DR. LEE TREPANIER
MARCH MEMBER OF THE MONTH
Saginaw Valley State University
Department of Political Science
Member since 1993
WHY DID YOU BECOME A POLITICAL SCIENTIST?
I had two extraordinary teachers who introduced me to Political Science. The first was Larry Cooper who taught political science at my public high school. It was a year-long course where we studied the four traditional sub-fields of Political Science: American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Political Theory. Not only was he a charismatic teacher but a demanding one who incorporated the latest events with the enduring findings in the field. It was Mr. Cooper's high expectations, lucid presentations, and enthusiasm for the subject that made me realize the importance of politics and made me want to study it more.
The second teacher was James M. Rhodes, a Professor of Political Theory at Marquette University where I attended as an undergraduate student. Using the Socratic Method, Dr. Rhodes showed us how to think as a community by asking questions and eliciting answers that are justified on logic and textual evidence. I also was fortunate enough to study with Dr. Rhodes over the summer as a McNair scholar. It was during that summer that I seriously considered academia as a possible career path, a life that allowed you the autonomy to think, teach, and write about politics; partake in a community of scholars; and pass down your discipline’s knowledge to students.
WHY DID YOU JOIN APSA AND WHY DO YOU CONTINUE TO STAY INVOLVED?
I was a graduate student, I joined APSA simply for professional reasons: to see
the job listings, to interview with schools, and to network with other scholars
and publishers. Over the years, I manage to find the scholarly communities with
which I wanted to be involved – the Eric Voegelin Society and Politics,
Literature, and Film – and began to play leadership roles in these
organizations to support their presence in Political Science as well as out of
curiosity to learn how these organizations, and APSA generally, work. Now I
remain involved with APSA because of the professional friendships I have made
over the years as well as to see what the latest findings are in scholarship
WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING ASPECT OF BEING A POLITICAL SCIENTIST? HOW?
can we, both as professors and as a discipline, be relevant to the public is
one of the biggest challenges that Political Scientists confront. How can we
demonstrate our value to the public – whether in teaching, research, or service
– and become a relevant in public discourse, public policy, and politics
itself. This especially problematic for political theorists, like myself, who
perceive themselves (rightly or wrongly) as marginalized within their own
discipline. Political scientists need to figure out how to bridge the gap
between conducting their specialized research and providing public knowledge if
we want our profession to be publicly relevant.
IF YOU COULD GIVE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE TO SOMEONE IN THEIR GRADUATE/UNDERGRADUATE YEARS, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
yourself whether you truly want to pursue a career in academia, especially
given that less than half of Political Science positions offered now are
tenure-track. There are plenty of other professions that are equally, and
perhaps even more, fulfilling than the academy. If you do decide that an academic
career is for you, then consider whether you want to pursue a primary research
position or a teaching one. If it is the latter, as is my case, then prepare
yourself to teach a variety of courses in your career, even courses that are
outside of your sub-fields.
OUTSIDE OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, TELL US SOMETHING INTERESTING ABOUT YOURSELF.
growing up in Wisconsin, I like beer, cheese, and, of course, the Green Bay
Packers – the only publicly owned, not-for-profit, major professional team in
the United States and holds the most professional titles of any team in the