Political Science
Offered by the Political Science department.

The Department of Political Science at Wheaton College seeks to educate its students about the past, present, and future of political life in this country and around the world. In so doing, we aim to empower students to become informed citizens who are able to think critically and speak confidently about the pressing problems and possibilities facing us as political actors today.

Our faculty members, all of whom are committed teachers and scholars, lead wide-ranging and intellectually engaging courses about the ways politics, power, and government are experienced in their various social, historical, cultural, and institutional contexts.  These courses are not only designed to help students learn about issues ranging from public opinion, democracy and revolution, international relations, political development, and public policy; they also enable students to learn how to develop sound arguments, collect and present evidence, read carefully, and write critically.

The department prioritizes experiential learning through independent research, volunteerism, internships, advocacy, and study off-campus in a variety of national and international contexts. We encourage students to understand themselves as political agents in international contexts and to consider the global impact of political activity at the individual, local, national, and international level.

Ultimately, Political Science majors develop the knowledge, skills, and confidence they will need to think deeply, speak assertively, behave ethically, and act courageously in a political environment that desperately needs such thought, speech, and action.

The offerings of the Political Science major program are intended to reflect the diversity of topics and approaches that constitute contemporary political science and international relation studies. We also have learning goals for both programs, which inform pedagogical decisions at both the course and program levels.

The Class of 2021 and Beyond:
Major requirements

Political Science Major Worksheet – The Class of 2021 and Beyond

The major in political science consists of eleven courses, including TWO core courses (POLS 200 and POLS 401), SIX courses from the five area groupings, and THREE elective courses. At least three of the eleven courses must be at the 300 level or above. Majors should complete POLS 200 before their senior year and are encouraged to take MATH 141 for their math requirement. Any student may propose an individual major program for consideration by the department’s entire faculty. The department welcomes individual research on the part of its majors.

Core courses
POLS 200 An Introduction to Research Methods
POLS 401 Senior Seminar

One political theory
POLS 207 Classical Political Theory
POLS 227 Modern Political Theory
POLS 307 Freedom and Justice
POLS 337 Power and the State
POLS 347 Islamic Political Thought
POLS 357 Violence and Revolution
POLS 367 Politics and Religion

One International relations
POLS 109 Introduction to International Relations (Previously International Politics)
POLS 209 Chinese Foreign Policy
POLS 229 United States Foreign Policy
POLS 249 Russian Foreign Policy
POLS 259 Contemporary Conflicts in World Politics
POLS 269 Popular Culture and World Politics
POLS 298 Women in Politics
POLS 309 International Law and Organization
POLS 329 Guns, Money and Influence in World Politics
POLS 339 Theories of International Relations
POLS 379 International Security Policy
POLS 398 American Empire: Past, Present, and Future

One Comparative western societies
POLS 115 Introduction to Comparative Politics
POLS 215 Contemporary European Governments and Politics
POLS 245 Policing as Governance
POLS 255 Russian Politics
POLS 325 European Integration
POLS 335 National Identity in the Post-Soviet Space
POLS 398 Comparative Social Policy

One Comparative non-western
POLS 203 African Politics
POLS 223 Contemporary Chinese Politics
POLS 233 The Politics of Latin America
POLS 263 The Politics of the Middle East
POLS 323 Comparative Political Development
POLS 333 Popular Movements and Religious Sentiment in the Americas

Two American politics and/or public policy
POLS 101 Introduction to American Politics (Previously The American Political System)
POLS 198 Introduction to Public Policy
POLS 201 Contemporary Urban Politics
POLS 221 Congress and the Presidency
POLS 241 Political Parties
POLS 251 Mass Media and American Politics
POLS 271 African American Politics
POLS 291 Judicial Politics
POLS 298 Moot Court
POLS 311 Public Opinion and Elections
POLS 326 Political Psychology
POLS 341 Constitutional Law I: The Supreme Court and the Constitution
POLS 351 Constitutional Law II: Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
POLS 391 Environmental Politics in U.S.

Three additional Political Science courses

The Classes of 2018, 2019 and 2020:
Major Requirements

Political Science Major Worksheet – The Classes of 2018, 2019 and 2020

The major in political science consists of ten courses, including THREE core courses (POLS 101, POLS 200 and POLS 401), FIVE courses from the five area groupings, and TWO elective courses. At least three of the ten courses must be at the 300 level or above. Majors should complete POLS 200 before their senior year and are encouraged to take MATH 141 for their math requirement. Any student may propose an individual major program for consideration by the department’s entire faculty. The department welcomes individual research on the part of its majors.

Core courses
POLS 101 Introduction to American Politics (Previously The American Political System)
POLS 200 An Introduction to Research Methods
POLS 401 Senior Seminar

And one political theory
POLS 207 Classical Political Theory
POLS 227 Modern Political Theory
POLS 307 Freedom and Justice
POLS 327 Black Political Thought
POLS 337 Power and the State
POLS 347 Islamic Political Thought
POLS 357 Violence and Revolution
POLS 367 Politics and Religion

One International relations
POLS 109 Introduction to International Relations (Previously International Politics)
POLS 209 Chinese Foreign Policy
POLS 229 United States Foreign Policy
POLS 249 Russian Foreign Policy
POLS 259 Contemporary Conflicts in World Politics
POLS 269 Popular Culture and World Politics
POLS 273 Inter-American Relations
POLS 309 International Law and Organization
POLS 329 Guns, Money and Influence in World Politics
POLS 339 Theories of International Relations
POLS 379 International Security Policy
POLS 398 American Empire: Past, Present, and Future

One Comparative western societies
POLS 115 Introduction to Comparative Politics
POLS 215 Contemporary European Governments and Politics
POLS 245 Policing as Governance
POLS 255 Russian Politics
POLS 325 European Integration
POLS 335 National Identity in the Post-Soviet Space
POLS 398 Comparative Social Policy

One comparative non-western
POLS 203 African Politics
POLS 223 Contemporary Chinese Politics
POLS 233 The Politics of Latin America
POLS 263 The Politics of the Middle East
POLS 323 Comparative Political Development
POLS 333 Popular Movements and Religious Sentiment in the Americas

One American
POLS 198 Introduction to Public Policy
POLS 201 Contemporary Urban Politics
POLS 221 Congress and the Presidency
POLS 241 Political Parties
POLS 251 Mass Media and American Politics
POLS 271 African American Politics
POLS 291 Judicial Politics
POLS 298 Moot Court
POLS 311 Public Opinion and Elections
POLS 326 Political Psychology
POLS 331 Principles of Political Advertising
POLS 341 Constitutional Law I: The Supreme Court and the Constitution
POLS 351 Constitutional Law II: Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
POLS 381 Environmental Politics in U.S.

Two additional Political Science courses

Minor requirements

Political Science minor worksheet

It is possible for non-majors to have a minor concentration in either American politics or comparative politics/international relations. Each minor consists of a minimum of five courses in the appropriate area. The minor in American politics must include POLS 101 and at least one course in American politics at the 300 level. The minor in comparative/international politics must include POLS 109 or POLS 115 and at least one course in international or comparative politics at the 300 level.

Guidelines have been established by the economics, history, political science, sociology and anthropology departments for interdepartmental concentrations. The department offers a joint minor in Urban Studies with the sociology and anthropology departments.

  • Political Science

    POLS 098 – Experimental Course

    From time to time, departments design a new course to be offered either on a one-time basis or an experimental basis before deciding whether to make it a regular part of the curriculum. Refer to the course schedule for current listings.

  • Political Science

    POLS 099 – Independent Study

    An opportunity to do independent work in a particular area not included in the regular courses.

  • Political Science

    POLS 101 – Introduction to American Politics

    An introduction to American politics using a systems approach and covering aspects of political behavior along with institutional description and analysis of public policy. Open to freshmen, sophomores and juniors. (Previously The American Political System)

  • Political Science

    POLS 109 – Introduction to International Relations

    After a brief introduction to salient events in world politics since World War II, basic concepts in the analysis of international politics are considered. The course will analyze the various types of international actors (nations, international organizations, liberation movements, multinational corporations), their goals and how they seek to attain them, and will explore the determinants of international political behavior. (Previously International Politics)

  • Political Science

    POLS 115 – Introduction to Comparative Politics

    The comparative study of the political process in Western and non-Western societies. No political system will be studied in depth, though the course provides the concepts and tools for such study in the future.

  • Political Science

    POLS 198 – Experimental Course

    From time to time, departments design a new course to be offered either on a one-time basis or an experimental basis before deciding whether to make it a regular part of the curriculum. Refer to the course schedule for current listings.

  • Political Science

    POLS 199 – Independent Study

    An opportunity to do independent work in a particular area not included in the regular courses.

  • Political Science

    POLS 200 – An Introduction to Research Methods

    An introduction to the guiding principles of modern social science research, along with instruction in the actual use of research techniques, including surveys, statistical analysis of political data and data processing by computers.

  • Political Science

    POLS 201 – Contemporary Urban Politics

    Cities and their suburbs are fundamental in the functioning of modern societies. This course examines how cities in the United States are governed and the political, social, and economic challenges they face. In particular, we will examine: the ways in which local, state, and national governments interact, the role of non-governmental actors in local politics, and key urban policies in areas such as poverty, housing, employment, and inequality. Expect hands-on experience in the city.  

Lindsay Flynn.

  • Political Science

    POLS 203 – African Politics

    An introduction to African politics. The course will focus on major issues, including political change, institutions, processes, economic development, female roles, ethnicity and foreign policy.

  • Political Science

    POLS 207 – Classical Political Theory

    Ancient and medieval political philosophies harbor specific understandings of politics. For the ancients, political philosophy and political involvement in society entwine; they imply each other. According to the medieval political philosophy, God is overwhelmingly present in both spheres of nature and politics. One may justifiably argue that the post-Renaissance idea of politics breaks with the above notions of politics.

In this course, we will closely read and discuss some of the main texts of classical political thought while the above themes direct our investigation of the nature of politics. We will inquire into the ancient idea of citizenship, the relationship between moral values and political practices, and the relevance of theology for politics. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle are the main figures here. We also need to study Niccolo Machiavelli in order to see how, at the threshold of the Renaissance, the dramatic break from traditional concepts of politics takes place. This break has a constitutive part in the makeup of the modern world, the world in which we live with all its joys and disasters.

  • Political Science

    POLS 209 – Chinese Foreign Policy

    An introduction to the study of Chinese foreign policy. The course will focus on providing explanations for China’s foreign policy behavior as well as inquiring into the major issues that have shaped the development of the foreign policy of the People’s Republic of China.

  • Political Science

    POLS 211 – Congress and the Legislative Process

    An analysis of who gets elected to the House of Representatives and the Senate, how they get elected and what they do once in office. Topics covered include: elections, constituencies, party organizations, committees, rules and norms, interest groups, executive liaison, policy outcomes and the impact of reforms.

  • Political Science

    POLS 215 – Contemporary European Governments and Politics

    A comparative study of contemporary European political systems. Special attention given to the relationship of government structures and the policymaking process.

  • Political Science

    POLS 221 – Congress and the Presidency

    Observers of American politics frequently lament the unproductive relationship between contemporary presidents and the Congress. Yet, many of the framers of the U.S. Constitution believed conflict between the legislative and executive branches would lead to better government. In this course, we will examine the constitutional roots of Congress and the American Presidency. We will focus on the relationships between these two American political institutions primarily charged with enacting and refining public policy. Topics covered include the organization of the executive and legislative branches, the impact of elections on interbranch relationships, and the consequences of partisan polarization on contemporary policymaking.

  • Political Science

    POLS 227 – Modern Political Theory

    This course begins with reflection on modernity and examines a select number of modern political thinkers whose ideas have in part, and effectively, shaped the way we live our lives, understand the meanings, and, define the purposes of our social, political, and, economic involvements. The nature of modern politics, the autonomy, the sovereignty, and also, the alienation of the Enlightened individual, also the ideal of democracy and its modern enemies are among concerns that lead the path of our inquiry. Throughout this course we read Emmanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill on Enlightenment, Utilitarianism and Individualism. Also Thomas Hobbes tells us about the “scientific” amorality of Modern/Realist Politics and underlines the centrality of power to it. Likewise, Carl Schmitt articulates the concept of sovereignty (we will see the service that his articulation offers to both Fascism and Conservatism) and “presents” the structure of the Modern/Realist Politics. Karl Marx discloses the secret, and the danger, of the Capitalist mode of social life and Hannah Arendt investigates the existence, or rather the absence, of conditions necessary to humane life in Modern time.

  • Political Science

    POLS 229 – United States Foreign Policy

    An examination of the goals of American foreign policy and of the making and implementing of policy to attain those goals.

  • Political Science

    POLS 231 – The American Presidency

    Development and problems of presidential leadership in an era of crises. Includes both a historical analysis of the development of presidential powers and the application of those powers in contemporary American politics.

  • Political Science

    POLS 233 – The Politics of Latin America

    An introduction to the dynamics of politics in Latin America. Themes include political economy, military authoritarian intervention, transitions to democracy, social movements and the U.S. role in the area. Countries used as examples include Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, El Salvador and Chile.

  • Political Science

    POLS 241 – Political Parties

    In this course, we will define political parties and study the formation of the American two party system. We will consider the role of partisanship among ordinary people, the way parties are important in recruiting future leaders, and how parties help elected lawmakers accomplish their various goals. By the end of the semester, students will have a deeper understanding about the necessity of parties through exposure to theory, history, and analysis of contemporary politics.

  • Political Science

    POLS 245 – Policing as Governance

    This course explores the role of the police in politics, with a particular focus on the function of policing in democracies. The democratic police ideal holds that officers “protect and serve” all members of their communities equally, that they are neutral actors without their own political interests. Press accounts of police shootings, as well as the policing of protests in the aftermath of these, have led growing numbers of citizens to question these assumptions. In this course, we will engage in a critical examination of “police power” in a wide range of contexts and analyze the nature of police violence.

  • Political Science

    POLS 249 – Russian Foreign Policy

    A study of contemporary Russian foreign policy behavior with an emphasis on Russia’s struggle to define a foreign policy strategy in a post-communist world. Particular attention will be paid to Russia’s relations with the United States and the emergent states of the former Soviet Union.

  • Political Science

    POLS 251 – Mass Media and American Politics

    This is a course about the relationship between the mass media and American politics. In recent years, the term mass media has expanded from newspapers and televisions to include the internet and social media. This transition has caused considerable upheaval in the traditional financial model of the news industry, and affected both the substance of political news and the way content is delivered to readers. In the course, we will study how the media covers politics, confronting questions about bias, fairness, and the ethics of political reporting. We will also examine how political leaders use media to achieve their own objectives.

  • Political Science

    POLS 255 – Russian Politics

    An investigation of Russian politics since the demise of the Soviet Union. Particular attention will be given to the status of Russia’s efforts at democratization, the success of its economic reforms, and issues of political identity and nationalism.

  • Political Science

    POLS 259 – Contemporary Conflicts in World Politics

    During the 20th century, international conflicts were usually well-defined: one country went to war against another, primarily to gain and hold territory. Today, such conflicts are increasingly uncommon. In their place have emerged complex forms of violence and unrest, which tend to hold little regard for national borders and whose ultimate aims are often difficult to discern. This class investigates the most pressing of these contemporary conflicts – including terrorism, migration, ethnic violence, and economic protests – in order to understand why they developed, where they might be headed, and how the international community might best respond to them.

  • Political Science

    POLS 263 – The Politics of the Middle East

    An introduction course in contemporary Middle East politics focusing on the internal dynamics of Middle East societies, the political relations among states in the region and the involvement of the superpowers in Middle East affairs.

  • Political Science

    POLS 269 – Popular Culture and World Politics

    Popular culture is more than just a staple of American life. It is a global phenomenon that distributes a vast array of norms, values, identities, beliefs, and other eminently political issues to billions, on a daily basis. Traditionally, however, political science has not given popular culture much thought. This class challenges that attitude. In introducing students to theories of case studies on the global political significance of popular culture – which will engage issues ranging from capitalism, to world war, to terrorism – this course seeks to understand the vitally important role popular culture plays in constructing and ordering our political world.

  • Political Science

    POLS 271 – African American Politics

    The relationship between African Americans and the American political system since moving from protest to politics in their quest for freedom is the course’s central theme. Examined are the changing role of civil rights organizations and the related successes of varied strategies for political empowerment on this quest for freedom.

  • Political Science

    POLS 291 – Judicial Politics

    Focuses on judicial politics in the United States as reflected in the criminal law process. The course is organized in terms of points of discretion where political decisions are made: the police and arrest, treatment of the accused, bail, plea bargaining, conspiracy law, contempt, sentencing and prisons.

  • Political Science

    POLS 298 – Experimental Course

    From time to time, departments design a new course to be offered either on a one-time basis or an experimental basis before deciding whether to make it a regular part of the curriculum. Refer to the course schedule for current listings.

  • Political Science

    POLS 299 – Independent Study

    An opportunity to do independent work in a particular area not included in the regular courses.

  • Political Science

    POLS 307 – Freedom and Justice

    This course deliberates on the nature of justice and freedom and consults with a select number of classical and modern political thinkers accordingly. We begin with thinking about the significance of freedom and responsibility for our meaningful existence and see how freedom and responsibility should be reflected in the realm of political life. Liberty and liberalism, the negative vs. positive understanding of freedom and the shortcomings of this understanding, a feminist view on modern faces of oppression and, finally, the relationship between freedom and development comprise other stages of our deliberation.

Next, we will move to the notion of justice and hear from sages like Plato, Aristotle and Kant about it. The subsequent topics are the distributive idea of justice, the ideal of global justice and the relevance of justice for justifying modern wars. We will also see another interpretation of justice as respect for the total otherness of “the other.” Following this interpretation we will find a subtle and innovative characterization of justice as the impossible/gift.

  • Political Science

    POLS 309 – International Law and Organization

    A study of the role of international law and organizations in international relations. Attention given to the legal relations of states through analysis of cases and documents. Some emphasis given to the United Nations.

  • Political Science

    POLS 311 – Public Opinion and Elections

    This course will examine the nature and role of public opinion in American democracy, providing a broad-based introduction to the dynamics of citizens’ social and political attitudes in the contemporary United States. What is public opinion? Where does it come from? How does it change? Why does it matter? We will attempt to answer these questions by drawing on scientific studies from political science and social psychology and by conducting original research. The goal of this course is to help students arrive at a more comprehensive understanding of the forces that shape the beliefs, attitudes, and opinions of the American public, the means by which those views are publicly expressed, and the influence of those opinions on policy outcomes.

  • Political Science

    POLS 321 – Public Administration and Public Policy

    An analysis of theories of administrative behavior and current policy problems. The last half of the course is an administration “game” based on the budget of the National Park Service.

  • Political Science

    POLS 323 – Comparative Political Development

    A broadly comparative survey of the political economy of less-developed countries, diversities and similarities across Asia, Africa and Latin America.

  • Political Science

    POLS 325 – European Integration

    A study of various attempts to unify Western Europe, including the European Union and NATO; the implications of the establishment of a common market in Western Europe in 1992; and the impact of changes in Eastern Europe on European integration.

  • Political Science

    POLS 326 – Political Psychology

    See Psy 326 for course description.

  • Political Science

    POLS 327 – Black Political Thought

    An introduction to African American political and social ideas. Through critical examination of major expressions of that discourse, we hope to arrive at some understanding of the principles, goals and strategies developed by African American women and men. Focus is on major philosophical, theoretical and ideological formulations put forward during the 19th and 20th centuries. In light of the historic and contemporary problems associated with race, class and gender oppression, we will probe the manner in which these structures of domination and exploitation have differentially and similarly impacted the lives of black women and men.

  • Political Science

    POLS 329 – Guns, Money and Influence in World Politics

    Power is one of the most fundamental concepts in International Relations, as well as one of the most troublesome. In introducing students to several understandings and definitions of power, this course suggests that power manifests itself not just in times of war and violent conflict, but in a variety of activities that often appear, at first glance, entirely peaceable and even cooperative. Through course readings, discussions, and assignments, students will explore the multifarious ways in which power is exercised in the international sphere, and what methods and strategies international actors use (or could use) to resist it.

    (Previously Might, Manipulation and Morality: Power in Internationals Relations)

  • Political Science

    POLS 331 – Principles of Political Advertising

    An intensive study of media in political campaigns, using video archive materials and student projects on media in gubernatorial and Senate campaigns.
(Previously Media and Politics).

  • Political Science

    POLS 333 – Popular Movements and Religious Sentiment in the Americas

    Religious sentiment and popular social movements in the Americas. A study of religious sentiment in the Western tradition and how different conceptions of divinity have influenced contemporary social movements. The course examines both defensive working-class movements (the Christian identity movement; white supremacists and citizen militias) and groups focused on popular empowerment (the civil rights movement; liberation theology and participatory action-research).

  • Political Science

    POLS 335 – National Identity in the Post-Soviet Space

    This course explores questions of nationalism and identity in the Post-Soviet context with specific reference to the efforts of states to construct a national identity and the impact of historical, social, ethnic and political–both domestic and external–factors on this process.

  • Political Science

    POLS 337 – Power and the State

    This course deliberates on the natures of Power and the State and consults with a select number of modern political thinkers accordingly. We begin with thinking about the philosophical and sociological meanings of power that include concepts such as authority, control, interest and influence. The contrast between power and violence, the democratic ideal of rationalizing the use of power through public communicative actions, a class-based definition of power, power as social privilege and finally, a feminist understanding of power signify our other steps in this study.

Subsequently, we will look into the makeup of the State as an embodiment of political power: inquiry into the absolutist, pluralist and constitutional forms of this embodiment follows our debate on the State’s power. We will also listen to the anarchists’ arguments against the State and learn about the interaction between the intelligentsia and the State. Lastly, the course ends with a narrative of the State’s collapse through revolution.

  • Political Science

    POLS 339 – Theories of International Relations

    The course surveys theories of international relations (e.g., realism, the causes of war, functionalism, decision-making analysis) with the underlying goal of providing students with a framework–or frameworks–with which to analyze and critique behavior in the international arena.

  • Political Science

    POLS 341 – Constitutional Law I: The Supreme Court and the Constitution

    A study of the politics of the U.S. Supreme Court and the Constitution, with analyses and debates on major Supreme Court decisions on the powers of the president, Congress and the courts, the proper role of national and state governments in a federal system, and the guarantee of a republican form of government.

  • Political Science

    POLS 347 – Islamic Political Thought

    This course investigates the origins and metamorphoses of a host of ideas and intellectual tendencies that is commonly referred to as Islamic Political Thought. The recent worldwide resurgence of political Islam and its growing importance in international and domestic affairs make an examination of this intellectual genre a timely study. After all, contemporary Islamic intellectual currents both refer to and rely on past and present political philosophies and, in so doing, remind us that without a deep understanding of these philosophies we will not be able to fully understand the nuances of many contemporary events.

    In this course, we will examine the fact that profound disagreement existed among early and medieval Islamic thinkers over major political concepts. While a number of Muslim intellectuals strive to accommodate Western modernity and the Islamic way of life, others reject modernity altogether and embrace various forms of Islamic Fundamentalism.

 Throughout this course we will address this intellectual and sociopolitical reality and specifically underline a branch of contemporary Islamic thought that seeks to reconcile modernity and Islam. No doubt, the path towards such a reconciliation cuts through issues such as the relationship between Islam and human rights, gender equality, tolerance, democracy and liberalism, which we will discuss in class.

  • Political Science

    POLS 351 – Constitutional Law II: Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

    A study of U.S. Supreme Court decisions, with analyses and debates on affirmative action, equal protection, abortion rights, freedom of speech and religion, government searches and seizures, privacy, private property rights, capital punishment, the right to die and related issues.

  • Political Science

    POLS 357 – Violence and Revolution

    A quick look at history proves that mankind is a violent creature. Is man so by nature? Or, rather, there are specific and recurrent modes of interaction – e.g. war, colonialism, oppression, occupation, humiliation – that make violent men out of the engaged actors? How do the enemy – that is, the target of violence – and the wounded – that is, the victim of violence – emerge within these modes of interaction? How should we characterize violence in the first place? Is non-violence really an option, especially when the enemy is ruthless? What about the State? Is it really the case that the State exists to harness men’s violence against one another? What if the State is indeed one of the very sources of violence? Then, shouldn’t we revolt (violently?!) against the State? What are the causes of revolutions? What is the part of ideas and ideals (besides material causes) in the makeup of revolutions? How did past revolutions take place? Throughout the course of the semester we will ponder upon the above questions and seek appropriate, though tentative and incomplete, answers to them. After all, to resist violence or to apply it and, to revolt or not revolt, one is better to know what violence and revolution really look like!

  • Political Science

    POLS 367 – Politics and Religion

    In liberal democratic societies the state stays neutral to the citizens’ religious orientations. Accordingly, the law is legislated under the condition of separation between church and state. Thomas Jefferson’s Wall of Separation Letter (Jan.1.1802) articulates this point. Religions’ recent resurgence at the global level and in the public sphere, however, poses a threat to the separation clause. How so? Why? And, at what cost for democracy? In order to address these concerns, this course investigates a variety of ideas on the makeup of religion, the nature of politics, and the appropriate pattern of interaction between the two. The path towards such investigation cuts through issues such as the relationship between reason and religion; political theology; the sacred and its political role; tolerance; religious fundamentalism; and political secularism.

As a study in the field of normative political theory, Politics and Religion has a theoretical content which is not specific to a special region or a particular historical phase. Accordingly, its theoretical analyses go beyond the boundaries of a particular nation, and, in that sense, acquire a “transnational” character. The scholars and texts we discuss in this course range from Plato and Socrates of the ancient time to the 20th century German philosophers like Jürgen Habermas and Carl Schmitt; and, from the present-day Islamic thinkers to contemporary American philosophers such as John Rawls, Robert Bella and Richard Rorty. In other words, the theoretical nature of the course transcends historical or geographical scopes.

  • Political Science

    POLS 379 – International Security Policy

    Focuses on a selected number of issues in the study of international security as well as some of the current debates about security and the use of force. Topics covered include nuclear proliferation, violence and ethnic conflict, terrorism and counterterrorism, environmental security, insurgency and counterinsurgency, and transnational security issues.
 (Previously National Security Policy)

  • Political Science

    POLS 381 – Environmental Politics in the United States

    Few contemporary policy issues are as polarizing as the environment, but environmental issues were not always the flashpoint of controversy that they are today. In this course, we will trace the evolution of the consensual environmental politics of the 1960s into the contested politics of energy development and climate change in the current era. Special attention will be devoted to the role of science, ideology, and American political institutions in formulating environmental policy. Topics covered include air and water pollution, biodiversity, environmental justice, and energy policy.

  • Political Science

    POLS 398 – Experimental Course

    From time to time, departments design a new course to be offered either on a one-time basis or an experimental basis before deciding whether to make it a regular part of the curriculum. Refer to the course schedule for current listings.

  • Political Science

    POLS 399 – Independent Study

    An opportunity to do independent work in a particular area not included in the regular courses.

  • Political Science

    POLS 401 – Seminar

    Section B01: The State of the Nation: An Assessment of Governance in Trump’s America:In his successful run for the presidency in 2016, Donald Trump famously criticized the state of the nation by claiming “we don’t win anymore.” Many other observers of American politics–both supporters and critics of Trump–have also offered criticisms of American politics and culture. Concerns range from grim assessments of leaders’ and citizens’ commitment to democratic norms; partisan polarization and growing distrust between the public and its leaders; continuing economic and political inequalities across race and gender; legislative gridlock and the inability of the political system to address problems like inequality, climate change, and mounting federal debt, and other concerns. In this seminar, we will explore different thinkers’ criticisms of American governance, assessing whether the state of the nation is as dire as critics claim. Brad Bishop.

    Section B02: With Wealth Comes Responsibility? Politics and Inequality in the Rich World:Identifying and addressing inequality is perhaps one of the biggest challenges facing modern society. Building on foundational information from prior political science courses, this course examines the political, economic, and social arenas that both temper and reinforce inequalities in income and wealth across different groups of people (e.g. generations, genders, and racial and ethnic groups) living within the rich OECD. We will examine how groups with unequal power drive both governmental decisions and policy tools, and the ways in which that affects the benefits of citizenship. In the abstract, citizenship promotes equality. In practice, people experience the benefits of citizenship unevenly. Using the topic of inequality, this capstone course provides you the opportunity to reflect on the ways in which the Wheaton BA and the Political Science major prepare you to be creative and critical thinkers, strong communicators, and confident collaborators. Lindsay B. Flynn.

  • Political Science

    POLS 499 – Independent Research

    Offered to selected majors at the invitation of the department.

  • Political Science

    POLS 500 – Individual Research

    Selected majors are invited by the department to pursue individual research in preparation for writing an Honors Thesis.

Bradford Bishop

Assistant Professor of Political Science

Nick Dorzweiler

Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science and Women's and Gender Studies

Lindsay Flynn

Assistant Professor of Political Science

Gerard Huiskamp

Professor of Political Science

Alireza Shomali

Associate Professor of Political Science, Jane E. Ruby Chair in Humanities and Social Sciences

Jenna E. L. Wechsler

Assistant Professor of Political Science

Aubrey Westfall

Assistant Professor of Political Science; International Relations Coordinator

Jeanne Wilson

Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of Russian Studies; Chair, Political Science Department