Faculty and Staff

Political Science Department Faculty 2012

Michael Engelhardt

Professor of Political Science

Education: Ph.D., M.A., University of Wisconsin-Madison; B.A., Hope College

Dr. Engelhardt teaches courses in American Foreign Policy, American Politics, Congress and the Presidency, Political Parties and Interest Groups, Crisis Decision-Making and Global Politics. His research interests have been in the areas of military intervention and nuclear nonproliferation and he has published several articles in these fields, as well as coauthoring a text in American Politics. He also coaches Luther's Mock Trial team and is faculty adviser to Luther College Republicans. 

During most January Terms, Dr. Engelhardt teaches a course entitled "It's a Conspiracy!?", which examines various political conspiracy theories using critical thinking. Students are required to write a research paper in which they critically analyze a theory not discussed in class. 

Learn more about Michael Engelhardt

Carly Foster

Associate Professor of Political Science

Education:  Ph.D. Political Science, University of Kansas; M.A. Political Science, University of Kansas; Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies, University of Kansas; B.A. Political Science, University of Kansas

Carly Hayden Foster is delighted to join the Luther Political Science department in 2015 after teaching at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Washington State University, and the University of Kansas. She and her family are grateful for the abundant outdoor recreation opportunities and beautiful scenery to be found in and around Decorah. Dr. Foster’s research and teaching interests center on gender and race as they relate to law, policy and politics. She has published work on gender and race in welfare policy, health policy, child welfare policy, and political organizations. She will be teaching courses on social policy, gender and politics, political thought, constitutional law, and race and immigration in U.S. politics. In January of 2016 she will be teaching a special topics course on “Gender, Politics, and the Iowa Caucus.” She looks forward to getting to know Luther students and the Luther community.

Heather Frey

Admin. Assist., Hist/Poli Sci, Soc/Anthro/Scl Wrk and Phil.

Heather Frey is the Administrative Assistant for the departments of Political Science, Sociology, Anthropology, Social Work, History, Africana Studies and Philosophy. She began working with these depts. in August 2011. Before moving to Koren, she spent 10 years working in the Admissions Office as an International Admissions Assistant. She supervises 5-7 student assistants each semester and enjoys getting to know all of them.  Heather looks forward to the challenges and opportunities each academic year brings.

Paul Gardner

Professor of Political Science

Education: Ph.D., Political Science, University of Kentucky; M.A., Political Science, Iowa State University; B.A., Sociology, St. Ambrose University

Paul Gardner has taught at Luther since 1985 and is currently the head of the department. He teaches courses in Global Politics, Politics and Religion, and Terrorism and Democracy. Throughout his career he has directed the Nottingham program, taken six groups to Northern Ireland, spent a sabbatical semester in Poland lecturing on American foreign policy, directed the International Studies program and taught in Luther’s Paideia I and Paideia II programs. Several years ago he developed a January term course for first year students on happiness, with the current variation titled “An Examined Life IS worth Living.”

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John Moeller

Professor of Political Science

Education: Ph.D., M.A., Political Science, Duke University; B.A., Lawrence University

John Moeller came to Luther College in 1981 after teaching at Texas Tech, Livingston University (Alabama) and Pan-American University (Texas). Moeller earned a B.A. from Lawrence University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from Duke University. He teaches courses in law (Constitutional Law, Introduction to Law, Civil Rights and Liberties), political theory (Political Thought, American Political Thought) and environmental politics. He has also taught a number of interdisciplinary courses (Caesars’ Coin, Moral Dilemmas in Literature, Social and Political Issues in Film and Fiction, Science and Politics of Global Warming). He is especially interested in making connections between political theory and political practice, and often combines social science writings with imaginative literature in his classes.

Moeller currently serves as chair of the Political Science Department and oversees Luther’s participation in the Lutheran College Washington Semester Consortium. In the past, he has also served as a director of the Environmental Studies Program. In 2006, he was appointed as director of the newly endowed Center for Ethics and Public Life for a five-year term. The goal of the Center is to place discussion of and concern for public issues at the heart of what Luther College students do. The Center develops this goal through a range of activities, including a public lecture series, residencies, reading and discussion groups, and summer programming for new students entering Luther.

Moeller’s research and writing has focused on the role of the Supreme Court in the American political system, political themes in the popular Western, the ideas of Alexander Bickel, and the jurisprudence of Justice John M. Harlan II.

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Pedro Dos Santos

Assistant Professor of Political Science

Education: Ph.D., Political Science, University of Kansas; M.A., Political Science, University of Kansas; B.A., Political Science and International Business, Baker University

Pedro dos Santos arrived at Luther in 2012 after earning a B.A. in International Business and Political Science from Baker University (2004); a M.A. in Political Science from the University of Kansas (2007); a Graduate Certificate in Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Kansas (2009); and a Ph.D. in Political Science (major in Comparative Politics and International Relations, minor in Latin American Development) from the University of Kansas (2012). He also spent one year as a Visiting Researcher at the Research Center and Graduate Program on the America at the University of Brasilia in Brazil (2010-2011).

Dr. dos Santos' research interests include gender and politics, politics and religion, Latin American politics, electoral systems and elections, and comparative foreign policy. He has published works on women's representation in Latin America and evangelical politics in Brazil. He has experience teaching American politics, global politics, Latin American Political and Economic development, global politics and film, international studies (interdisciplinary), comparative politics, and politics of the developing world.

Learn more about Pedro Dos Santos

James Rhodes


Education: M.A., English, University of Arkansas; B.A., University of Michigan

Jim Rhodes joined the Luther faculty in the fall of 1968 after completing graduate course work at the University of Michigan, completing the dissertation in 1973. He had earlier earned an M.A. in English from the University of Arkansas.

Rhodes has served as chair of Political Science and the Director of Luther’s International Studies program. He follows contemporary world affairs to update his academic and teaching fields of international relations (The Politics of War and Peace and International Relations) and comparative politics (Comparative Political Analysis, Politics of Africa, Asia, and Latin America). His main area of research started out in Latin American politics but has broadened over the years to be global. Rhodes regularly contributes reviews to CHOICE, the American Library Association’s publication for college and research libraries and that has lately included a large number of books on China. He believes scholarship belongs not just in libraries but in the public square to assist leaders and citizens in developing and judging public policies. Rhodes hopes students from his courses have gained a perspective that will enable them both to be aware of contemporary international events and to judge them critically.