Advo Spotlight: Political science prof does it all


“There hasn’t been a time that I did not want to be a professor,” said Dr. Margaret Sankey, political science professor. “I’ve always loved reading, writing and doing research.”

Dr. Margaret Sankey

Dr. Margaret Sankey

Sankey has been a professor at MSUM since 2002, but she did not originally start out in the political science department.

Holding her PhD in history, Sankey was asked by the University to develop classes that were more military history orientated. She then began her career as a political science professor and has never looked back.

Many students may know Sankey from her survey class, POL 151 Contemporary Comparative Politics. Sankey describes the class as “a chance to go through all the crazy things humans have done. I never run out of interesting material.” She also mentioned that her survey classes are her favorite to teach because of the large scope covered in the class.

Sankey also teaches POL 317 Strategic Games and Game Theory. This is a class where students are assigned certain roles of past figures in history and must act out that role with classmates. “I am always interested to see how the games classes turn out,” Sankey said. “Students change the French Revolution in ways I’d never guess.”

When asked what her favorite part about MSUM is, Sankey said, “The students are exciting to work with.” She added that she enjoys working with people who are still discovering the world. She also said she really likes the community and local environment Moorhead offers.

Sankey also appreciates the size of the university. “It’s comfortable, not big,” she explained. “I like working with students who are attracted to a school this size.”

Though Sankey doesn’t recall ever wanting to do anything but be a professor, she admitted she never saw herself ending up in Minnesota. “I’m not from this area at all,” she said.

She started out in Iowa at Boise State University for her undergraduate studies. “I started college when I was 15,” Sankey said. “I lived at home in Emmett, Idaho, and Boise State was close enough that I could commute.”

From there she traveled to the deep South to attend Auburn University in Alabama. “I chose Auburn because it had a professor I wanted to work under as a graduate student,” Sankey explained. “They were really generous with their teaching assistantship offer.”

Sankey said she is “not a big sports person,” but she did enjoy going to tailgate parties before games at both colleges. She said tailgate parties at Auburn were “epic.”

Similar to her past universities’ football prestige, Sankey compared being hired as a professor to a football draft. “This was where the job was,” she said. “I would have never guessed I’d end up in Minnesota, but I’m glad I did.”

Despite coming from an area where summers are scorching, Sankey said she enjoys the cold Moorhead winters.

When she is not teaching classes or holding office hours at MSUM, Sankey spends her free time doing what she loves. “I like to travel,” she said. “I’m a big reader, too.”

Sankey makes a trip every couple years to Edinburgh or London, and does research in Great Britain. Last summer she gave lectures in Israel about foreign policy and military history.

“I got to see a lot of fascinating stuff there,” Sankey said. “Ancient ruins and modern high tech businesses, all in a very small space.”

As for reading, Sankey has an impressive routine she hasn’t broken since she was a teenager: Every day she reads a 300 page (or so) novel. “I enjoy most popular science, history, military history, politics, and I am a total sucker for European detective series,” she explained. “Especially if I can get them in the original languages and read them for pleasure and language practice.”

Outside of that, she says she can be found wrestling with her unruly dog, Gustav, “the one-eyed pirate dog.”

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