Video of my Interview on WLOV of Tupelo

Screenshot of the interview I gave for WLOV's This Morning show with Katrina Berry.

As promised,  I’m posting here below my interview on WLOV of Tupelo’s This Morning show with Katrina Berry. Also, below that is a photo of the nice layout that Reed’s Gumtree Bookstore setup for the book signing later that day.

If you can’t see this video in your RSS reader or email, then click here.

Katrina was a lovely person who was kind and encouraging. As I said, she drove home the fact that on WLOV they like to support local authors.  It was a great experience, and also featured the fastest turnaround I’ve experienced for getting a video of the broadcast. All around, great trip.

Oh, and here’s Reed’s Gumtree Bookstore’s nice setup before the book signing. Very nice people there too. They’ve got signed books from John Grisham, George Will, and many more. Great people.

Nice table and display layout for my book signing at Reed's Gumtree Bookstore in Tupelo, MS.

If you know of TV or radio stations that would be interested in an interview about Uniting Mississippi, or groups looking for a speaker, contact me on Twitter, Facebook, or via my info on my Contact page.

Had a Great Visit with Katrina Berry on WLOV Tupelo

Photo of terrible rain in between Oxford and Tupelo, MS.Despite the torrential rain this morning, I made it on time to meet with Katrina Berry of WLOV Tupelo’s This Morning show.

Berry is an impressive, award-winning journalist and TV anchor. Her award was from the Associated Press for her weekly series, Heavenly Helpers. When I first got a chance to talk with her, she explained that they aim to support local authors on the show, which was great.

It can seem strange to most scholars to put a lot of effort into securing and participating in a 3 minute interview, which is what it came out to be. Consider how much advertisers spend on 30 seconds or 1 minute of television, however, and all of a sudden, you can appreciate better what 3 minutes of air-time means, in financial terms. One source estimates that even on a local show, ads can cost from as little as $200 to as much as $1,500 for 30 seconds. So a 3 minute interview could be valued from anywhere between $1,200 and $9,000. That’s worth the drive to Tupelo, MS. Those aren’t funds that come to me, of course, but they are value that the show offers for getting the word out about Uniting Mississippi.

After a few nice questions about the book, Berry asked me about the book signing that I’ll be holding from 12-1:30 pm today at Reed’s Gumtree Bookstore, here in Tupelo. Here are a few photos I snagged of my visit to WLOV. When I get a clip of the video of the interview, I’ll post it to my site also. It was a great experience.

Selfie photo of Eric Thomas Weber with Katrina Berry of WLOV Tupelo. Photo of the weatherman in front of a green screen in Tupelo, MS's WLOV TV studio. Photos from the WLOV TV studio in Tupelo, MS.

Know a TV station that might be interested in hearing about Uniting Mississippi? Let me know on Twitter or on Facebook

Public Philosophy Is Worth It

Logo for WLOV Tupelo.I’ve tried my hand at a few new kinds of public engagement efforts that have borne fruit. The latest example for me is in seeking TV interviews to talk about issues in public philosophy, particularly some ideas about how I think Mississippi could benefit from good democratic leadership. I’m headed to Tupelo, MS for an interview on WLOV’s This Morning show, Wednesday, November 18th. Then, on Monday, December 7th November 23rd, (updated), I’ll be heading to Biloxi, MS to give an interview on WLOX’s News at 4 show. After each I’ll be holding a book signing, though only the one in Tupelo has been scheduled at this point.

The Thinker, statue.Scholars or readers curious about higher education may wonder: why do all of this? We certainly have enough work to do teaching classes, researching and writing, applying for grants, and serving our institutions and professional associations (the work of a professor is a lot more than what folks see in the classroom). Why add on to that with “outreach” or public engagement?

In “The Search for the Great Community,” from The Public and Its Problems, John Dewey argues that democracy’s prime difficulty has to do with how a mobile, complex, and many layered community can come to define itself and its interests. He believed that the key to addressing democratic challenges was to make use of democratic means, particularly communication. Democracy can embody wise leadership, but only with widespread, maximally unhindered communication, especially emphasizing the developments of human knowledge — the sciences, broadly speaking. For that reason, it is a clear and crucial extension of his democratic theory to value the public engagement of scholars with their communities.

