Faculty

At a time when the U.S. is deeply divided politically and ideologically, Jonathan Wharton, associate professor of political science and urban affairs, is committed to students — democrats and republicans.

The office of Jonathan Wharton, associate professor of political science and urban affairs, houses numerous mementos.

Americans are divided on everything — except division. That’s the not-so-stunning conclusion of an NBC News and Wall Street Journal poll in which 80 percent of respondents described the U.S. as divided.

Helping to bridge this political and ideological rift, Jonathan Wharton, associate professor of political science and urban affairs, is a unifying force on campus — serving as adviser to the College Republicans and the College Democrats.

“I never thought I had to be partisan,” says Wharton of his students-first approach. Wharton is a member of the Republican Party, but was raised with an acceptance of opposing viewpoints by parents, who are members of different political parties. “They actually agree on 80 to 90 percent of things. But they are sticking [with their parties], and it was never problematic or disrespectful,” says Wharton.

The College Democrats and College Republicans work well together. The two student organizations held on-campus viewing parties during the 2016 presidential election. (Inspired, in part, by Wharton’s dual advisory roles, the vibrant gatherings received significant attention from the media.) In 2018, 20-plus students — members of both parties — joined faculty at the gubernatorial debates at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven. More joint events are promised for the 2020 election.

When it comes to political action, Wharton describes himself as “a behind the scenes kind of guy,” drawn to planning fund raisers and networking. “My students would rather do the door knocking, the phone banking, the social media. They’d rather follow the research, get the data,” he says.

Adept at wearing multiple hats, Wharton is also the internship adviser for the department. Many students complete multiple internships, up to 15 credits, working in federal and state congressional offices, law firms, nonprofit organizations, city offices, think tanks, and more.

“Most are much better students because of it,” says Wharton, who finds their commitment inspiring and heartening. “Do you know how many students love to do campaign work? It boggles my mind,” he says.

Wharton was raised in West Hartford but was born in New York City — and his parents came from Boston and Chicago. “As a child, I grew attached to these cities we visited. I think that’s why I studied local politics,” says Wharton, shown participating in Southern’s 2019 undergraduate commencement exercises.

Following, Wharton shares more on his commitment to urban planning, politics, and students.

A born educator: “One could argue it’s in the DNA. Both sides of the family have been educators,” says Wharton. His parents met in the doctoral program at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City. His grandmothers were teachers. Both grandfathers were lawyers; his paternal grandfather an ambassador as well. “There was always this interest in politics, law, and education,” he says.

A career change: Wharton left a position working with the New Jersey State Legislature to pursue a career in education. “The classroom drew me back in every time,” he says.

In the class: “I like to spark debate and discussion. . . . I want students to be intrigued, curious, and provoked.”

Always civic minded: Wharton serves on the City Planning Commission of New Haven.

Thinking local: “What I try to convey to [students] is that you can make a difference in your community at the local or state level. It takes them a while to get their heads around that. But when they recognize it, the potential is there,” says Wharton.

Why he choose Southern: “I was struck by the fact that it was a teaching university. . . . I liked the small classroom sizes at Southern. And I like the regional universities dynamic. They take teaching so seriously, which I think is critical. They do faculty development workshops, analyze teaching methods, and focus on pedagogy concerns.”

Four treasured office mementos:
1) campaign signs — “A great opener with students when discussing the ins and outs of campaign work,” he says.
2) a first-place banner from a National Collegiate Club Golf Association tournament (2017), signed by the participating students. Wharton also is adviser of Southern’s golf team, which competes in the Metro region.
3) several awards for exceptional work as an adviser
4) a “Distinguished Alumnus Award” from Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity (March 2019)

Research focus: Wharton and Theresa Marchant-Shapiro, associate professor of political science, are working with university librarians to accession the archival papers of several former New Haven mayors. The collection was established through the generosity of attorney Neil Thomas Proto, ’67, and is housed in Buley Library.

In the News: Wharton is a monthly state/local politics analyst on WNPR’s Where We Live and The Wheelhouse.

Southern Alumni Magazine cover, Fall 2019, featuring Peter Marra, '85

Read more stories in the Fall ’19 issue of Southern Alumni Magazine.

Madhouse, funny farm, psychiatric hospital, loony bin, nuthouse, mental institution: no matter what you call it, the asylum has a powerful hold on the American imagination. Stark and foreboding, these institutions symbolize mistreatment, fear, and imprisonment, standing as castles of despair and tyranny across the countryside. In the “asylum” of American fiction and film, treatments are torture, attendants are thugs, and psychiatrists are despots.

In Nightmare FactoriesThe Asylum in the American Imagination, published by Johns Hopkins University Press, Troy Rondinone, professor of history, offers the first history of mental hospitals in American popular culture.

