Lois Hecht Oppenheim, PhD

Lois Oppenheim

Lois Hecht Oppenheim

Co-Chair Political Science Department, Professor of Political Science


Phone: 310-476-9777

Ext: 519


University of Rochester, BA, Political Science and Distinction in Spanish
Washington University, St. Louis, MA, Ph.D., Political Science


Dr. Lois Hecht Oppenheim is a Professor of Political Science and Co-Chair of the Political Science Department at American Jewish University.  Specializing in Third World and Latin American Politics, she is an acknowledged expert on the politics of Chile.  Dr. Oppenheim was a Professor of Political Science at Whittier College from 1976 until coming to American Jewish University in 1991. 

Since she has been at American Jewish University, Dr. Oppenheim has written extensively on Chilean and Latin American politics, globalization dynamics and women in politics.

Dr. Oppenheim’s teaching interests are in the areas of: Globalization, Third World Political Literature and Film, Latin American Politics, US-Latin American Relations and Model United Nations, among others. Her research and teaching interests continue to evolve; most recently, she has focused on the economic and cultural effects of globalization, including their impact on food production and consumption, and has developed a course on the Politics of Food. She is also a practitioner of Traditional Asian medicine and teaches Asian Approaches to Health and Stress Reduction.


She is the author of several books, including Politics in Chile, which was chosen as an Outstanding Academic Book by Choice. Now in its third (2007) edition, the book has become a standard reference for students of Chilean politics. Another book, After Pinochet: The Chilean Road to Democracy and the Market, which was co-edited in 2006 with Dr. Silvia Borzutzky of Carnegie Mellon University, is about the political dynamics of the Chilean transition to civilian rule. Dr. Oppenheim also contributes the Chile country entry to the Encyclopedia Britannica Book of the Year, which she has done annually since 1999.

Additional Professional Accomplishments

Dr. Oppenheim’s PhD dissertation won the Hubert Herring Memorial Award for the Best Ph.D. Dissertation in Latin American Studies in 1980 from the Pacific Coast Council on Latin American Studies.  Among her honors and research grants, Dr. Oppenheim has been the recipient of two National Endowment for the Humanities awards, a Fulbright research grant, two John and Dora Haynes Research grants and a World Society research award. Other grants include a Fulbright Senior Lectureship to Chile, where she served as a Visiting Professor in the Sociology Department of the University of Chile and taught in their Master’s Program on the Sociology of Modernization, and as an Affiliate Research Scholar at the highly prestigious U.N. think tank, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, both based in Santiago, Chile.