Research Trajectories, Big & Small

Handout from a talk delivered in the Lunch & Connect Series for the Ed Policy & Evaluation department

Click here for the handout.Today I led the department of Educational Policy Studies & Evaluation‘s Lunch & Connect meeting on Zoom, focusing on the topic: “Research Trajectories: From Idea to Presentation, to Journal Article, to Book.” I had intended to record the meeting, but due to some of the complication of starting a zoom meeting, making sure people had the link to the virtual handout, etc., I managed not to hit record before starting… Oh well. For today’s session, I made a handout and outline for the meeting I facilitated and led. That outline and handout are available here or by clicking on the Adobe logo on left.

Image of a rocket's trajectory.

I’m grateful to SpaceX-Imagery for permission to use this image.

The EPE department’s Lunch & Connect series is meant to help us stay in touch with each other during the time of COVID-19. Today, October 16th, was the day for which I signed up and weeks ago I had reached out to graduate students who participate in the Agraphia writing meeting that I run weekly, to ask what they’d like to hear about. This was one of the options that I had thrown out and that received the most votes.

John Dewey, standing.

John Dewey.

While the subtitle of my talk reads “From Idea to Presentation, to Journal Article, to Book,” actually it all starts before those smaller matters, with the big picture of one’s aims and career research trajectory. By “career,” I don’t particularly mean to refer to employment, but to the life of one’s research aims. Connecting to the big picture in this way and to who each researcher is represents an outgrowth of John Dewey’s philosophy of education, which calls for recognizing persons’ varied inclinations, interests, and selectivity of attention, as well as their powers, abilities, and attitudes. The big picture need not lead a person to exclude all else, but can allow healthy breaks for divergent projects, while also giving us reasons to watch out for what we often call “rabbit holes.”

I wouldn’t be surprised if I were to give this talk again. If I do so, I’ll be sure to record it. For now, at least, I can share the handout I made for the sake of facilitating today’s meeting. I hope it’s useful.

P.S. If you are interested in studying philosophical issues in education, check out the Philosophical and Cultural Inquiry (PCI) track of the University of Kentucky College of Education’s Ph.D. in Educational Sciences. There aren’t many programs like ours in the country. If you want to learn more, reach out: eric.t.weber@uky.edu

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Undergraduate Research Beyond the Classroom

A Presentation for the Lewis Honors College & for EPE 301 Students at the University of Kentucky

Click here for the handout.On Tuesday, October 13th, 2020, I was invited to give a talk for the Lewis Honors College at the University of Kentucky on “Undergraduate Research Beyond the Classroom.” This talk is also potentially of interest to students in my EPE 301 course on Education in American Culture. Really, this talk is for any undergraduate who might be interested in taking advantage of opportunities to engage in research or its dissemination beyond the classroom. The handout I used can be opened here or by clicking on the Adobe logo on the right.

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

Students in EPE 301 can use this video as 1 hour of their field experience observations. The dangers of COVID-19 prompted the creation of this option. Most students are probably not studying the subject of this talk for their papers, but all are working on research in their undergraduate coursework. In that context, students might find the content of this video useful for taking their work beyond the classroom. In addition, students interested in an issue about which they suspect that I could offer some useful thoughts can email me with their questions or comments as part of their field experience work: eric.t.weber@uky.edu.

In the talk, I reference three texts that aren’t mentioned on the handout. Those books were:

Allen, David. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (New York: Penguin Books, 2015).

Brewer, Robert Lee. Writer’s Market 2020 (New York: Penguin Random House, 2019).

Brewer, Robert Lee. Writer’s Market Guide to Literary Agents 2020 (New York: Penguin Random House, 2019).

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3 Tools for Having Your Computer or Phone Read to You – Text-to-Speech

Every semester, I mention several tools in my classes that I get asked about time and again, so I decided to make a quick video about them. I explain that in the last 5 years, text-to-speech programs have revolutionized how I consume text and how I edit documents. Programs that can read to you allow you to listen to those long emails or that article a friend emailed you while you’re tidying up, walking from A to B, or driving. Here’s a 5 minute video showing what I use and how.

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

In short, I use the “Read Aloud” function in MS Word most. I love it. The reader can be found under the “Review” tab. The text it reads is highlighted as it moves along. You can easily start, pause, or stop it. You can speed it up, slow it down, or change the voice. You can listen quickly to things you need to skim, and then slow it down for passages that you need to attend to carefully. It’s my favorite and is amazing.