The book focuses on how the asylum has been portrayed though movies, novels and other media, exploring the effect that these portrayals have had on American culture and the stigma of mental illness.

Beginning with Edgar Allan Poe’s 1845 short story “The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether,” Rondinone surveys how American novelists, poets, memoirists, reporters, and filmmakers have portrayed the asylum and how those representations reflect larger social trends in the United States. Asylums, he argues, darkly reflect cultural anxieties and the shortcomings of democracy, as well as the ongoing mistreatment of people suffering from mental illness.

Nightmare Factories traces the story of the asylum as the masses have witnessed it – often as dark, scary places, where patients are tortured with their “treatment.” This scenario is partly true and partly exaggerated, according to Rondinone, who shows how works ranging from Moby-Dick and Dracula to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s NestHalloween, and American Horror Story have all conversed with the asylum.

Drawing from fictional and real accounts, movies, personal interviews, and tours of mental hospitals both active and defunct, he has uncovered a story at once familiar and bizarre, where reality meets fantasy in the foggy landscape of celluloid and pulp.

Rondinone also points out that today’s mental health institutions are not like the scary places associated with the American imagination. But he said that unfortunate mantle has fallen to some of America’s contemporary prisons, particularly those where inmates are forced to stay in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day.

Rondinone has discussed this topic with the media, including a recent conversation on WSHU radio.

He also has been writing a series of blog posts for Psychology Today magazine – exploring the history of mental institutions in America, their portrayal in pop culture and the impact that they have had on the American psyche and culture.

And most recently he wrote a perspective piece for The Washington Post: “Scary asylums are a Halloween classic, but it’s time to retire the trope: It’s hurting those suffering from mental illness.” 

 

Walter Stutzman with former students in the applied music program

Ten years later, the Stutzman Family Foundation is still transforming lives.

In January 2016 Candace Naude, ‘20, was sitting in the audience of the Broadway musical Spring Awakening when she had an awakening of her own. “I realized that I have to pursue music,” Naude says. “I couldn’t escape it anymore.”

Naude had been passionate about music her entire life but had been discouraged from making a career of it.

“Music wasn’t one of the hiring industries, and everyone told me it would be so hard for me to find a job and make a living,” Naude says. “Unfortunately I listened to them, and decided to join the Army. I enlisted immediately after high school and spent four years in the military. In 2014 I was honorably discharged and moved back home to Trumbull.” Money was tight, but Naude enrolled in the music program at Southern.

“I didn’t care if I couldn’t find a job or make an easy living,” Naude says. “I needed to make music.”

An epiphany that calls one back to music is something Walter Stutzman, adjunct faculty member with Southern’s Department of Music, can relate to. Shaken by 9-11 — he was across the street from the North Tower of the World Trade Center when the attacks occurred  — he retired from 30 years of software consulting and came to Southern shortly afterwards to earn a BA in Music.

“My life was transformed through the music I studied and performed and was further changed when I joined [Southern’s] music faculty in 2009,” Stutzman says. He found the experience so transformative, he sought to help other students fulfill their dreams. As a trustee of the Stutzman Family Foundation, which was established by his parents, Geraldine and Jacob Stutzman, shortly before their deaths in the mid-2000s, Stutzman has helped make the music program at Southern one of the best.

“He has transformed the entire program,” says Craig Hlavac, associate dean for the College of Arts and Sciences at Southern. “Music students are studying with professionals in the area, so they’re learning the ropes from these folks and the business aspects as well.”

Mani Mirzaee, ‘14, a composer, educator, pianist, setar and tar performer, experienced that first-hand.

“The care and kindness the music faculty showed gave me the confidence to pursue music as a career, and the Stutzman Foundation truly enabled the faculty to provide the student body with the attention and care they had to give,” Mirzaee says. “The Stutzman Foundation elevated the capacity the faculty had within the music department. Practice rooms, computers, enhanced digital audio work-stations and many other amazing amenities were provided for the students.”

This evolving technology has helped keep the music curriculum relevant — and to attract students interested in the technological side of the field.

“You can have a career in this, and that’s why our degree looks different than most,” Hlavac says. “We have classes in music technology, for example. With other schools, their curriculum may look the same as it did 50 years ago. We’ve adapted. And with Stutzman’s background in IT, he saw this and helped us to build a music studio, which allows us to train students in music technologies. The entire landscape of music has changed, from CDs to YouTube, and we’re right on pace.”

The cutting-edge technology appealed to musicians like Terri Lane, ‘08, who has been in the music business as a professional singer for years. (Similar to Stutzman and Naude, Lane had an epiphany and left a successful 20-year career in the fields of energy efficiency, sales, and marketing to pursue music.)

