By Laura Gasvoda
While most ACU students and faculty were going about business as usual on Thursday, Dr. Caron Gentry, associate professor of political science, was spending the day at a White House briefing in Washington, D.C.
Gentry is one of 40 evangelical leaders and academics selected to attend a briefing on U.S. policy in Iraq hosted specifically for religious and political science scholars. The event was intentionally organized to closely follow President Obama’s recent announcement that all combat forces have been withdrawn from Iraqi soil.
Gentry is not alone in representing ACU at the White House. Other ACU affiliates who attended the event include Dr. Mark Hamilton, associate dean of the Graduate School of Theology, and Dr. Shaun Casey, an ACU alumnus currently teaching at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.
This is not the first time ACU faculty members have participated in events at the White House, State Department, or Executive Buildings in Washington, D.C., according to Dr. Neal Coates, associate professor of political science. It may, however, be the first time faculty members have been invited to a briefing of this nature by the National Security Council and senior White House officials, Coates said.
Gentry has done extensive research on human security issues including, but not limited to, female terrorism. She earned a doctoral degree in international studies at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, writing a thesis on “Women in Revolutionary Organizations,” and has since continued her study of international issues.
“It is a great honor, and I am excited to be a part of the discussion,” Gentry said.
Gentry describes much of her work as answering hard questions, such as “how we as Christians can better respond to human security, and how to garner responsibility to human security.” Human security, as Gentry explains it, encompasses much more than military issues and includes health, economic, structural, and environmental issues affecting people as well.
“Dr. Gentry has written widely on terrorism and the role of suicide as a strategy, and has also spoken and written about Christianity and international relations,” Coates said. “Because of this, her perspective in this gathering will be very valuable.”
“The purpose of the briefing is to obtain feedback from Christian academics on past acts and current U.S. policy in Iraq,” Coates said.
Coates said he hopes there will be ample time for questions and discussion following White House officials’ presentations.