Next, I use Adobe PDF’s reading function under “View” (which is funny, right?), then “Read Out Loud,” then “Activate Read Out Loud,” and then choose the length you want read to you. It’s clunkier and less easily manipulable a function in Adobe, but it works and I use it too. I prefer MS Word’s greater functionality, so when I can, I save PDFs as Word files to have them read to me. One thing to note is that not all PDF files are prepared for text-to-speech, such as when someone embeds text in a photo, without leaving it readable. You can often have Adobe scan & OCR the text (optical character recognition), but not always.

Finally, I talk about @Voice, the program on my Android phone that is amazing, allowing me to listen to text on the go. I listen while walking, exercising, doing chores, or driving. It’s amazing. From a long email, I can select the text and click “share,” or I can share files from Word, Adobe, or text from Web sites. That article I’ve been meaning to read, I share to my phone and listen to it on the drive home. It’s amazing and I love it.

Most of all, I love listening to text when I’m editing or reviewing work in MS Word files. It’s a game changer for me, not only because I don’t have to stare at the screen, but also because I love to listen. It’s for me a preferred way to take in the material.

Bonus for people reading this page: I didn’t put this in the video, but I also use Read Aloud for Chrome, to have my laptop read passages from Web sites to me. It’s not as powerful and smooth as Word, but it’s better than having to copy and paste material for just short passages.

Try some of these tools out. Also, notice that the resources we develop for persons with disabilities empower us all. That’s a vital message we should keep in mind, especially when unfeeling people undervalue all the amazing people around the world with disabilities. We should make our world accessible to all, and when we do, we’ll all benefit.

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[VIDEO]: You Should Study the ‘Philosophy of Education’ (EPE525/640) in Fall 2020

Snag a seat!

Graduate students and advanced undergraduates at the University of Kentucky, watch this VIDEO (4m29s) about why you should take my EPE 525 / 640 course in the fall of 2020 on the Philosophy of Education. The EPE 525 course is the undergraduate version of the EPE 640 class, which is for graduate students, and both meet at the same time and in the same room.

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

Why study the Philosophy of Education?

Photo with students at the University of Mississippi.a) Educators and leaders are expected to have a meaningful grasp of their own philosophies of education;

b) All research is rooted in frameworks of ideas that support and contextualize our work and thought, and that can clarify and help us to focus or be conflicted and confuse us if not carefully considered;

c) Everyone working in educational administration contributes to a system that functions with respect to or in conflict with underlying philosophical ideas. That calls for appreciating and always keeping in mind what we ought to be doing in education.

What you’ll get out of it / create:

Eric Thomas Weber, author of "Uniting Mississippi: Democracy and Leadership in the South" speaks at Sturgis Hall October 19, 2015. Photo Credit: Jacob Slaton

Photo Credit: Jacob Slaton

1) A short “teaching statement,” “Statement on Educational Philosophy,” or related document commonly requested in academic job applications, as well as for administrative positions that often involve teaching courses or otherwise supporting them;

2) A book review for possible publication (optional route for students’ presentation);

3) A conference-length paper ready for submission to professional calls for papers;

4) A full-length research paper suitable for submission to journals and that could support your other projects;

John Dewey, standing.

John Dewey, concerned that you’re not yet signed up for the course.

5) An op-ed-length version of the research paper for possible submission to newspapers or educational periodicals (optional);

6) Credits that can contribute to the Graduate Certificate in College Teaching and Learning.

When & Where?

It’ll be on Mondays from 4-6:30pm in Dickey Hall rm 127. It is possible that we may start the semester with online meetings via Zoom, but details on such arrangements are yet to be determined. Decisions will follow the University of Kentucky’s guidelines for the sake of safety in the midst or wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Former Students’ Success

Maria Richie, Andrew Nelson, and Dr. Eric Thomas Weber at the 2019 Midwest Educational Research Association conference in Cincinnatti, Ohio.In Fall 2019, 3 of 6 grad students in my EPE 640 class submitted their papers to conferences and had them accepted for presentation. They included: Joseph Barry and Josh Smith presented their papers at the 2020 Southeastern Philosophy of Education Society conference at the University of Georgia in February 2020. Also, Samer Jan had his paper accepted for presentation at the 2020 conference of the Society for Philosophy in the Contemporary World. Josh Smith also will be publishing his book review of Teaching In the Now by Jeff Frank in Columbia University’s Teachers College Record. The photo on right features Weber with two students from his Spring 2019 Ethics and Educational Decision Making course, Andrew Nelson and Maria Richie, whose papers from that class were accepted for presentation at the 2019 Midwest Educational Research Association conference

 

Questions? Email me at eric.t.weber@uky.edu. You can also connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, & Academia.edu.

