Dr. Vanessa Bouché is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Texas Christian University. Her research and teaching are at the intersection of public policy and political psychology, with a focus on policy diffusion, identity politics, gender and politics, and human trafficking. Dr. Bouché seeks to connect people and data to advance freedom using cross-disciplinary, cross-methodological approaches that move the needle on complex socio-political problems.
In 1999, Dr. Bouché read The Good News About Injustice by Gary Haugen, founder of the International Justice Mission. In 2003, she spent a summer interning at the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala where she witnessed minor sex trafficking first hand during a midnight “tour” with Casa Alianza of the worst zones of Guatemala City. In 2007, during her Ph.D. program, after having read almost every book published on human trafficking to date and recognizing the need for sound empirical research on the topic, she decided to use her newly-gained skills to investigate human trafficking from an empirical perspective. And that is what she has been doing for the last 10 years.
Except it has not been that direct. The study of human trafficking is about violence, greed, poverty, capitalism, public health, transnational organized crime, visa and immigration fraud, child abuse and neglect, misogyny, power, corruption, terrorism, money laundering, and discrimination based on gender, race, and ethnicity. In other words, the study of human trafficking is decidedly complex, and therefore requires a non-linear, non-siloed, and non-conventional approach.
The study of human trafficking is also dark and seemingly intractable. But Dr. Bouché has hope in the power of the collective human spirit to change the course of history, as it has many times before. Thus, she seeks to inspire people to live justly by awakening them to the thousand small choices they make every day so that, one day, all will be “free at last.”
Dr. Bouché has been a principal investigator on several federally-funded human trafficking projects from the Department of Justice and USAID totaling over $800,000. She has developed databases of human trafficking prosecutions in the U.S. and India, conducted public opinion research on human trafficking in the U.S., Moldova, and Albania, and designed and deployed trauma informed surveys with survivors of human trafficking in the U.S. and Honduras. She has been an invited speaker by dozens of organizations locally and globally, including the United States Consulates in Mumbai and Kolkata.
She serves on the Board of Directors for two North Texas anti-trafficking organizations, Arcadia and Traffick911, and she has consulted with a variety of other organizations on anti-trafficking research and programs. She is an active member of her multi-ethnic church, The Well, and together with her husband leads the youth group. She is passionate about dignity, equality, authenticity, travel, adventure, and yoga.