What Class?

LSCJ 5513: Studies in Police Leadership

Why is it cool?

Studies in Police Leadership is a class that explores the dynamics of leadership within the law enforcement context. The students examine topics like the history and evolution of police administration, general leadership theories, management best practices, and contemporary issues confronting the profession, but the real “meat and potatoes” of this course is applied leadership. We look at case studies of actual challenges faced by contemporary police leaders, and students are given the opportunity to reflect on personal interpretations of leadership. 

Many classes in leadership are grounded in theoretical conceptualizations of leadership styles, traits, and behaviors. The problem with this is that the lessons never leave the page. There is nothing personal in it and leadership remains an academic exercise, soon left behind by the students. But the experience of leadership, the challenge and the reward, is highly personal. Leadership entails opening oneself, committing, accepting responsibility, becoming vulnerable, taking risks, and discovering our connections to others.   

Conducted as a graduate seminar, Studies in Police Leadership requires that students step out of the passive learner role and take on primary responsibility for defining, researching, and reflecting on what it means to be a leader in what can be a real crucible at times the world of policing. While the class studies contemporary concepts, theories, issues, and best practices, heavy emphasis is placed on personal relevance and self-refection. Toward that end, each student is asked to submit to a 360-evaluation from their peers that is analyzed and used to provide feedback to the student about their leadership style and how they are perceived by others. Students are also asked to keep weekly journals in which they reflect on their actual leadership challenges, both of the everyday and critical variety.  

“It is my hope that students will discover something about themselves in this class,” said current instructor Todd Wuestewald. “By studying the challenges and decisions faced by actual police leaders, as well as having the opportunity to reflect on their own leadership potential, students will walk away with a richer appreciation of the leader within. This is something that can pay dividends not just within the context of work, but in every facet of life – every day and every moment.”    

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