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“The Pragmatist’s Call to Democratic Activism in Higher Education” is now out

Published in Essays in Philosophy 21, Issue 1/2 (2020): 29-45.

I’m excited to announce that my latest paper has been published in the journal, Essays in Philosophy, volume 21, issue 1/2, in 2020. If you want to read the paper, you can click on the image below or click here.

Image of the top of my paper, 'The Pragmatist's Call to Democratic Activism in Higher Education,' published in Essays in Philosophy.

My abstract for the paper reads as follows:

This essay defends the Pragmatist’s call to activism in higher education, understanding it as a necessary development of good democratic inquiry. Some criticisms of activism have merit, but I distinguish crass or uncritical activism from judicious activism. I then argue that judicious activism in higher education and in philosophy is not only defensible, but both called for implicitly in the task of democratic education as well as an aspect of what John Dewey has articulated as the supreme intellectual obligation, namely to ensure that inquiry is put to use for the benefit of life.

I’m very grateful to Dr. Ramona Ilea for her excellent work as editor of the journal.

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Let’s Get the Facts First

Guest View article on pain medicine & the opioid epidemic by Dr. Paul T. Davis in the The Courier (Findlay, OH), November 5, 2019, A4.

A moving & humane argument concerning medicare and opioid prescriptions*


This is a thumbnail photo of Dr. Davis's essay, published in 'The Courier' of Findlay, OH.

Printable PDF

There is no question that every reasonable and effective method to stop the opioid epidemic should be investigated, and if proven effective, implemented. The horrors and wrecked lives this epidemic have caused are all too real to many people of all ages.

However, we must remember that the opioid epidemic was primarily caused by prescribing these medicines for those with chronic pain not caused by cancer.

In the “Other View” op ed published on Nov 2, 2019, Senators Shelley Capito and Jeanne Shaheen are featured claiming that Medicare encourages over-prescribing of opioids. They are correct in that there have been articles published showing that the number of prescriptions in the Medicare population is rising.

They are also correct that their publicizing this problem has great “optics” and could help their political careers.

However, what is missing from the reports is very important. How many of these prescriptions were written for treatment of cancer pain?

In the 1970’s I watched my friend die in agony with pancreatic cancer because his doctors were afraid of losing their licenses if they gave him adequate pain medicine. They would not treat his pain because of the fear they would addict him.

In his last six weeks of life, he never slept more than 10 to 15 minutes at a time because of the severe, unrelenting pain.

Fast forward to the early part of this century when I had to watch another friend suffer needlessly. He had multiple myeloma, a cancer that causes severe bone pain all over the body. He was getting adequate amounts of pain medicine until well-meaning politicians crafted laws that restricted access to these medicines. It affected everyone, regardless of legitimate need.

These laws did little to curb the over-prescribing of opioids judging by how bad the epidemic got even after they were passed.

But what it did do what make it very difficult for him to get the pain medicine he needed. Anything less than a narcotic, in a big dose was totally worthless.

This is a plea for more information before this gets worse. Medicare-age patients are the most likely to have cancer, and treatment of cancer pain has been a great medical victory in the last 40 years.

Well-meaning laws enacted without considering the collateral damage that could be done to those with a true need would be a horrible tragedy. Or should I say, make a horrible tragedy even worse than it is for the cancer-patients in need.

By all means make it less financially rewarding for inappropriately prescribing opioids for non-cancer pain, but it is too easy to craft a bad policy than it is to fix it later.

We as a society must protect those in the greatest need.

We must ensure that the right drugs are available to the right patients in a timely manner, while keeping harmful treatments of any kind away from everyone.

Get the facts before writing a bad law.

Dr. Paul T. Davis

Dr. Paul T. Davis.

Dr. Paul T. Davis of Findlay, OH, is a retired family physician and former Program Director of the University of Findlay’s Physician Assistant Master’s program. See also the coverage on NPR.org of Dr. Davis and his daughter, Liz Moreno, after she received a bill calling for payment of $17,850 for a urine test.


* I (Eric Thomas Weber) received and read a scan of the printed version of this article in early November and was deeply moved. Wanting to share it, I visitedThe Courier’s’ Web site, and then reached out to them when I could not find it there. I learned that they do not post the essays of guest columnists online, and so I requested permission to share the essay here. As I have lived in Mississippi and presently now live in Kentucky, two states deeply affected by drug addiction, I believe it all the more important that our lawmakers and policymakers think carefully and humanely about the kinds of rules that they establish concerning opioids.

This article is republished here with the permission of the author and of the staff of The Courier of Findlay, Ohio. 