Scan of 'First Day of Issue' envelope honoring John Dewey in the 'Prominent Americans' series. The envelope bears Dewey's stamp, which was valued at 30 cents and issued on October 21, 1968.

When Dewey referred to public engagement, however, that did not mean only a one-way street. Communication takes listening too. So, the point isn’t only for scholars to speak to audiences, but for them also to learn from the people. When I write, I draw increasingly often from newspapers and magazines to illustrate my points about what people are saying and experiencing beyond the academy. Scholarly research is vital, but so is the world beyond the academy. Some circles have criticized me for it in peer-reviews, but so far I haven’t let that dissuade me from seeing scholars’ task as needing to draw also on sources and input from beyond the academy. In addition, talking with people around Mississippi and in other states about my work has revealed all kinds of interesting insights. Some people offer me great examples that I can use to strengthen my points. Others highlight challenges for bringing about the kinds of changes that I believe are needed.

A November 2015 article by John Corvino in the Detroit Free Press, titled "Why Marco Rubio Needs Philosophers."My point in this blog post is to give scholars and other writers a little nudge of encouragement to try something unusual: reach out to news stations and outlets. Some folks do this already. A great public philosopher, for example, is John Corvino. Few of us consider trying something that a mentor of mine encouraged me to try, though. John Lachs of Vanderbilt University said to me: “Plenty of people will read your op-eds, but vastly more people watch TV.” He encouraged me to pursue that direction for engagement. So, in addition to writing for newspapers I’ve been working on developing my “platform,” for which this Web site serves as a key tool. Along with that, there are ways to present oneself to news organizations, such as in creating a “press kit.” It was foreign to me too until I read Platform by Michael Hyatt (creator of my Web site’s WordPress theme, GetNoticedTheme).

With the help of a student research assistant, I wrote to a handful of TV news outlets to let them know about my latest book, a work of public philosophy — Uniting Mississippi: Democracy and Leadership in the South. In the letter, I explained a little bit about the book, as well as my interest in getting the word out about the issues it covers. I then enclosed a nice brochure about the book that the University Press of Mississippi designed for it. Finally, I included an abbreviated 1-page press kit, as well as a short, 1-page set of “interview resources,” that I learned about from Michael Hyatt’s book.  The letters went out in the last two weeks. A little over 10 days later, I got calls and emails from two TV stations inviting me for interviews. It worked.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: The point of public engagement as a scholar is not in itself to get attention, money, or fame. The latter two are highly unlikely anyway. The point is to get our ideas out there and to learn from others through that engagement. If the ideas that we develop in the academy are worthwhile, then they’re worth some effort to spread the word about them. Benefits come from doing these things, but by far the greatest of these are the effects, however small, that we can have on our culture and the relationships we can expand and develop through the effort to speak up about issues that we care about and study.

Tell me on my Facebook page or on Twitter about your public writing and engagement.

Senator Sasse’s Moving Senate Speech

Senator Ben Sasse. Link goes to the video of his maiden speech in the Senate.

Public Policy Leadership alumn Elliott Warren kindly sent me a link to this maiden address from Senator Ben Sasse, Junior Senator from Nebraska (R). It was an incredibly kind compliment for Elliott to say that this Senator’s speech reminded him of my classes here at the University of Mississippi. Senator Sasse calls for a renewal of the virtues of deliberation that the Senate is supposed to embody. He explicitly points to Socrates for insight, and to the methods of Socratic dialogue. He calls on his colleagues explicitly to avoid straw man fallacies and other errors of reasoning. It was the most elegant speech I have heard from a Senator in years.

The speech is 29 minutes long. You may not have that time right now. At some point, though, you will be glad that you watched Senator Sasse’s speech. I urge you all to find the time. Here’s his speech on C-SPAN.

U. of MS SOPHIA Chapter Interest Survey

Logo of the Society of Philosophers in America (SOPHIA).

Conversational meeting in progress in Oxford, MS.People in and around Oxford, MS,

The Society of Philosophers in America (SOPHIA) is now a member and chapter organization. We are founding our chapter in Oxford this academic year and are gathering information from people who might be interested in participating in our chapter. SOPHIA is a national nonprofit that has been around since 1983. Our aim is to use the tools of philosophical inquiry to improve people’s lives and enrich the profession of philosophy through conversation and community building.
If you are interested in learning more or know you’d like to participate in our SOPHIA chapter here in Oxford,

Logo for surveymonkey.Please fill out this SURVEY.


