The American Political Science Association (APSA) has named the Center’s director, Bruce Cain, its member of the month for June 2018. According to APSA, the honor “recognizes and highlights member achievements and professional milestones.”
For the occasion, Professor Cain answered a brief Q&A with the association’s website.
Why did you become a political scientist?
To be honest, I was and still am a political junkie, and liked the idea of getting paid to study what I was interested in. I probably could have made more money as trial attorney, but being a political scientist is just more interesting.
Why did you join APSA and why do you continue to stay involved?
One of the things I appreciate most about APSA is the annual meeting, as it is the one time I get to see many of my former students and advisees. I don’t spend all my time chatting in the hallways but enough to make the meeting more than just another conference with papers.
What is the most challenging aspect of being a political scientist? How?
Staying objective and being a citizen with personal political views at the same time. I have tried, though perhaps not always successfully, to be objective and analytical in my work and public commentary, but it is not easy—especially recently.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone in their graduate/undergraduate years, what would it be and why?
I would hope that more undergraduates enter public life in some capacity and try to improve their communities in some way. I would hope graduate students think of their craft as not just being about garnering awards and citations, but as a useful way of understanding and navigating politics at all levels. Political science can be useful if we just try to make it so.
Outside of political science, tell us something interesting about yourself.
My dad was a psychiatrist and my mother a psychiatric social worker. This has helped me understand and deal with my many co-authors over the years.