Luther College Chips

Melissa Martinez joins political science staff

Melissa Martinez specializes in Latin American politics and comparative policies.

Melissa Martinez specializes in Latin American politics and comparative policies.

Photo courtesy of Melissa Martinez

Photo courtesy of Melissa Martinez

Melissa Martinez specializes in Latin American politics and comparative policies.

Gillian Klein, Staff Writer

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Current graduate student at the University of North Texas Melissa Martinez will be a visiting professor of political science to teach during the 2018/19 academic year.

Martinez’s emphasis is in Latin American politics and comparative policies. She received a bachelor’s degree in international relations from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. Upon completing her bachelor’s, Martinez attended the University of North Texas where she received a master’s degree in political science. Currently, Martinez is completing her Ph.D. in political science at the University of North Texas. She plans to finish her doctorate degree before coming to Luther this fall.

According to Associate Professor of Political Science Carly Foster, Martinez brings a unique perspective to the diverse faculty in the department.

“Her area of expertise was most drawing to staff in the department,” Foster said. “She’s young, she’s enthusiastic, and hopefully she can teach some of the courses [Assistant Professor of Political Science Pedro] dos Santos has taught.”

The department began looking for a fill-in professor this past fall when dos Santos announced his retirement after the 2017-18 school year. Dos Santos taught courses in political science and international studies. His research focus has been primarily Latin America, specifically Brazilian politics.

One of dos Santos’s colleagues, Professor of Political Science Paul Gardner, will also retire this spring. Currently, no one is replacing Gardner’s position in the fall of 2018. According to Gardner, professors like Martinez are crucial for the department and the college at this time.

“President Carlson and the Dean gave the go-ahead to replace dos Santos with Martinez and this is important,” Gardner said. “Our department has had conversations with departments like philosophy and economics about sharing positions as the college moves forward in a very challenging enrollment environment.”

Foster is enthusiastic about other disciplines Martinez will bring to the department.

“She’s bringing an additional area of expertise in human rights,” Foster said. “We will continue educating students on politics outside the United States and our department needs the balance of domestic and internationally-balanced courses.”

Martinez is looking forward to joining the Luther community offers.

“I enjoyed completing my bachelor’s degree at a liberal arts institution,” Martinez said. “There is a close-knit community built in these sorts of campuses and I am excited to contribute as a faculty member.”

This fall, Martinez will teach Introduction to International Relations, Global Politics, Introduction to Comparative Policies, Human Rights, and Latin American Politics. She will also lead a J-term Paideia 450 class with Associate Professor of Social Work Susan Schmidt called Borders and Migration.

“The college and students, that’s what I most look forward to familiarizing myself with,” Martinez said. “I’m also aware of the music and arts activities this college has to offer. I am looking forward to going to a few performances.”

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