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Department of

Political Science and International Relations

Virginia Lewis

Professor, Political Science and International Relations

Virginia Lewis, PhD, has been a faculty member at USD since 1980. She has been deeply involved in university governance, and has made student learning her mission. From directing the Oxford program for ten years and serving as faculty advisor to student groups, to teaching courses in her research areas,  Lewis sees the university as a student-centric community. She has been chair of the Department of Political Science and International Relations, chair of the College of Arts and Sciences Academic Assembly, and a member of the University Senate.


Ph.D.,  University of California, Santa Barbara; Political Science (1980)
M.A., University of California, Santa Barbara (1973)
Undergraduate degree, The American College of Switzerland (1971)

Scholarly and Creative Work

Lewis’ work has ranged widely during her career, and has been shaped by an interest in the theoretical and philosophical questions raised in  political life. She published her book, The Idea of Perfectibility, in 1985 with University Press of America.   Her scholarly papers, articles, and book reviews have been in the areas of Latin American studies, international human rights, Gandhi studies, and eighteenth century political philosophy. Her dissertation was in political theory.

Teaching Interests

Lewis has received awards for her teaching. She offers a two-semester course in the History of Political Thought which is required for all Political Science majors.  Currently, her other courses are Politics in Literature and American Political Development. In the past she has taught from Anarchist Thought to Latin American Politics.  Lewis also teaches International Human Rights at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. She has taught for the School of Peace Studies and in service learning on campus and has offered team-taught classes in humanities, in the Honors Program, and in cluster preceptorials.