DR. JOSEPH WEINBERG
AUGUST MEMBER OF THE MONTH
University of Southern Mississippi
Department of Political Science, International Development and International Affairs
Member since 2005
WHY DID YOU BECOME A POLITICAL SCIENTIST?
My grandfather was a State Senator and a US Representative, so my interest in politics goes back quite a way. When he was sworn in as a member of the 99th Congress, he took me (age 6) down to the floor with him and I took the oath of office from Tip O’Neill as well. When it came time for college, there were no other real options for my undergraduate major. I went to work on Capitol Hill soon after graduating. Of course, my career in politics was quite different than my career as a political scientist. For that I would have to credit those professors who influenced my decision to pursue a teaching career. Dr. Jim Thurber at American University and Dr. Bill Sabo at UNC-Asheville were particularly influential as political scientists and mentors.
WHY DID YOU JOIN APSA AND WHY DO YOU CONTINUE TO STAY INVOLVED?
Like everyone else, I came to the website for the job ads and I stayed for the rest. As my career has progressed, I am finding the utility of all the useful information that the website and organization can provide—especially as my administrative obligations increase. The annual conference is one of the few that I never miss. I am always sure to get good feedback on my papers, learn about interesting new research and see old friends.
WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING ASPECT OF BEING A POLITICAL SCIENTIST? HOW?
I have had many different jobs over the years—enough to know that I shouldn’t complain too much about this one. Beyond the usual challenges of any academic career, I think political scientists face the additional challenge of a constantly changing landscape. In order to keep our teaching and research relevant, we must be able to keep up with a great deal of real-time information and adapt for our students very quickly. That and I think we can all agree that it’s never a good idea to tell people on an airplane what you do for a living. Recently, I’ve been claiming to be an Economist. Works every time.
IF YOU COULD GIVE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE TO SOMEONE IN THEIR GRADUATE/UNDERGRADUATE YEARS, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
I had a difficult time in graduate school—trying to figure out if the journey was worth it; if this is what I really wanted to do. No one can make that decision for you, but it is perfectly normal and if you’ve been writing a dissertation for two years and the thought of quitting has never crossed your mind, then you don’t need any advice. The best quick tips I can give beyond that are: 1) Become proficient in methods—it is the gift that keeps on giving. 2) If you are demoralized by rejection letters and want to know what a “publishable” article looks like—look at a published article. Then make yours look like that. (Thanks to Dr. Ryan Bakker for teaching me that one) and 3) Always be polite, always be professional, it’s a VERY small world.
OUTSIDE OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, TELL US SOMETHING INTERESTING ABOUT YOURSELF.
a very useless superpower in which I am constantly meeting famous people. I
don’t seek these people out, but I always seem to wind up running into them.
Living in both DC and Los Angeles certainly put me in the right areas, but no
matter where I am—if there’s a celebrity—they will find me. I could make a
list, but it would be too long and besides: “Nobody likes a name dropper”. Robert
DeNiro told me that.