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Take EPE 628, Ethics & Educational Decision Making, S’20

In the spring of 2020, I’ll be teaching Ethics and Educational Decision Making, EPE 628, with both face-to-face AND synchronously online sections! The class meets on Tuesday from 4-6:30pm. Consider signing up or tell your friends who might.

Image of a road that forks, next to the text of the name of the course, 'Ethics and Educational Decision Making.'

Why study Ethics and Educational Decision Making?

  1. Ethics is essential for leadership in the educational policy context;
  2. The course fulfills an elective requirement for the Graduate Certificate in College Teaching and Learning;
  3. The course includes options for customizing assignments for conference and journal submissions;
  4. Two students from last semester had their papers accepted for presentation at the 2019 Midwest Educational Research Association conference;
  5. It’s really fun.

Thumbnail image of a flyer for EPE 628. Clicking on this image opens a PDF of the flyer, which is text searchable. Here’s a flyer for the course, and here’s a short bio about the instructor:

Dr. Eric Thomas Weber is Associate Professor of Educational Policy Studies and Evaluation. He also serves as Executive Director of the Society of Philosophers in America (SOPHIA) and co-host of the Philosophy Bakes Bread radio show and podcast, and is the author of Uniting Mississippi and Democracy and Leadership.

Consider joining the class or sharing this post with your networks! 

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‘Ethics & Public Policy’ course in Fall ’18

For the Fall semester of 2018, I’m planning an upper level course here at the University of Kentucky in ‘Ethics and Public Policy,’ PHI 531, Section 1, which will run on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30 – 4:45 pm. The course will begin with an examination of major moral traditions as well as ethical problems that are special challenges for leadership in the policy sphere. We will then survey a variety of policy areas and documents in which moral consideration is deeply important and needed.

The Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

A stack of newspapers.Areas of interest and application for the course will include:

  • Educational Aims & Policies
  • Mass lncarceration
  • Healthcare Ethics
  • Economic Development Policies
  • Climate Change
  • Human Rights
  • Research Ethics
  • Animal Rights
Image of a flyer for the course, featuring the information described on the present page.

Flyer for the course.

My former students who have studied ethics and public policy with me have gone on to work in the White House, under both the present and previous administrations, the House of Representatives and the Senate, the State Department, the F.B.I., the Heritage Foundation, the Center for American Progress, and numerous think-tanks, as well as a variety of offices in state government. There is need for study of the kind addressed in this course also for countless advocacy groups and organizations, as well as in current events journalism.

For those interested, here is the University of Kentucky’s page with information about how to register for courses for the Fall of 2018.

For those interested in more information now, you can check out my books on ethics and public policy, including:

Cover for 'Morality, Leadership, and Public Policy.'

 

Morality, Leadership, & Public Policy (London: Bloomsbury, 2010)

 

Photo of the paperback and hardback editions of 'Democracy and Leadership.'Democracy and Leadership: On Pragmatism and Virtue (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2013)

and

Paperback editions featuring the cover of 'Uniting Mississippi.'Uniting Mississippi: Democracy and Leadership in the South (Jackson, MS: The University Press of Mississippi, 2015)

 

The logo for Philosophy Bakes Bread, which involves to slices of bread with tails, making them look like dialogue bubbles.In addition, for those who are unfamiliar, I co-host the Philosophy Bakes Bread radio show & podcast that airs on WRFL Lexington, 88.1 FM and in the show we cover a number of public policy topics. Give it a listen!

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Talking Leadership with Grad Students

Logo for the Graduate Student Congress at the University of Kentucky.Today I had the honor of having been invited to speak at the University of Kentucky’s Graduate Student Leadership Conference. My talk was called “Democracy and Leadership in Higher Education: A Talk for Graduate Students.” I seconded some of the prior speaker’s remarks, which concerned the value of networking, including online and via social media. One student had expressed her aversion to social media. I explained that at least one wants to have a good Web site, as people do want to look you up some when getting to know you. One avenue that can help are social media profiles, but a good Web site can do wonders too. I would encourage some of the same things. He had said that Facebook isn’t a great medium, but that’s because he was thinking of one’s personal Facebook profile. And obviously he hasn’t read my post about why scholars need Facebook author pages (and since I wrote that piece, my author page following has grown from ~2k to ~141k).

Eric Weber delivering a different talk years earlier, not the one mentioned in this post.