“When I researched schools, the SCSU professors impressed me school-wide,” says Lane. “The curriculum was so updated. The teachers were performers too and that means they’re continually improving themselves and not stagnant. It was the only school I applied to, and the first day I knew I’d made the right decision. The emphasis on technology gives everyone access to music and music production.”

Access is a crucial component to the Stutzman Family Foundation’s mission. In addition to revamping the program itself, the Stutzman Family Foundation offers the Stutzman Family Foundation Music Scholarship(s) and the Southern Applied Music Program, which provides  free weekly voice or instrument lessons.

Those free lessons immediately stood out to Naude. “Most, if not all, schools charge their students for music lessons,” Naude says. “It was remarkable to me that it wouldn’t cost me a dime. The lessons completely changed my life. I always considered myself as a pretty good singer, but never before have I been pushed so far to discover what I am truly capable of. I have learned to be more confident, have better stage presence, learn more languages (a lot of classical pieces are German and French), and access so many different parts of my voice that I didn’t even know I had. I have essentially become a more improved version of myself.”

International choir trips, available at a discounted price thanks to the Stutzman Foundation and taken with the University Choir, also enable students to improve their skills. This year, the choir is visiting Rome, Tuscany (Florence), and Venice and will sing Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica and the Basilica of St. Anthony.

“For students that have been in the choir consecutively since they’ve attended Southern,” says Naude, “the foundation actually pays for the entire trip, apart from a $500 charge to the student. I was able to travel with the choir to Portugal. I am so appreciative for what [the Stutzmans] have done for the musicians of Southern.”

Mirzaee, too, is quick to express his gratitude.

“What sets Professor Stutzman apart from other human beings is not his philanthropic activities, but his eagerness to partake in the act of enabling others as a teacher and a mentor,” Marzaee says. “Over the years as a student and now a teacher, I have come to the conclusion that we can surpass any hurdle in life if we have someone that enables us to believe in ourselves. Ten years ago, as I was dreaming about my future at Southern, moving forward inch by inch and hoping to get to the next level of my musical career and educational step. I am forever grateful to him for giving me the opportunity to dream and move forward.”

If you are wondering if the music field is right for you, perhaps your epiphany is soon to come. If you’re growing restless, though, perhaps the aphorism Stutzman uses when he begins his Music Survey class may ring true:

“Music in the ears. Listen with open ears and an open mind: There are many musics around the world that are worthy of your careful listening. Music in the head. Knowing what’s inside music (its structures) and how it developed into what we hear today is important. Music in the hands. Practice! One of my teachers at Southern used to say, ‘Music is the only major where you finish your homework and then have to practice.’ Music in the heart. Know your goals, talk to musicians who have achieved those goals, have a plan, and always keep whatever music is important to you in your heart.”

Bonnie Edmondson, graduate coordinator and professor in the School Health Education program, has just finished a stint as head coach of the U.S. women’s track and field team at the World Championships, which ran Sept. 27-Oct. 7 in Doha, Qatar. This was her fifth World Championship, but her first as a head coach.

Read the Hartford Courant article by Lori Riley:

Coventry’s Bonnie Edmondson ready for her role as the U.S. women’s track and field coach at the World Championships

Art Professor Mia Brownell and her husband, Martin Kruck, a professor and Art Department chair at New Jersey City University, were both awarded sabbaticals last year. Their joint interest in Roman art and architecture lead them to both being awarded Visiting Artist at the American Academy in Rome during the month of October 2019. Their research took them to additional locations in Sicily and Malta. Artwork created during sabbatical by Brownell and Kruck is on display in a two-person exhibitionSkeptical Realism — at the Hunterdon Art Museum in Clinton, N.J., through January 2020. The exhibition opened this month.

According to the museum’s description of the exhibit, “Brownell’s series Plate to Platelet simultaneously draws on scientific images of platelets (tiny blood cells shaped like plates) and the history of the painted food still life. She explores the realism of eating by recognizing the entanglement between the consumerist idealization of food with its biological engineering and the molecular strains that then interact with our bodies. The space she paints attempts to capture this paradoxical perspective, one that is equally rational and fantastical, material and in constant flux, Brownell said. She encourages viewers to consider this question: If we are what we eat, what are we becoming?”

A sabbatical leave, CSU Research Grant, and Faculty Creative Activity Research Grant supported Brownell’s creative activity research during the 2018-2019 academic year.

In addition, Brownell’s painting Pear and Grape, oil on canvas, 2008, is featured in the group exhibit Foodie Fever at NYC’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice Shiva Gallery. This painting was also on display at the USA Department of State Embassy in Hong Kong during the Obama administration.

Her painting Passing Fruit, oil on canvas, 2008, was also featured in the exhibit Foodie Fever at NYC’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice Shiva Gallery.

Brownell’s painting Bird and Bees, oil on canvas, 2014, is featured on the cover of SCSU’s English professor Margot Schilpp’s new book of poetry Afterswarm.

Bird and Bees

The paintings below, as well as the painting featured at the top of this story, are all from Brownell’s sabbatical and are on display with many others at the Hunterdon Art Museum.

Music Professor Mark Kuss (right) with Music for Life International Director George Mathew

Music Professor Mark Kuss has been elected by the board of Music for Life International as interim chairman for the next 24 months. The organization’s treasurer and longtime board member, Kuss — a composer and digital entrepreneur as well as an educator — has served on the board with distinction since 2011 and as treasurer since 2013. In addition, he has generously shared his own artistry with Music for Life International over the years, as pianist, composer and arranger in several Music for Life International initiatives in the United States and abroad. Kuss will join Artistic Director George Mathew in a lecture-performance focusing on Music, Migration and Displacement this next week in Maastricht, in the Netherlands.

Since its founding in 2006, Music For Life International has pursued its mission to create transformative social impact through music for the most vulnerable human beings. Music for Life International Inc. (MFLI), which takes its name from the legendary MUSIC FOR LIFE concerts organized by Leonard Bernstein in the late 1980s at Carnegie Hall, was created to conceive and present musical concerts and related events to promote the awareness of significant international humanitarian crises and other public interest issues in the United States and throughout the world. MFLI, a registered 501(c)(3) tax-exempt not-for-profit organization, contributes the net-proceeds from its humanitarian concerts at Carnegie Hall to organizations directly addressing the crises and issues, which are the context for the concerts.

Kuss has received awards from the American Academy and the Institute of Arts and Letters, the N.E.A., the Jerome Foundation, Meet the Composer, A.S.C.A.P., the Copland Foundation and others. His work has been performed by the 21st Century Consort, the Folger Consort, the State Orchestra of Romania, at Merkin Hall, the 92nd Street Y, the MacDowell Colony, the Swannanoa Music Festival, the Monadnock Music Festival, San Francisco’s Composers Inc., the Vancouver Chamber Music Festival, and throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe.

 

 

 

✉️ Deliver to:

Dr. Barbara Aronson
Professor of Nursing & Ed.D. Coordinator
Department of Nursing


Dear Professor,

This past semester I was faced with a very stressful family event. While on campus to see my dissertation chair, you happened to see me waiting and inquired how I was doing. I am sure youdid not expect to hear the story I told youBut you listened with kindness and understanding. You offered some supportive suggestions to help me not only manage this time in my life, but to put my educational goals into perspective. Throughout this semester you have been a source of guidance. When faced with a decision to possibly withdraw from the program, you took it upon yourself to seek out a solution that I was not able to see. You have been a source of guidance during a time of darkness in my personal life. I find that I look to you for help, but also find that I want to prove to you that I can make it through this challenging time. I am grateful to have you as my advisor. You have gone out of your way to show me that having balance is essential. It is so apparent that you truly care.

Thank you,
Deborah Morrill


About Barbara Aronson

Favorite Teaching Moment(s):

Some of my most favorite teaching memories happen after the long process of helping my students write, conduct and defend their dissertations. As I watch them on the podium during the defense, nothing can match the pride I feel for my students, knowing how hard they have worked and the many obstacles and frustrations they have overcome. Being a part of their dissertation journey, and watching them transition from novice researchers to emerging scholars, is one of the most rewarding experiences I have had as a faculty member at SCSU.

Teaching Philosophy:

I believe good teaching is student-centered and grounded in evidence-based teaching practices and theories of teaching and learning. Excellent teachers set high expectations for students and encourage students to be active partners in their own learning and development as a practitioner or teacher/scholar. Providing prompt feedback to students and opportunities for ongoing student/faculty interaction and collaborative problem solving will prepare students to be innovators in their future practice. Active teaching practices encourage students to be self-directed and accountable for their learning. Teachers who role model professionalism, caring, curiosity, respect and humility in their teaching and interactions with students prepare students to extend the same virtues to their patients or students in their future practice.

Favorite Course to Teach:

One of my favorite courses to teach is Theories of Teaching and Learning in Adult and Higher Education. This is one of the very first courses our Ed.D. in Nursing Education students take in the program. While they are understandably overwhelmed by the amount of work in the course, they quickly come to realize how helpful learning about educational theories can be to them in their role as academic nurse educators. What is most gratifying to me as a teacher is to hear how they are using what they are learning each week to improve their teaching. As one student said, “The knowledge and understanding of adult learning theory I gained in this class has had a tremendous impact on my teaching and course design. I have begun to incorporate the different theories into my class presentations. I now see the students as a unique, multi-generational, multicultural set of learners. This course has also shifted my framework from my teaching to student learning.”

Recent Courses Taught:

  • NUR 432: Adult Responses to Complex Health Problems
  • NUR 443: Nursing Capstone
  • NUR 801: Theories of Teaching and Learning in Adult and Higher Education
  • NUR 803: Curriculum Development, Implementation, and Evaluation in Nursing
  • NUR 813: Dissertation Seminar I
  • NUR 814: Dissertation Seminar II
  • NUR 817: Continuing Dissertation Advisement

Christine Caragianis Broadbridge, Ph.D., professor of physics and executive director of research and innovation at Southern Connecticut State University, has been appointed vice president of the Connecticut Academy of Science & Engineering. Broadbridge will serve as vice president through June 30, 2020, with the Council’s recommendation that her name be submitted for election by the membership for President (2020 – 2022) and Past President (2022 – 2024).

Broadbridge began her faculty career at Trinity College. In 1998, she was appointed Visiting Fellow in Electrical Engineering at Yale University and in 2000 joined the Physics Department at Southern. She has been a principal investigator or co-principal investigator on ten National Science Foundation projects and a researcher on many others, including grants from NASA, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and the U.S. Department of Energy. Broadbridge participated in the establishment and is a researcher and education director for the Center for Research on Interface Structures and Phenomena (CRISP) at Yale/SCSU and is the director for the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities Center for Nanotechnology. Throughout her career she has implemented numerous industry workforce initiatives, most recently BioScience Academic and Career Pathway Initiative (BioPath) and the New Haven Manufacturer’s Association Summer Teachers’ Institute.

An active member of the Academy since her election in 2008, she chairs the Membership Committee, serves on the Development and Advocacy Committee, and was elected to the Council in 2016.

“I am honored to continue working with such a distinguished and dedicated group of scientists and engineers from Connecticut’s academic, industrial, and public sector communities,” said Broadbridge. “The work that the Academy does adds value to the state of Connecticut from promoting science education for K-12 students and the citizens of Connecticut to providing expert advice on issues of science and technology.”

Broadbridge has a B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Rhode Island, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in engineering from Brown University. At Brown, she conducted research in the fields of materials science, physics and nanotechnology. Selected awards include the 2006 Connecticut Technology Council’s Woman of Innovation Award for Academic Leadership and the 2014 Connecticut Materials and Manufacturing Professional of the Year Award. Broadbridge was a Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame Honoree in 2008 for Outstanding Women of Science in Academia and was a Connecticut Science Center STEM Achievement Award nominee in 2016. She is a member of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of Sigma Pi Sigma and Tau Beta Pi (national honor societies for physics and engineering respectively).

The Connecticut Academy of Science & Engineering is a nonprofit, 501(c)3 institution patterned after the National Academy of Sciences to provide expert guidance on science and technology to the people and to the state of Connecticut, and to promote the application of science and technology to social and economic well being. The Academy’s 400+ members include leading scientists, physicians, engineers, and mathematics who are experts in a wide range of science and technology-related fields.

As of August 2019, Public Health Professor Michele Vancour has accepted a two-year position as interim associate dean for the School of Health and Human Services.

Vancour earned her B.A. in English from CCSU, an MPH from Southern, and her Ph.D. in health education from NYU. In 1998 she began her career at Southern as an assistant professor in the Department of Public Health and Founding Director of the SCSU Wellness Center. During her tenure at Southern, Vancour has established herself as an outstanding teacher, scholar, mentor, and leader. She has served in several major leadership roles, including 8 years as the undergraduate program coordinator for Public Health and most recently as the director of Faculty Development. Her list of service activities is extensive, and includes founder of the Childcare committee, Work-Life Advisory Committee, Southern’s Chapter of the CT ACE Women’s Network, and membership or chair positions with more than 30 different groups on our campus.

Headshot Photo of Michele VancourVancour earned tenure and promotion to professor in the Department of Public Health, received the Outstanding Academic Advisor Award, Robert E. Jirsa Award for Service, and the Distinguished Academic Woman in Higher Education Leadership Award from the CT ACE Women’s Network.

She has an extensive list of professional presentations and publications in her areas of expertise, which include: motherhood, maternal health, breastfeeding support, women’s health, and work-life balance. She is highly respected in her profession having served as president and board member for the College and University Work/Family/Life Association, chair and board member for the Connecticut Breastfeeding Coalition, and board member and committee chair for the CT ACE Women’s Network.

Adding Vancour’s talents to the HHS Dean’s office will allow the School to expand its support for students, department chairs, and coordinators. Vancour will take the lead to support chairs with course schedules and administrative processes related to student enrollment. She will also design and facilitate professional development for HHS faculty and staff, coordinate furniture decisions for offices and collaboration spaces in the new building, monitor implementation of marketing and recruitment efforts for HHS programs, and serve as a resource for program accreditation and new program development.

 

David Pettigrew in front of the “White House” at Omarska concentration camp where prisoners were tortured and killed. The flowers that were laid at the white house were in memory of the approximately 700 who were murdered there. The plaque on the left has details about the camp, the 3,000 detainees, and the 700 murdered. The plaque on the right is from a group of friends from Serbia, which reads Omarska, “Never Again.”

For more than a decade, Philosophy Professor David Pettigrew has been advocating for the victims of atrocities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence from Yugoslavia on March 1, 1992, triggering a secessionist bid by the country’s Serbs backed by the Yugoslavian capital, Belgrade, and a war that left about 100,000 dead, including the mass slaughter of many Bosnian Muslims by Serb forces. In addition, the crimes committed at the town of Srebrenica have been ruled to be genocide.

While all his efforts are part of a personal commitment to human rights and social justice, Pettigrew’s work on Bosnia also has an academic dimension, expressed through his lectures, publications, film screenings, and other work. He also teaches a holocaust and genocide studies course at Southern.

This summer, Pettigrew again visited the Balkans, and was interviewed Aug. 22 by the Radio Sarajevo’s Benjamin Redžić on topics including the issues of genocide denial; the prospects for reconciliation in the region, and the rise of the far right and neo-fascism in Europe and the potential for further genocidal actions. The English transcript appears below:

1. Last month, the Supreme Court of the Netherlands ruled that the state was partly responsible for the deaths of 350 residents in the town of Srebrenica. How do you comment on this judgment?

I find the Judgment of the Supreme Court of the Netherlands in this case to be woefully inadequate. The judgment seems to rest on a very narrow conception of “liability”. The Judgment, in the end, concerned only those 350 men who were forcibly expelled–by Dutchbat (a Dutch battalion that was part of a United Nations peacekeeping force in the region) — from the refuge of the battery factory. After being expelled, the men were separated from the women and children, and were eventually executed. This liability for 350 men can be seen as inappropriately limited because the Dutchbat unit was, according to its assignment, responsible for the Srebrenica “safe area” that had been so designated by United Nations Resolution 819. If the Dutchbat unit was responsible for the safe area then the Dutch government should be responsible for all of the victims of the Srebrenica genocide, and not only 350 victims as this Judgment concludes.

However, the Judgment would only find the State liable for those actions of Dutchbat for which the State had “effective control.” The Judgment determined that the Dutch government’s “effective control” was limited to the time following the fall of Srebrenica when civilians sought refuge on the Dutchbat base. For example, the Dutch State was not held liable for the failure to insure that convoys with humanitarian aid would reach the safe area, for the fall of Srebrenica, for the Dutchbat abandonment of their “blocking positions” or for surrendering their weapons.

The liability of the Dutch government is further limited by what I consider to be a perverse calculus. The judgments (of the District Court, the Appeals Court, and the Supreme Court) found that Dutchbat unit acted wrongfully in expelling the men from the base, negatively affecting the men’s chance of survival. The Courts found moreover that the Dutch government should be held responsible for this wrongful act. However, the final judgment of the degree of liability is based on an assumption that the men would have had only had a 10% chance of survival even if they had remained inside the battery factory. The Court of Appeal had judged the State’s liability to be 30%, but now it has been reduced to 10%, by the Supreme Court of the Netherlands.

However my position is that the Dutchbat unit, and thus the Dutch government, should have been assessed to be fully liable for the 350 men as well as any women and children who were subsequently murdered following their expulsion from the base. Further, given the fact that they failed to protect the Srebrenica enclave, I believe the Dutchbat unit and the Dutch government should be liable, to some degree, for failing to protect the 8,372 victims who were murdered by the Bosnian Serb and Serbian forces. The Judgments in 2014, 2017, and 2019, have seemed to be primarily concerned with limiting and avoiding responsibility rather than holding Dutchbat and the Dutch government accountable. Frankly, I believe that approach is shameful. The only redeeming virtue of the judgment is that it found that Dutchbat acted wrongfully in expelling the men from the base, and that the government was financially liable for that wrongful act. This fact seemed to provide some consolation to the Mothers of Srebrenica whose loved ones were murdered.

But perhaps such a limited conception of liability is not entirely unexpected given the constraints on other legal processes related to the genocide and other war crimes. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), for example, achieved a very small number of genocide convictions, and only a handful of life sentences. In general, the ICTY handed down relatively lenient sentences, and allowed early release for many of the convicted.

These limits introduced as part of the formal legal process, whether at the ICTY or the Dutch court system, show the need for alternative approaches to support the survivors through restorative or reparative justice. Serbia and Republika Srpska should be held responsible for the Srebrenica genocide. Their leaders should recognize the genocide and provide compensation for the survivors.

2. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, there are those who believe that denying genocide must be sanctioned by law. Recently, High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina Valentin Inzko said that this may happen soon. Are you a proponent of this idea?

I have been recommending for years that genocide denial should be criminalized and prosecuted in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a concrete step toward state-building and toward regional stabilization. This would require the creation of a national law prohibiting genocide denial. So it was indeed encouraging to hear the High Representative state, on July 11, that he was working to implement a law on genocide denial and that he hoped it would be in place by July 11, 2020, coinciding with the 25th anniversary commemoration of the Srebrenica genocide. It is not clear how he would do so since he has avoided using his wide-ranging “BONN” powers until now, except in certain cases when he lifted bans on politicians. Further, as soon as news of the High Representative’s comment was publicized, Milorad Dodik suggested that a law against genocide denial would bring new efforts for the secession of Republika Srpska.

Nonetheless, this is a profoundly important goal and I am definitely a proponent of criminalizing Srebrenica genocide denial in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Such a law against genocide denial would recognize and respect the legal rulings of the international courts that have judged the crimes committed at Srebrenica to be genocide. In addition, as in the case of laws against Holocaust denial, such a law would respect the memory of the victims. One hopes that such a law would prevent the kind of casual and routine denial of the genocide that occurs in Republika Srpska and Serbia, denial that is intended to cause psychological harm to the victims, prevent refugee return, and destabilize Bosnia and the region. Such a law would also presumably delegitimize the Commission on the Srebrenica genocide that has been formed by Republika Srpska.

But what complicates this discussion is that Bosnian Serbs have been convicted of war crimes other than genocide. So I believe there should be a more comprehensive law against the denial of those other crimes, such crimes against humanity, or violations of the laws and customs of war. Republika Srpska also formed a commission last year to study “the truth” about the siege of Sarajevo, which is a form of revisionist history and denial. But with respect to the siege of Sarajevo, Radovan Karadžić, for example, was convicted of the crimes of murder, unlawful attacks on civilians, and terror, as violations of the laws or customs of war, and of murder as a crime against humanity.

In addition to the law against genocide denial I believe there should be a national law against the glorification of convicted war criminals.

David Pettigrew in the private Muslim cemetery (Stražište cemetery) in Višegrad, where the Bosnian Serb authorities had ground/removed the word “genocida” from the memorial, and Pettigrew was restoring the term in a protest in March 2014. Photograph by Marketá Slavková.

3. The last few days have been the focus of regional publicity for the anniversary of Operation ‘Storm’. For Croatia, this was a key fight in defense against the aggressor. For Serbia, it was ethnic cleansing. What was Operation ‘Storm’?

“Operation Storm” seems to have a complicated place in the history of military offensives. I still remember reading the news reports of Operation Storm when I was in Italy at that time. Essentially it was a counter offensive launched in August 1995 with the aim of regaining territory lost in the Krajina and elsewhere. Further, there is a certain extent to which Operation Storm allowed Bosnian forces to regain momentum in a push to the east toward Banja Luka. I think the analysis is difficult today because there is an unfortunate extent to which the recent commemoration of Operation Storm comes during a time of the resurgence of ultra-nationalism within Croatia. One should also recall that prior to the joint efforts surrounding and following Operation Storm, the Croatian forces committed atrocities against Bosniaks and their culture in Western Bosnia as part of their goal to establish a kind of “greater Croatia” in Western Bosnia; a “Herzeg-Bosnia”. The accused in the Prlić case were convicted of war crimes as part of a joint criminal enterprise aimed at the creation and operation of Herzeg-Bosnia within Bosnia. Whatever its virtues might have been for reversing Serb aggression both in Croatia and Bosnia, the commemoration of Operation Storm in Croatia and the ensuing discussion obscures the fact that there were two main international aggressors against Bosnia from 1992-1995: Croatia and Serbia, a bilateral aggression whose legacy continues to destabilize the region and to delay Bosnia’s access to the EU and NATO.

4. Will true reconciliation between the peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina or the Balkans occur when everyone acknowledges that someone has committed crimes on their behalf?

I still remember Munira Subašić stating at a conference in Sarajevo, in 2005, that there would be no reconciliation without justice. And part of achieving a sense of justice would be for the political leaders of Republika Srpska and Serbia to disassociate themselves from their ultranationalist predecessors who organized and committed war crimes. Further–as you suggest–the achievement of justice would require that they recognize the crimes that were committed in the most public way possible, and also empathize with the suffering of the victims and the survivors. Given the rising tensions in the region, this is a time when we need genuine leaders to emerge — statesmen and stateswomen — who would take responsibility for what occurred, express remorse, and work to foster the reconciliation that is so sorely needed. The destabilizing situation in Bosnia stems precisely from the outright denial, by political leaders in Republika Srpska and in Serbia, that genocide and other war crimes were committed. Milorad Dodik has said that the Srebrenica genocide and the siege of Sarajevo will not be taught in schools in Republika Srpska because they did not happen. The Prime Minister of Serbia, Ana Brnabić, refuses to acknowledge the Srebrenica genocide.

