Professional News

‘Great Teacher’ Eric Weber captures students’ attention by exploring their interests

Video produced by UK Public Relations and Strategic Communication and UK Marketing and Brand Strategy. To view captions for this video, push play and click on the CC icon in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. If using a mobile device, click on the “thought bubble” in the same area.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 20, 2024) — In March, the University of Kentucky Alumni Association honored six recipients with this year’s Great Teacher Awards.  Launched in 1961, they are the longest-running UK award recognizing accomplished and passionate educators. 

In order to receive the honor, teachers must first be nominated by a student. The UK Alumni Association Great Teacher Award Committee, in cooperation with the student organization Omicron Delta Kappa, then makes the final selection. Recipients receive a commemorative award and stipend. 

Eric Weber, Ph.D., associate professor in the UK College of Education and one of the distinguished 2024 Great Teacher Award recipients, captures his students’ attention by exploring their interests.

“My outlook on teaching is very much driven by the teachings of John Dewey, which include the idea that interest is the most important self-motivating spring of energy in education.”

Weber applies this idea to the classes he teaches in the Department of Educational Policy Studies and Evaluation.

“I try to present matters in a way that people can appreciate how and why someone would care about them,” Weber said. “And I think the key is trying to understand and identify the interests of the students in order to steer them towards projects of great meaning and encourage them to engage with you in class.”

Weber is honored to be a “Great Teacher” and is motivated by his curiosity to learn from his students.

“I've been blessed with an enormous number of really fascinating ideas and ways of thinking that I never came up with. I think it’s a virtuous circle,” he said. “I get to get up every day and work in an industry in which the goal is to help empower people to pursue meaningful lives and to have a better society. For me, I can’t think of a more joyous activity.”

Weber joined the EPE faculty in the in the fall of 2018 after teaching for two years in the UK philosophy department. Before that, he was assistant and then associate professor of public policy leadership at the University of Mississippi, where he taught from 2007 to 2016. His Ph.D. is in philosophy with a focus on John Dewey’s work, applied to democracy, education and justice.

Weber is also the executive director of the Society of Philosophers in America (SOPHIA) Inc., an educational nonprofit founded in 1983. In that role he produced and co-hosted the syndicated and award-winning Philosophy Bakes Bread radio show and podcast on WRFL Lexington 88.1 FM. The station recognized the program as its “Overall Favorite Show” in 2018.

To learn more about what makes Weber a “Great Teacher,” check out the video above.  

In the coming weeks, UKNow will continue to share videos featuring this year’s Great Teacher Award winners. 

Eric Weber
Eric Weber is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Policy Studies and Evaluation in the UK College of Education.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.