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Past Winners of the Teacher of the Week

Edward Weisband


The Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) recognizes Edward Weisband, professor of Political Science, for dramatizing ideas, igniting intellectual curiosity, and demonstrating that it is never enough to be satisfied with depiction of what is, but, rather, to always pursue inquiry by underscoring the importance of asking why.

One starts to learn once one begins to teach, and Professor Weisband’s philosophy of teaching is designed to enable students to be on that path toward self-education, even within a learning environment that includes large-lecture classes.

Professor Weisband’s approach to student learning is reflected in evaluation exercises assigned to students that require them to develop capacities for critical thinking and conceptual insight. Students in his classes are required to write, write, write. They learn how to frame an analytical question and they come to understand that the quality of theoretical/analytical explanation is measured not so much by getting the “right” answers, but rather, by the richness of the questions raised. Getting the questions right obligates students to develop a capacity for analytical “arguments.” Such critical argumentation must avoid two Cartesian traps that students may often fall into: a totalized sense of objectivity based on a fraudulent notion of scientific facts, as if facts speak for themselves; or, conversely, a totalized sense of absolute subjectivity based on a false sense of “opinionation” in which all opinions are of equal value in ways similar to taste. Professor Weisband’s hope for students is that they understand that one must make one’s ideas one’s own by becoming invested in them and by defending them critically in the open contestations that make the intellectual and academic life so special.

Throughout his career, Professor Weisband has devoted primary attention to teaching and pedagogy, and is nationally recognized for contributions to distinguished teaching, especially of introductory subjects. In 1983, he was promoted to Distinguished Teaching Professor, a rank above full professor, by the State University of New York (SUNY). In 1987, the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) selected him as the Gold Medal Finalist in its National Professor of the Year competition. Professor Weisband also was named by CASE as the New York State Professor of the Year during the same year. In 1990, Professor Weisband inaugurated the Edward Singleton Diggs Endowed Chair at Virginia Tech. In 1992, he received the Philip and Sadie Sporn Award for Outstanding Teaching of Introductory Subjects and has also been cited twice by the Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honors Society as the outstanding professor of the year. Professor Weisband initiated the proposal to establish at Virginia Tech the Diggs Teaching Roundtable and Teaching Scholar Award, a program that has emerged as a form of major recognition of teaching excellence and as an important Virginia Tech faculty forum to explore pedagogical approaches and instructional methods.


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