Acclaimed political science professor earns legacy award from alma mater
July 22, 2021
For 54 years and counting, Professor Edward Weisband has captivated bright minds of today and tomorrow.
Students and colleagues have long extolled Weisband for his commitment to teaching.
He earned Virginia Tech’s Favorite Faculty Award as a member of the Department of Political Science. He received university-wide recognition as a lifetime member of the Academy of Teaching Excellence at Virginia Tech.
Since 1990, he’s served as the Edward S. Diggs Endowed Chair in the Social Sciences at Virginia Tech.
But long before he delivered his first lecture, Weisband sought guidance from another devoted educator.
Fresh off a master’s degree in international studies from Stanford University, Weisband enrolled in the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies to pursue a doctorate in international studies.
Weisband wanted to study with Professor Majid Khadduri, the preeminent scholar of Islamic law and institutions in the early ’60s. Khadduri encouraged Weisband’s interest in studying Turkish foreign policy and language to develop a firm understanding of the Ottoman Empire and Turkey’s transition to modern sovereign statehood.
“Professor Khadduri became my mentor, the chair of my dissertation committee and, after I graduated and until he passed, my dearly valued friend,” said Weisband.
Under Khadduri’s guidance, Weisband earned a U.S. National Defense Foreign Language Fellowship to conduct dissertation research in Turkey. He interviewed a former president of Turkey and a host of other diplomats and officials.
The experiences shaped Weisband’s understanding of how international relations reflect cultural values and traditions and, in turn, how such traditions help shape public policies.
“These are the perspectives that I have tried consistently to introduce into my courses and instructional pedagogy,” he said.
Weisband’s alma mater recognized his efforts in education with a prestigious honor.
The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies named Weisband the inaugural recipient of the 1943 Legacy Award.
The new recognition will be given annually to honor an individual who has demonstrated unparalleled service to the school through significant organizational involvement, professional achievement, and planned giving.
According to the award, the School of Advanced International Studies was delighted to acknowledge Weisband’s leadership and dedication to educating students and cultivating a capacity for lifelong learning, core to the school and university’s mission.
“I am deeply honored to receive the 1943 Legacy Award and thankful to the dean of the School of Advanced International Studies and members of the alumni committee,” said Weisband. “In my international studies courses, I’ve focused on vulnerable populations and especially cultural groups worldwide who are most susceptible to hurt, harm, and loss, given the wide range of maleficent forces at work throughout the world today.
“If this award stands for anything in my mind, it is that all of us in education dedicated to understanding human society and the natural world should care about ‘the least among us.’”
Weisband’s signature course at Virginia Tech is Nations and Nationalities: Cultural Constructions of Collective Identity. The introductory offering serves as an opportunity for beginning students to examine in systematic ways the interactions between cultural values and political outcomes in constructing social categories.
“These issues are at the very forefront today in contemporary American political discourse but as well in so many other polities,” said Weisband. “My approach to cultural studies and analysis is comparative, as, in my view, it must be.”
In all his work as a teacher and researcher, Weisband champions the need to cross disciplines.
“It is by no means an accident that my faculty title is the Edward S. Diggs Endowed Chair in the Social Sciences,” said Weisband, who joined the Department of Political Science 31 years ago. “This indicates that my focus has been and remains interdisciplinary with emphasis on political culture and how cultural values and intercultural dynamics influence not only social and economic processes but political dynamics as well.”
Among his many contributions to Virginia Tech, Weisband initiated and co-founded the Diggs Teacher-Scholar and Roundtable Award Program, which recognizes innovative teaching across all colleges, schools, and departments.
Weisband earned the Virginia Tech Sporn Award for excellence in teaching introductory courses in 1992.
Prior to joining the university, Weisband served as the Distinguished Teaching Professor at Binghamton University, State University of New York. In 1987, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education chose Weisband as the New York State Professor of the Year.
Weisband has published 11 books, including, most recently, “The Macabresque: Human Violation and Hate in Genocide, Mass Atrocity, and Enemy-Making.”
Written by Andrew Adkins