Dr. Jeff VanDerWerff ’83 Professor of U.S. Government & Public Life; Dean of the Social Sciences


Ph.D., University of Kansas
M.A., University of Missouri (Kansas City)
B.A., Northwestern College

VPH 300A

Dr. VanDerWerff teaches American politics, public policy, religion and politics, and constitutional law. He also serves as the pre-law adviser to students. A Northwestern College graduate, he holds a doctorate in American politics and public administration. Research interests include religion and politics and political theology. He is a member of both the American Political Science Association and Christians in Political Science.

PSC101SS - American Government

(4 credits) (NWCore option under Self and Society) (American politics) A broad survey of the major political and governmental institutions in the United States, this course examines how citizens attempt to influence their government and how the government responds. The course also develops the foundations for a biblical perspective on the role of government and the role of citizens.

PSC220 - Politics and Public Policy

(4 credits, alternate years, consult department) (American politics) A general examination of domestic and foreign policies of the United States. Education, health care, civil rights and economic policy are among the various polices explored. Particular attention is given to the differences between Christian liberal and Christian conservative policy perspectives of problems such as crime, discrimination, poverty, degradation of the environment and others.

PSC260CC - Human Geography

(4 credits) (NWCore option under Cross-Cultural Engagement) This course introduces the study of political, physical and cultural features of space and place around the world. Familiarity with major physical and political features of the world's regions will be stressed. In addition, the course will raise various issues connected with the cultural aspect of geography, e.g., perceptions of place, changes in space over time, the interactions of human communities, the natural environment and patterns of human presence on the land.

PSC295 - Electoral Politics Field Experience

(2 credits, alternate years, consult department) (American politics) This course provides an opportunity to explore elections as the central mechanism of democratic accountability in American government, by means of supervised reading and reflective involvement in an election campaign. Prerequisite: PSC101SS. Note: Graded on a pass/no pass basis.

PSC320 - Christians and the Political Order

(4 credits, alternate years, consult department) (American politics) This course centers on the implications of the Christian faith for Christians in the political order. We will explore historical and current Christian interpretations of the role of government in society, distilling biblical values which undergird them. Prerequisite: junior standing, or permission of the instructor.

Book review of Paul Moke’s (2015) Earl Warren and the Struggle for Justice. Lexington Books. In the American Review of Politics, Forthcoming, Fall 2017.

Reforming Political Discourse. Kicked-off a ten-month virtual dialogue or “Respectful Conversations” hosted by Harold Heie. Along with my assigned conversation partner, Kim Van Es, we addressed the initial subject: Talking Past Each Other, or Worse? September 2017.

“The Core Practices of Citizenship: Re-enchanting Our Conception of Civic Duty.” Contributed to the Andreas Center’s (Dordt College) online publican, In All Things. This reflection was the second in a three-part series on the responsibilities citizenship, July 2016.

“A Political Theology for Engaging Democracy: Letting Public Life Preach and Presidential Politics.” Paper presented at the Iowa Conference on Presidential Politics, Dordt College (Sioux Center, IA), October 29-31, 2015.

“A Political Theology for Engaging Democracy: Letting Public Life Preach—Three Perspectives.” Paper presented at Christians in Political Science biennial meeting. Freedom and Responsibility in a Modern World, Azusa Pacific University (Azusa, CA), May 29-31, 2014.

Starting in the spring of 2010 began writing a monthly report on the politics and policy of Iowa for the Consulate General of Japan in Chicago. Have produced 70-plus reports and counting.

Dean of the Social Sciences (selected by VPAA; 2017-present) One of four divisional/academic deans will serve to advocate and assist the efforts of colleagues in the departments of Business & Economics, Education, Social Work, Sociology & Criminal Justice, Psychology and Political Science.

Co-chair of Reaccreditation Work Group (appointed position; 2014-15) Served alongside Mike Wallinga (Director of Institutional Research) and lead a team of colleagues in making the case/preparing the report in advance of Northwestern’s decennial visit from the North Central Association’s Higher Learning Commission.

Faculty Representative to the Board (elected by peers; 2006-14) Not only attended both the fall and spring meetings of the full Board, but also sat as a Trustee on the executive committee, which met on a monthly basis in order to fulfill various fiduciary responsibilities.

Co-director Franken Servant Leadership Institute (appointed position; 2009-13) Shared joint-appointment with faculty colleague J. Feenstra (Associate Professor of Psychology); helped to launch a new initiative which will assist efforts on campus to develop effective student leaders.

Faculty President (elected by peers; 2008-11) Presided over faculty meetings and working in conjunction with the Dean’s Council to set the agenda for bi-monthly gatherings. Also served as an ombudsman of sorts.

American Political Science Association

Christians in Political Science

Teacher of the Year award recipient (2015-16)

Finalist (one of three nominees) for Teacher of the Year (2004-05)