Q&A with Victoria Gorham

Amber Ewing

April 11, 2024

"Millsaps was a transformative institution for me. I always knew I wanted to teach at a liberal arts college like it when I finished graduate school."

Dr. Victoria Gorham ’12 found her college experience at Millsaps so transformative she decided to return after obtaining her Ph.D. Now, she is an assistant professor and chair of the government and politics department.

She sat down with us to share what inspires her and why she loves teaching at Millsaps.



What do you teach at Millsaps?

I’m the chair of the government and politics department. I primarily teach courses focused on international relations and global politics.

Some of my favorite electives to teach are courses on authoritarianism, African politics, American foreign policy and the political economy of global poverty.

Where are you from?

Shreveport, Louisiana

Where did you attend college?

I attended Millsaps College for my Bachelor of Arts in political science. After graduating from Millsaps, I attended the University of Florida for my master’s and Ph.D. in political science, in 2015 and 2019, respectively.

What was it that made you return to Millsaps to teach?

Millsaps was a transformative institution for me. I always knew I wanted to teach at a liberal arts college like it when I finished graduate school.

A job opened up in the government and politics department at Millsaps as I was finishing my dissertation. It seemed like a wonderful opportunity to take my academic career full circle and provide the same quality of liberal arts education so many faculty did for me when I was an undergrad.

What do you love about the subject you teach?

Political science is an incredibly important discipline. It has so much to say about how we can work to design policies that improve the human condition.

If we study democratic breakdown, implicit within those pieces of scholarship are implications for what we might do to make democracies in the future more successful. As social scientists, we get to try to solve complicated puzzles that can have real impacts on everyday people, which is exciting and important.

Politics are so fast-paced and open-ended. As a discipline, it’s always changing and growing. There are always new questions to ask and new answers to find.

What do you love about teaching at Millsaps?

The students that we get to work with are what makes Millsaps what it is. I have a lot of fun in class because I get to be in a classroom with smart young people.

They are reading interesting literature and having big conversations about ideas and questions that have real-world significance. Our students are very ideologically diverse and rigorous and collegial in their discourse. They aren’t afraid to challenge and be challenged, which makes my job really exciting.

Dr. Victoria Gorham of Millsaps College sits at her desk.
What inspires you?

My research collaborators and colleagues who speak up for their values and beliefs when it comes to democracy and social justice inspire me to keep asking difficult and complicated political questions in my classroom.

Being able to travel and learn about other ideas and ways of seeing the world is also very inspirational for my own work and understanding of political and social issues.

Do you have any special projects you’re working on or plan to work on soon?

My research focuses on nationalism in Tanzania and Kenya, so I’m currently working on turning my dissertation project into a book.

A new project that I’m developing has to do with beliefs about democracy and the ways that children are taught about government in school. I’m working with a colleague in Tanzania to interview public school teachers to learn more about how they think about and carry out their role in socializing Tanzanian children into democratic citizens. I plan to do fieldwork in Dar es Salaam this summer and will have a student with me conducting her own original research.

What are you doing when you’re not teaching?

I read a lot, like to bake and cook and travel as often as I can!