Arthur Svenson — 2019 Distinguished Teaching Award Recipient

The American Political Science Association (APSA) will present the Distinguished Teaching Award to Dr. Arthur Svenson at the 2019 APSA Annual Meeting & Exhibition, the world’s largest gathering of political scientists and source for emerging scholarship in the discipline. The $1,000 award signals the central role of teaching in the profession.

Dr. Art Svenson is David Boies Professor of Government at the University of Redlands, for thirty-eight years his academic home.  He received his B.A. from California State University, Fresno, and his Ph.D. from University of California, Santa Barbara where he was a student of C. Herman Pritchett.  Art teaches constitutional law with research interests focusing on legal issues surrounding end-of-life choices for terminally ill competent adults.  Dr. Svenson has received numerous teaching and research awards from students and faculty, and has enjoyed two Fulbright scholarships to teach constitutional law in the People’s Republic of China.  Art is a professional violinist with over fifty years of service in regional symphony orchestras.  He is a lifelong cyclist, and an enthusiastic traveler.  Art’s wife Nancy is a University of Redlands administrator and their daughter Elle is a high school sophomore.

Here is what the Award Committee had to say about their decision:

Nearly 60 current and former students wrote letters in enthusiastic support of Professor Svenson’s nomination, some of whom were his students more than 30 years ago.  These letters speak to Professor Svenson’s extraordinary level of dedication as a teacher and mentor, and to the transformative impact his teaching has had not only on his students’ professional trajectories, but also on each of them personally.  His courses are consistently described as “life-changing,” “inspirational,” and “transformational.”  As one student explains: “Dr. Svenson . . . genuinely believes [in], pushes, and encourages each student . . . to think critically, engage in difficult conversations, and approach political science with an interdisciplinary lens.  Because Dr. Svenson genuinely believes in each of his student’s capacity to be great, they are.  He has provided hundreds of students . . . with the analytical skills and knowledge to think deeply about how law and policy shape the world in which we live…[He] has continuously gone above and beyond what is required of him to ensure that his students are not only critically engaged with the material, but [also] asking questions that nobody else is asking.  I have never felt more inspired, intellectually stimulated, encouraged, and challenged by a professor. . . .”

In addition to this overwhelming support by current and former students, Professor Svenson was also enthusiastically endorsed by the Chair of his department, his fellow faculty members, his Dean, his Provost, and the President of the University of Redlands.  As his colleagues document: “To read through Art’s teaching evaluations is nothing short of humbling.  For as many years back as they are preserved in our Dean’s office, Art’s scores in every single category are virtually perfect . . . His pure devotion to his craft is inimitable.”  Also included in his nominating file were 45 pages of student evaluations, which provide overwhelming evidence of his outstanding contributions to teaching and student mentoring.  As the President of the University of Redlands comments: “Simply put, [Art Svenson] is a legend. . . Art does more than teach his students.  He helps them become the people of character they are destined to be.  And they never forget him. How many of us can say we made the greatest difference in the development and life of another human being?  Art has done that more than a thousand-fold in his 30-plus career at Redlands. . . When alumni return to my campus, there is one person they want to see.  And it’s Art.”

On behalf of the American Political Science Association, the 2019 Distinguished Teaching Award committee would like to congratulate and thank Professor Svenson for his nearly four decades of extraordinary dedication and service to his students and to our discipline.  His example of excellence in teaching and student mentoring is both inspiring and humbling.  It was an honor to read through his numerous achievements in undergraduate education over his long and impactful career.  We are honored and delighted to award Professor Svenson APSA’s 2019 Distinguished Teaching Award.

APSA could not reward achievement in political science without the generous donations we receive from members and friends. Your gift today will help APSA continue recognizing outstanding scholarship for years to come. To contribute to the Distinguished Teaching Award fund, please visit