(It’s short)

We haA conversational meeting in plans for a first gathering on Friday, December 11th, to have a short, relaxed conversation on the nature of and challenges for community. Dr. Andrea Houchard will be our invited facilitator, and she has had great success building a chapter in Flagstaff, AZ.

“Trump’s slogans not enough to win”

Interview with Javad Heiran-Nia in Tehran Times, November 1, 2015, 1 & 11.

Front page of the Tehran Times, November 1, 2015. I have again had the great opportunity to give an interview for reporter Javad Hieran-Nia of The Tehran Times, Iran’s major English-language newspaper. I feel honored to have my interview again land the first page of the paper. The image on right is of the front page, but is also a link to a printable Adobe PDF version of the piece, which I edited onto one page. You can alternatively click here or on the title of the piece below for the same linked file.

The piece is titled “Trump’s popular slogans will not be
enough to win him the primary election: Weber,” The Tehran Times, November 1, 2015, pages 1 & 11.

The interview is available on paper’s site here.

“Judge Reeves speaks at UM”

Originally published in the Oxford Eagle on October 28, 2015. Republished with permission.

Image of Lyndy Berryhill of the Oxford Eagle.

Lyndy Berryhill, Oxford Eagle.

I’m grateful to Lyndy Berryhill of The Oxford Eagle, who came to our forum with Judge Reeves. She also kindly gave me permission to republish her piece on my page here. Thanks again to the Mississippi Humanities Council and to the College of Liberal Arts for their support for the event! Thanks to Berryhill for coming and letting people know about the event. There’s so much to be proud of in Mississippi. It’s crucial that we talk about that more often. Here’s her piece:

Judge Carlton Reeves, photo by Lyndy Berryhill of the Oxford Eagle, 2015.

Judge Carlton Reeves, photo by Lyndy Berryhill of the Oxford Eagle, 2015.

By Lyndy Berryhill

In the wake of racial discussions on campus, the University of Mississippi provided students with a speaker to talk about Mississippi history and racial violence in the state.

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves of Mississippi.

District Judge Carlton Reeves has presided over key race and equality cases in Mississippi

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves spoke on “Race and Moral Leadership in the U.S. Judicial System.” Tuesday afternoon in Bryant Hall.

“Mississippi has struggled with its past, but it has also struggled to move forward,” Reeves said.

Reeves famously presided over the racially charged murder of James Craig Anderson and later sentenced his murderers to prison. NPR called his speech at the trial “breathtaking” and it garnered Reeves national media attention. During the forum, Reeves talked about the case and how it was important for people to realize what a hate crime is.

Weber in 2010 in Ventress Hall at the University of Mississippi.

Ventress, (c) U of MS 2010.

He said he believes there is a new Mississippi starting to form with a new generation. A couple decades ago, most of the racial progress that is present today would be unthinkable. He said to continue that progress, students have to continue to have open discussions and remain open-minded.

“The response to him was better than I could have hoped for. The students could relate to Judge Reeves, because he’s from Mississippi,” said Eric Thomas Weber, associate professor of public policy leadership.

“Students often feel that politics is uncooperative, primarily a battle between competing interests. Sometimes, however, we can find shining examples of virtuous people and leaders making the right decisions,” he said.

Logo of the Mississippi Humanities Council.Weber routinely brings in visiting speakers relevant to the current news cycle. With the help of the Mississippi Humanities Council, Weber brought Reeves to visit his class and speak to a packed open forum.

Reeves first arrived in time for a lunch with public policy leadership majors and then he joined a philosophy of leadership class.

“Over the last few years, as I wrote ‘Uniting Mississippi,’ the racially charged murder of James Craig Anderson offered the most troubling recent example of injustice here that is rooted in underlying cultural divides and hatred,” Weber said.

After he wrote the book, Weber came across Judge Reeves’ speech from the sentencing in the case.

The Lyceum building at the University of Mississippi.“It truly took my breath away,” Weber said. “I was so moved that I immediately decided to write Judge Reeves to tell him. I mentioned in my note that if he were ever willing to come to my philosophy of leadership course, we would love to have him come to the university.”

