California Politics: A Primer Fifth Edition by Renée B. Van Vechten (Author)


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The thoroughly revised Fifth Edition of California Politics: A Primer concisely explains how California’s history, political culture, rules, and institutions come together to shape politics today and how they will determine the state of affairs tomorrow. Author Renee B. Van Vechten begins with a brief political history of California, then walks through direct democracy, the legislature, executive branch, and court system. She covers local government and concludes with a discussion of the state’s budget process, campaigns and elections, political engagement, and policy issues. From the structure of the state′s government to its local representatives, policies, and voter participation, California Politics: A Primer delivers the concepts and details students need.New to the Fifth EditionAn emphasis on California’s place in the federal system provides you with context around the state leadership′s resistance to Trump administration policies on things like California’s sanctuary state status, immigration, the environment, and more.Increased coverage of policy topics throughout the book helps you see how recent policy has impacted issues such as greenhouse gas emissions regulations, attempted “fixes” for water- and drought-related issues, new transportation projects, and prison reform.  Extended discussions of elections-related innovations introduce you to recent elections-related topics such as the Top-Two Primary, efforts to increase voter registration, all vote-by-mail elections, and redistricting.New coverage of the “Five Californias” gives you a better understanding of California’s political geography and how distinct segments of the population are primed for political engagement or disaffection.New lists of key terms with clear definitions at the end of each chapter enable you to review the content more effectively.  New and updated maps and graphics depict important topics such as California’s newly proposed high-speed rail project. Read more

Review “A thorough yet concise overview of California institutions, politics, and initiative process, grounded in an overview of California’s political culture.” — Ronnee Schreiber”Van Vechten renders the material approachable. Her writing style has a narrative flow, but the language is not simplistic. The clear visuals assist students in honing their abilities to comprehend non-narrative information.” — Maria Sampanis”California Politics provides students with the nuts and bolts necessary to understand what goes on in Sacramento, while also giving them the tools they need to delve deeper into the process if they desire.” — David Fisk About the Author Renée B. Van Vechten holds the Fletcher Jones Endowed Chair in American Politics and Policy at the University of Redlands where she is a professor of political science and chair of the public policy undergraduate program. She earned a BA in political science from the University of San Diego and a PhD 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. In addition to teaching about California politics, her courses concentrate on American institutions such as Congress, as well as the politics of food, the environment, and political reform. Her expertise on state-level politics and policy is evident in her textbook, California Politics: A Primer, and her scholarship on pedagogy and instructional practices has extended to curricular planning, research methods, online discussion forums, simulations, and internships. She was the lead editor of and contributor to the open-source book and resource collection, Political Science Internships: Towards Best Practices (APSA 2021: Van Vechten has served as an executive board member for Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honors society, and on the American Political Science Association (APSA) Council and Executive Board as chair of the Teaching and Learning Policy Committee and as chair of the APSA Political Science Education organized member section. She has been a track moderator for the APSA Teaching and Learning Conference (TLC) several times, and was a founding co-chair for the first TLC at APSA in 2018. Service to APSA includes membership on awards committees, working groups, and two Presidential Task Forces (on Technology, 2015–2016; on New Partnerships, 2017–2020) that helped establish APSA’s online teaching library, EDUCATE. Van Vechten is also active in the Western Political Science Association, having several times co-chaired a conference-within-a-conference on teaching and learning. She has received several teaching awards, including the Rowman and Littlefield Award for Innovative Teaching in Political Science (via APSA) in 2008, APSA’s only national teaching award at that time. A resident of San Diego County, she is frequently consulted by local media for commentary about state and national politics.

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