• Melissa Embser-Herbert

    M Sheridan Embser-Herbert

    Professor and Chair, Sociology and Women's Studies


    Dr. Embser-Herbert teaches courses that focus primarily on issues of inequality and social justice. She has led study abroad programs in Amsterdam and Rwanda and, in conjunction with a Winter term course, took students to do Katrina-relief work in Mississippi. Until 2010, her scholarship focused primarily on issues of gender and sexuality in the military. She is the author of two books, Camouflage Isn't Only for Combat: Gender, Sexuality, and Women in the Military and The U.S. Military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Policy: A Reference Handbookand several articles and book chapters. Recognized as an expert regarding the now repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," Dr. Embser-Herbert served as an expert witness in Log Cabin Republicans v. USA, a 2010 case in which the judge declared the law to be unconstitutional. She is currently working on a book chapter on transgender military service. Dr. Embser-Herbert also works in the area of wrongful convictions, to include working with an inmate in Ohio on his claim of wrongful conviction. Largely as a result of her work, he was paroled in April 2013 after 35 years of wrongful incarceration. 

    From 1999 to 2002, Dr. Embser-Herbert served as assistant dean of the College of Liberal Arts and from 2012-2013 she served as Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning. She has participated, as a fellow, in the Institute for Educational Leadership's Education Policy Fellowship Program and with the Humphrey Institute Policy Forum at the University of Minnesota. She has been a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Sociology and The Gregg Centre for the Study of War and Society at the University of New Brunswick in Canada and recently held the Endowed Chair in Criminology and Criminal Justice at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Dr. Embser-Herbert is also trained as a restorative justice facilitator, has volunteered with the Alternatives to Violence Project at the Dorchester Penitentiary in New Brunswick, Canada, and served as co-chair of the Community Action Group on Homelessness in Fredericton, New Brunswick. In 2012, in recognition of service and leadership reflective of Hamline University's core values of social justice, civic responsibility, and inclusion, Dr. Embser-Herbert was awarded the John Wesley Trustee Award for Faculty and Staff.


    Dr. Embser-Herbert is passionate about getting students out into the community to experience "sociology in action" and often requires her students to "get off campus" and learn more about the community of which Hamline is a part. In 2012, her First Year Seminar students produced, from research to filming to editing, a Public Service Announcement for the Minnesota Innocence Project.

    "I want my students, regardless of major, to learn that whether as professionals or parents or community members, understanding the world around them as does a sociologist will be an invaluable asset. For me it's less about 'book learning' and more about understanding how sociology allows us to make our world a better place." 

    - M Sheridan Embser-Herbert