing like working with students, helping them explore great ideas in service of the great commission. For me, teaching is not a profession, it’s a calling.

How are you successfully transitioning your traditional classes to remote classes during this COVID-19 quarantine period?

I was taught many years ago that a teacher must be a chemist, always studying the chemistry and makeup of his class. That mindset has benefited me in this season, where agility in teaching is a premium. I moved my traditional courses to Zoom, using that platform to engage students and communicate in an, albeit superficial, still face-to-face setting. We were able to successfully continue classes, having fascinating class discussions throughout. I’ve found that a proper “mindset” is helpful during this period of time. I’ve embraced this season as an opportunity to sharpen my virtual communication skills and help students learn to communicate in a modality that will be increasingly important for them in their future careers (pandemic or not).

What’s unique about your online teaching style?

I would say four things. First, my online classes are nearly as personalized as my in-class sessions. This involves engaging with students individually during our class sessions and discussions or connecting with students individually via email at various points in the class (or in the discussion forum if it’s a fully-online course). Students really benefit from individualized connections, especially online. Second, I try to bring a sense of enthusiasm about the content into the online world that generates momentum amongst my students. In a good classroom (physical or virtual), everyone learns, including the professor. I’m always trying to learn more about the content I’m teaching and bring a sense of excitement about the new ideas, concepts, perspectives, etc. that we are all discovering. Third, it’s crucial to be clear and deliberate in communication throughout the course. It’s possible to both over-communicate and under-communicate, but finding the proper amount of information that is resourceful yet easily comprehended is key. Finally, I love to have fun! I believe it is important to balance seriousness about the course content with a sense of humor (especially about myself) in the classroom (virtual or on campus). All of this must be done while remaining considerate of students’ needs. Students appreciate this intentional approach.

What do you like most about the online learning mode at Jessup?

In one word, “intentionality.” There is intentionality in our online course designs, starting months before the courses begin by detailing the adoption of textbooks, the types of assignments used, the crafting of discussion questions, etc. This process compels an element of intentionality on the part of students who are required to assess the content deeply from our online courses and intentionally engage with me and other students throughout the course. The intentionality of online learning at Jessup makes for a rigorous and valuable experience.

How can a student get the most out of an online learning experience?

Students should take advantage of online flexibility while also thinking about how they can inform our increasingly digital culture. In terms of flexibility, we all have different schedules and times of the day when our brains are more attuned and alert. Use that time to engage in your online classes, dig into the discussion forums, and work on your assignments. In terms of informing our digital culture, I want students to consider how the content we are studying can help them understand our current situation and our increasing dependence on technology. Such an approach prepares students to be redemptive voices in the broader culture. Overall, embracing the dynamic complexity of online education can help students navigate challenges and optimize opportunities.

In addition to teaching at Jessup, do you (did you) have another career?

I had a brief season before I began my Ph.D. when I worked as a journalist for a news outlet in California, writing daily articles about state and local politics. Not only was it fascinating and fast-paced work, but it also provided me a deep-dive education in California state and local politics. When you are writing for a public audience, especially elected officials and state employees, you need to have your facts straight. I learned a lot in the process. That experience was incredibly valuable for me and I’ve carried much of what I learned into my classrooms, not just in the content I learned but in the skillsets I acquired. Looking back, I never would have imagined that experience would benefit my academic career as much as it has.

How are you using your “real-world” experience to help students in your program?

COVID-19 has brought many important governmental and political issues to the forefront. Policy questions ranging from stimulus spending to public health are now at the top of everyone’s minds. Ultimately, I believe that politics is not only shaped by the culture but can shape the culture (a point that is often forgotten). I try to help students see how their participation in the political process—from being an informed citizen to holding elected office—can help address these real-world issues, shape the culture, and contribute to human flourishing.

How do you integrate faith into an online learning environment?

Aside from having prayer and brief devotions, I teach from a biblical worldview. In many cases, significant worldview questions lie underneath the major political and policy issues of the day. I guide my students to see those larger worldview implications as they connect to the topics we are studying and our discussions about current events.

What three people (dead or alive) would you invite to a dinner party?

Three? That seems really difficult. I’m going to take some liberty and stretch that to four: Aristotle, because of his wisdom; William Tyndale, because of his devotion to God’s Word; Abraham Lincoln, because of his conviction; and Winston Churchill, because of his courage. If I could squeeze in one more, it would be Wolfgang Puck, because of his pizzas!

For more information about Jessup’s Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy, please visit the program page.

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