A School of Business & Leadership (SBL) doctoral student is using his Regent University education to integrate faith with education. Stuart Platt, assistant professor of criminal justice at Abilene Christian University (ACU), set a goal to develop how he integrated his faith into his curriculum. After studying the topic, learning from his Regent professors, developing a strategy and implementing it in his classes, he earned recognition from ACU for his efforts and results.
“I didn’t know until I was seated there with my wife and I heard them call my name,” said Platt. “They read some of the prior recipients’ names, one of whom was a faculty member who had been there 40 years and was considered to be an icon. You don’t expect to hear your name, especially after only two years at the university, so I was completely surprised.”
ACU presented its Faith Integration Award to Platt at a spring banquet for its College of Arts & Sciences. While he was humbled to receive the recognition, Platt says the greatest reward is seeing the difference his approach to faith integration makes in the lives of his students.
“I was blessed by watching students integrate faith in some pretty creative ways. I really wasn’t expecting an award, and so it was an honor. It was an honor that my department chair nominated me. I knew I had put a lot of work into it, and God helped me accomplish faith integration. It was an affirmation that I was moving in the right direction with faith integration in the classroom.”
After years of service in law enforcement, Platt retired to become a professor, and after prayer and some advice from his son, Platt joined the ACU faculty in 2013. He teaches topics ranging from search and seizure to law enforcement leadership, to police systems.
“Most of my career had been in the criminal justice realm,” said Platt. “I just felt like that [becoming a professor] was perhaps a calling. Then one of my sons reminded me, ‘Dad, you made the comment repeatedly growing up that when you reached the point when you could retire you wanted to teach at a university and have an impact on students to pass on your experience. When are you going to do that? Why not now?'”
From day one, Platt sought to make a difference in the lives of his students by sharing his perspective as a Christian in law enforcement. He desired to discover the best way to communicate faith in the classroom. He saw other professors include devotions in class and teach lessons from Scripture, but he wanted to take integration to the next level.
“I felt like I needed to teach students to think critically and reason about God’s kingdom,” said Platt. “I tried integrating Old and New Testament passages into the syllabi. I took the book of Daniel and used it in a leadership class, and I found that the urgency to cover course material always seemed to dominate that agenda. I began to pray for some other means to approach faith integration, and I think when I began my Regent coursework in strategic leadership in the spring of 2014, it really opened my eyes to other ways and methods to how you could integrate faith.”
Platt says his experience as a student in Regent’s SBL doctoral program inspired him to innovate a different approach to faith integration. His professors created the expectation that he and other students would be touched by God’s spirit if they sought God while working through their coursework. He first learned about Regent when his son, Major Jonathan Platt earned his Master’s in Government from the Robertson School of Government. As he considered SBL, he said the dean’s emphasis on integrating faith set Regent apart.
Instead of supplementing faith with curriculum, Platt took a holistic approach, mixing faith with problem solving and critical thinking. He says police work puts Christians in a position to turn to their faith to make important, ethical decisions every day. He discussed this in class and included faith integration as part of the grading criteria for class projects to get students to actively participate and process their faith mentally.
“Police work is challenging ethically and morally,” said Platt. “It’s high stress, and so I think you really have to have a corner planted with your faith or you can be tested. That means, if I am going to equip my students to enter the world of policing, they need to have not only the biblical background, but they’ve got to know how to critically reason and apply it to their setting.”
Platt has held many positions in law enforcement including assistant U.S. attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, United States magistrate judge for the Western District of Texas, and inspector general for the Texas Department of Public Safety. He is also a retired colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve.