Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
Political Science


Political Science 298. Experimental Courses

Policing and 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 – from local instances of protest policing to international police assistance – and analyze the nature of police violence. We will trace the historical origins and development of policing as an institution, and compare policing in democratic, authoritarian and hybrid polities. We will also survey various proposals for policing reform and better police-community relations.


Contemporary Conflicts in International Politics: Terrorism, Forced Migration, Ethnic Violence, and Capitalism

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. In this class, we will investigate 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.


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 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 politics.​


Might, Manipulation and Morals

Power is one of the most fundamental concepts in international politics, 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 behaviors and environments 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, how we can study it, and what methods and strategies international actors use (or could use) to resist it.