I believe that the High Representative should condemn the discriminatory prohibition against memorials for the victims in Republika Srpska. Memorials for the victims are prohibited but memorials for the perpetrators permeate the landscape in Republika Srpska. The High Representative has not seemed to be very effective but he nonetheless has the responsibility for overseeing the peace. He should take initiatives to encourage reconciliation by facilitating the installation of memorials for the victims in locations where they have been prohibited in Republika Srpska, such as in the Prijedor area. There is a memorial to the perpetrators, for example, at the site of Trnopolje concentration camp, and a Bosnian Serb Veterans Association has occupied one of the camp buildings and established a memorial room there. At the same time, survivors are not permitted to install a memorial at Omarska. This year, in an act of resistance, the organizers displayed a temporary plaque and set up a temporary memorial in the White House where prisoners were tortured and murdered. But they should be allowed to install a permanent plaque and a permanent museum in memory of the victims. This is a human rights violation and a violation of Annex 7 that needs to be addressed by the High Representative.

It was an honor for me to participate in the commemoration at Omarska this year on August 6. I gave a speech at the commemoration in which I pledged my continued efforts to insuring that a permanent plaque and a permanent memorial museum will be installed in memory of the victims and the survivors. This is a matter of basic human decency that must be resolved. Providing for memorials for the victims would be acts of justice that would provide the possibility of reconciliation. Giving up in this effort is not an option.

Pettigrew speaking at the commemoration program at Omarska in August 2019. Photo credit: Satko Mujagić.

5. As we await reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the rest of the region, far-right or neo-fascist policies are strengthening in the Western world. What is the cause? Should we be afraid? How to combat this?

The continuing rise of far-right and neo-fascist political parties across Europe is a matter of great concern. From “Alternative for Deutschland” in Germany (AfD) and “Freedom Party of Austria,” to the “Movement for a Better Hungary,” to the “National Front” in France, to the “Golden Dawn” in Greece, these parties are white supremacist, anti- immigrant and anti-Muslim in their core beliefs. Similar parties and movements have emerged from the south in Italy to the Scandinavian countries in the north. We have learned that human beings are highly susceptible to political propaganda. From Hitler to Pol Pot, from Slobodan Milosevic to Hutu Power leaders in Rwanda, propaganda and hate speech have been effective tools to turn a population against a perceived threat. The consequences have been catastrophic. The perceived threat in Europe today–the one that is created and manipulated by the far-right–seems to be the arrival of immigrants from the Middle East and Africa. In the past decade there have been anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim terrorist attacks, for example, in Norway and in New Zealand, in which the terrorists were inspired, in part, by Serbian ultra-nationalism and specifically by Radovan Karadžić. It was disturbing and tragic when in the days following the Ravnogorski movement marching in Višegrad March 10, 2019, there was a terrorist attack on the Mosques in New Zealand. While the Ravnogorski movement may not have the influence of the other far right parties mentioned earlier, Serbian ultra-nationalism has had a clear influence on anti-immigrant movements and violence in Europe.

Yes we should be concerned. We need to respond to the “far right” and to the “neo Fascists” by clearly articulating and defending our own core values regarding the crucial importance of human rights, of religious and cultural diversity, of democracy, and of the rule of law, for a peaceful and humane future. In some cases, especially in Bosnia, extremist groups, such as Ravnogorski Pokret, should not be permitted to gather and march in places such as Višegrad where their uniforms, chants, and songs are psychologically harmful to survivors and threaten further violence.

6. After the Holocaust, it was said: it will never happen again. After the genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the same was said. So it happened again. By when will it be repeated?

Genocide does not occur in a vacuum. The preparation for genocide takes time, and requires ultranationalist propaganda and dehumanizing hate speech that develop over time, provoking fear and hatred of a targeted group within a society. Propaganda and hate speech are usually wielded by opportunistic, ultranationalist politicians, who gain followers and influence through such tactics.

In the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina, such propaganda and hate speech has been referred to as the rhetoric, politics, or discourse “of the 90s.” However, it is a matter of grave concern that due to the inaction of the Office of the High Representative, ultranationalist rhetoric has emerged once again. Today we see genocide denial, and the glorification of war criminals in Republika Srpska, practices that condone and even celebrate the war crimes that were committed. Hariz Halilović has written that such a celebration of genocide is a new stage of genocide that he refers to as “triumphalism.”

This “triumphalism” in Republika Srpska that celebrates the genocide condones the violence and suggests that the crimes could be repeated. This is a threat to the peace to which the High Representative needs to respond decisively.