Within a matter of hours, Reeves replied that he would be honored.

Weber said Reeves is an example of hope for progress in Mississippi.

“He is also an inspiration for our students to look beyond partisanship to the character of our leaders,” Weber said. “I couldn’t ask for more from the visit of an invited guest.”

The Oxford Eagle logo. Reposted here with permission from The Oxford Eagle.

Book Talk on ‘Uniting Mississippi: Democracy and Leadership in the South’

At the Clinton School for Public Service, on Monday, October 19, 2015 at noon.

I am so grateful for two lovely introductions, one from Dean Skip Rutherford of the Clinton School and a former student of mine studying there, Rob Pillow. This video includes only the talk and Q&A. If I can get their intros, I’ll post them too. The Clinton School folks are excellent at what they do and were wonderful hosts. Here’s the video of my book talk:

If you can’t see this video in your RSS reader or email, then click here.

You can find the video on the Clinton School’s speakers site here.

If you’re interested in inviting me to speak with your group, visit my Speaking and Contacts pages. 

UM’s University Police Department Impressive

This morning, I had to call Jackson, MS. So, I dialed 9 to get an outside line, then hit 1. Actually, somehow — I don’t think I could repeat it, as I don’t know how I did it — I managed to hit the 1 button twice, as fast as a double-clicked mouse. I realized that I had made a mistake, so I hung up and redialed. It worked and I had to leave a message. No problem.

About 20 seconds after I hung up, I got a call from the University Police Department. I didn’t understand it at first, but I was asked about my 911 call. What? Suddenly, I realized that I had indeed, totally by accident, pressed those buttons, before I quickly hung up. I felt embarrassed for not even having realized what I had done. More importantly, I apologized to the dispatcher and to the two UPD officers who showed up at my door within about 45 more seconds.

Photo of the UPD staff at the University of Mississippi.

Breathing like they had hurried, they kindly asked me if everything was alright. They didn’t for a second make me feel bad for having foolishly sounded an alarm. I was responsible for spiking at least three people’s adrenaline, though they looked quite calm. I felt my own adrenaline rise as I became aware of the magnitude of my dialing error. The fact that we need today to respond that fast to problems that arise on campuses around the United States rushed into my thoughts.

Protesters calling for secession at the University of Mississippi, October 2015.

Beyond the violence that has occurred on campuses around the U.S., in Jackson and in Oxford protesters are calling for secession, threatening “to fight” if they can’t achieve their ends by political means. They complain of “Marxists” in politics and in education. They’re frightening and are reasons why now, of all times, we need all the more vigilance and prompt replies to 911 calls. I won’t be testing the system accidentally again, but I can testify to the impressive professionalism I witnessed from UPD.

I’m grateful to UPD, who revealed to me how well oiled their system is. I feel much safer on campus after that experience. I also plan to order a special dialing wand, like the one Homer Simpson needed, or at least to be infinitely more careful than I was this morning when I dial out.

I’m grateful to the three I spoke with for their generous understanding about my accidental dialing. I’m more grateful for their and the university’s serious and professional effort to be rapidly responsive when called upon. The next time I’m feeling cynical from witnessing people who seem not to care about others’ problems, I’m going to think about my experience today. The rest of us avoid danger, while some good, courageous people rush towards it for our safety.

For a little levity, Homer Simpson’s dialing problem:

If you can’t see this video in your RSS reader or email, then click here.

Unscientific Justification for My Coffee Dependency

Silly chart that I made unscientifically to show a slight correlation between increased coffee consumption and increased per capita GDP.

I was thinking about coffee because I love it, and a silly idea struck me. I’m not a quantitative researcher and the silly activity I spent a few minutes on this morning is utterly unscientific and drawn from sources that confer no serious credibility. Therefore, I urge anyone looking at this not to cite it in any kind of research or writing, unless you’re writing about silliness.

I wondered whether one could show some correlation between growth in coffee consumption and economic growth. Selecting out an inconvenient year before my chart starts, I got a bit of a correlation. Both go up! See?!

It gave me a chuckle, so I thought I’d share. Even if it’s just a silly thought to make me feel better about my dependency on coffee…