Political Science Now

Meet New Council Member, Renée Bukovchik Van Vechten

Renée Bukovchik Van Vechten, University of Redlands

Renée Bukovchik Van Vechten is an associate professor of political science at the University of Redlands. She earned a B.A. in political science from the University of San Diego and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine. Van Vechten’s political science research examines legislative processes and behavior, including the impacts of political reforms such as term limits. Her work on state-level politics and policy is evident in her textbook, California Politics: A Primer, and she has a chapter in the APSA book, Civic Engagement in Political Science. Her scholarship on pedagogical practices has extended to research methods, online discussion forums, simulations, and internships. Van Vechten served as chair of the APSA Political Science Education organized member section from 2013–2015. She was the section’s program chair for the 2013 annual meeting, and has been a track moderator for the APSA Teaching and Learning Conference 2014–2016. Service to the association includes membership on awards committees and the Presidential Task Force on Technology (2015–2016), and helping to facilitate the transfer of sponsorship of the Journal of Political Science Education to APSA. Van Vechten is also active in the Western Political Science Association, having co-chaired a conference-within-a-conference on teaching and learning (2015, 2016). She has received several teaching awards, including the Rowman and Littlefield Award for Innovative Teaching in Political Science (via APSA) in 2008.

Statement of Views
Nationally and locally our discipline needs greater purchase on inclusiveness in its many forms, and if elected, I will work to make APSA relevant to more members of the profession. Building on APSA’s current efforts to achieve greater representation, we must establish more consistent two-way communication with political scientists in all types of institutions of higher education. As a council member who recognizes and values the central role of teaching and learning in our discipline, I would be committed to delivering resources that will enable faculty to research, teach, and mentor more effectively and efficiently. I strongly endorse the annual Teaching and Learning Conference.

Through APSA, we must also respond more nimbly to external pressures that take the form of systemic underfunding of political science programs, defunding of research, and the commodification of university degrees, trends that are mirrored in mounting public demands for cheaper ways of delivering more marketable degrees, the value of which is judged by post-graduation earnings reports. I believe APSA has a vital role to play in steering public policy through disseminating research findings to the public, preparing generations for civic engagement, advocating for better work-life conditions of faculty and future colleagues, and advancing methodological, theoretical, and pedagogical diversity among our ranks.