Lois Harder is Professor of Political Science at the University of Alberta and Principal of the Peter Lougheed Leadership College, an initiative that is building a community of responsive and inclusive leaders.
Growing up in Canada, Lois immersed herself in the outdoors and literature - imagining herself as a lawyer, musician or professor. As an undergraduate student, she pursued both political science and music performance, ultimately completing her undergraduate degree in political science at the University of Alberta. She completed her PhD at York University in Toronto.
Following the submission of her Honours thesis in the late 1980s the world was experiencing a period of great transformation. Lois recalls the heady time as a ‘feminist awakening’ that compelled her to become actively involved in feminist politics.
This pivotal moment informed Lois’ career and research; becoming an expert in the fields of citizenship, national identity, inter-sectional subjectivity, feminist political economy, law and society. Lois finds these topics endlessly fascinating – loving the paradoxes that emerge through researching the fundamental question of ‘how do we live together?’
Throughout her career, Lois has successfully balanced her research interests with roles in University administration – holding positions of Associate Chair of Graduate Programs, Associate Dean of Research and Chair of the Department of Political Science.
In these roles Lois has led the transformation of the Political Science department’s approach to graduate assessment and launched a new, pan-University priority research area around the Intersections of Gender. In the process of establishing these initiatives, Lois showed her organisational creativity and skills in negotiation and stakeholder engagement.
Lois currently leads the Peter Lougheed Leadership College, a University wide initiative that catalyses leadership development through critical reflection, experiential learning, interdisciplinary collaboration and community engagement. Lois relishes the opportunity to work with students with the drive and passion to lead positive change in the world, and with University staff, faculty and community members committed to transformative leadership
In this new role, Lois is surrounded by great mentoring – but believes it’s a title one must earn. Lois’ approach is centred around coaching and guiding an individual, believing in the importance of being authentic, humble and a deeply curious listener.
In her own career Lois recognises the many trusted mentors who have guided her, including Distinguished University Professor Janine Brodie – citing her as a hugely successful scholar who is also grounded, humble and ‘the embodiment of how to be a human.’
Lois feels privileged to have a career where she has the opportunity to think fascinating thoughts and work with supremely creative and intelligent people to realise new ideas.
Away from University life, Lois loves nothing more than playing chamber music and enjoying Canada’s natural beauty kayaking and hiking – and don’t forget to ask Lois about her love of cooking!