Steven Weber Interview: Conversations with History; Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley

Power in the 
    Information Age: Conversation with Steven Weber, Professor of Political Science, 
    UC Berkeley, April 28, 2003, by Harry Kreisler
Photo by Jane Scherr

Page 5 of 5


One final question. How would you advise students to prepare for the future?

I would advise students to enjoy your undergraduate years, enjoy your graduate school years even more, and spend time making sure that you know how to think through a problem in an analytic and critical way. I teach a lot of undergraduates here, as most Berkeley faculty do, and I've had the honor of teaching mostly juniors and seniors. In my undergraduate International Relations class, I try to give them competing viewpoints on a problem in a very distinct way, in the stuff that they read. I've had students early in the semester come to me and say, "This guy says this and this woman says that, and they both seem right ... So who's right?" And, you know, I look at them and say, "That's the point." It's a hard skill to be a critical reader, a critical thinker, and to be able to parse out what it takes to answer that question. The question for students is not who's right, but what would I need to do to figure out the answer to that question? If you can grab that skill while you're going through college -- and I didn't learn it while I was in college as well as I should have, I learned it a little later; I really learned it in graduate school -- if you can grab that skill of figuring out what you would need to do to answer that question, then you can bring that to bear on almost anything through the rest of your life. If we can graduate students from this institution with that skill, we will have done 95 percent of our job.

Steve, on that note, I want to thank you for taking the time to be with us today.

Thank you, Harry.

And thank you very much for joining us for this Conversation with History.

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