Photo of the paperback and hardback editions of 'Democracy and Leadership.'I wasn’t there today to talk about social media, though. Instead, I spoke mainly about my 2013 book, Democracy and Leadership, and showed what I think we still have to learn from Plato, even if it needs updating for the modern and democratic era. I find a lot of value in reminding myself of what Plato’s Socrates says in the first book of the Republic. There, Socrates says that good people won’t be willing to lead. They’d rather others do it. But, some compulsion weighs on good people, inspiring them to be leaders against their inclinations. That compulsion is the fact, in his way of thinking, that worse people will lead. In the democratic era, the language of good people and bad people generally rings as unpleasant at best. My translation for democracy is to say that the compulsion could be instead that good people care about problems, injustices, that could be ameliorated with effort. Good people don’t want to be at the top for its own sake, but accept positions of responsibility because of what would happen if other people would not stand up to address key problems.

Bust of Socrates.

Socrates.

After that, I explained how and why I think it’s important that we continue to learn about leadership from Plato, even while we disagree with and let go of his authoritarian outlook. In other words, how he characterizes the virtues of leadership is problematic, but there’s no doubt that wisdom is important for leadership, for example, including in the democratic era. It just needs to be understood, pursued, and embodied democratically. So, I talked about what I take that to mean in many contexts of leadership today, but focusing on prime challenges for grad students. After all, good people will need compulsion in grad school too. Leadership is generally thankless, or worse. Plus, it takes a great deal of time and effort, which generally means a distraction from one’s other work. As such, engaging in leadership efforts as a grad student may well mean taking longer to finish one’s program. That’s something serious to accept. To want to lead despite that may well take some compulsion. Even if it does, however, grad student leaders would be wisest if they engage in democratic practices, acknowledging the dangers, challenges, and harms that can come from leading. They should also beware not to carry the world on their shoulders, as time is short, even at its longest, in graduate school (or we generally want it to be), and colleges and universities are slow-moving, relatively conservative institutions. So, at best one can make incremental change and pass on to the next group of leaders their chance to make a further difference.

As such, leadership in the grad school context should stay humble and stoic about what’s possible, want to lead for the right reasons, and be award of the costs, challenges, and reasons not to lead, all while going after it anyway in those cases that truly call for such a sacrifice.

————–

P.S. Of course there was more detail in the talk, but this is the gist of what I had to say this morning, and the people in attendance seemed to appreciate thinking through these matters with me, raising some very thoughtful and valuable questions. My thanks go out to James William Lincoln and the Graduate Student Congress for the invitation.

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Exciting Growth for Philosophy Bakes Bread

Some of you may recall that I started a podcast in 2015 called Philosophy Bakes Bread. Now that it’s a production of the Society of Philosophers in America (SOPHIA), which airs on WRFL Lexington, and with my co-host from afar Dr. Anthony Cashio, the show is picking up steam.

Logo for Philosophy Bakes Bread.

As a stand alone podcast in 2015 and 2016, each episode was scripted and recorded by yours truly. It took a lot of time and it was hard back then to commit to putting out episodes as regularly as I had wanted to. Now that the show has a cohost and is primarily an interview-format and discussion-style show, and now that it’s on the radio each week, it’s been much easier to commit to regular work on it and to put out a steady stream of episodes. The latter is so crucial for developing and growing an audience.

One bit of good news is that we’ve just received our first iTunes reviews for the show, which are both 5 star reviews! We’re thrilled that people are enjoying the show.

Photo of a microphone and a soundboard.It helps for the show to be on the radio, which already has a listening audience base. Plus, the team at the station has been a big help. They’re looking into ways for us to transcribe the episodes, perhaps with grant support. Then, we’ve seen good early numbers for podcast episode downloads. We’ve only been putting them out since the last week of January, with minimal social media distribution efforts and so far we’ve had over 2,000 downloads. We’re looking to start sending out PSA’s and to get with TV news and newspapers about the program. Who knows. It would certainly be awesome eventually to syndicate the program, if interest grows.

The cool thing about a program like Philosophy Bakes Bread is that we can cover so many topics that matter. We can at the same time simply present matters that scholars are researching, that audiences care about, and we can also be advocates about things that matter. We can have people on whom we think ought to be heard more. Soon, we’ll be airing an interview with conference panelists who wrote and spoke about disability and American philosophy. That’s just one of many exciting examples.

Sliced loaf of French bread.I’ll keep you posted from time to time on what we’re up to with the show. For now, if you’ve not already subscribed, what are you waiting for? Go check us out at PhilosophyBakesBread.com. We’re on iTunes and have a regular RSS feed, which you can learn about on our site. We’ve just now submitted our feed to Google Play, which should likely be listing the show soon. And, of course, we’re on Facebook and Twitter. Check us out!