Research & Fieldwork

Professor Bergerson and student

At Whittier College, our student body works in close, active collaboration with professors who are leaders in their fields. Together, this team of learners conducts research projects that push the boundaries of knowledge and inquiry.

For example, select students support faculty members with their professional academic investigations. At other times, it is the faculty which assists the efforts of students in pursuing groundbreaking new research. As a result of these experiences, and with confidence in their own abilities, Whittier students regularly go on to participate in conferences (such as the Southern California Conference on Undergraduate Research) and other academic conclaves across the nation.

Students further interact with faculty members in programs that are part of the College’s Centers of Distinction and take place at Garrett and Hartley Faculty Masters Houses, on-campus residences where professors live for a multi-year term and coordinate and host an array of educational and social activities.

While students at large universities struggle merely to gain face-time with professors, here at Whittier, students interact with the faculty personally and on a daily basis.

In the Political Science Department specifically, students have been involved in a number of projects.  One major, who went on to her MA from the London School of Economics, assisted Professor Joyce Kaufman in the preparation of a text book on international relations.  Every year students in Professor Bergerson’s seminar or classes on Federalism engage in a group project that have resulted in recommendations to government officials.  Several students in Professor Mike McBride’s Model United Nations program assist in the preparation of several documents for the annual MUN session including papers that are included in the annual Issues Book written for 500+ participants in the conference.

Students also have the opportunity to participate in off-campus visits or on-campus simulation exercises.  Professor Norden has taken classes to South America.  Professor Bergerson’s January class on warfare makes an annual visit to Fort Irwin and the National Training Center (NTC) located in California’s Mojave Desert.  Professor Neu’s January class on Law and the Courts makes visits to law libraries, and the offices of judges, lawyers, and others active in the legal profession.  Professor Kaufman’s class on American Foreign Policy runs the International Organizations Project, a simulation that involves local high schools.  Professor Bergerson’s Introduction to Political Science class participates in a Simulated Society game that has students address fundamental issues faced by political decision-makers at the local and national levels, and dozens of students represent various countries each year in the five-day Model United Nations conference held each April near San Francisco led by Professor McBride.

Academics in Action

Nixon Fellows

A Moment That Would Mark History: Nixon Fellows Visit the Nation's Capitol for the Inauguration of Barack Obama
Standing shoulder to shoulder from 3:30 a.m. until noon in freezing temperatures, Richard M. Nixon Fellows Daniel Jacob Kulick ’13 and Carlee Shults ’14 patiently awaited the a moment that would mark American history. That moment: the 2013 Presidential Inauguration of Barack Obama. Read more.


SimulationReality in Simulation: Military Training Center Provides Backdrop for "Warfare" Class
On a cold Thursday morning, political science professor Fred Bergerson boarded a charter bus with 17 of his students and headed to Fort Irwin and the National Training Center (NTC) located in California's Mojave Desert. This fieldtrip to one of the major training areas for the United States army is part of Bergerson's Jan Term course, "Warfare: In Pursuit of Military Security." Read more.