Philosophy Professor and Chair David Pettigrew, who specializes in topics related to the genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina, has been honored with one of the most prestigious faculty recognition awards given by the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) System.
At a June meeting of the CSCU Board of Regents, Pettigrew was named a Connecticut State University Professor for his excellence in the areas of research, teaching, and service.
Southern, Central, Western, and Eastern Connecticut State universities can each have up to three such professors. Pettigrew fills a Southern vacancy left by the recent retirement of Vivian Shipley, professor of English. He joins Elliott Horch, professor of physics, and Troy Paddock, professor of history, as part of Southern’s contingent of CSU Professors.
Pettigrew was recommended for the award by Southern’s CSU Professorship Advisory Committee, chaired by Chemistry Professor Adiel Coca, who wrote in the committee’s recommendation that they were “very impressed with Dr. Pettigrew’s accomplishments and his commitment to SCSU.”
Former SCSU President Joe Bertolino, in supporting the committee’s recommendation, said, “During his long and distinguished career at Southern, which spans 36 years, Pettigrew has developed an international reputation for his research and human rights activities related to the genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“As part of this work, he has delivered lectures around the world and authored book chapters, journal articles, and op-ed essays. He has corresponded with world leaders regarding human rights violations in the region and for the last several years has campaigned inside Bosnia and from his desk in New Haven for the implementation of a law forbidding the authorities to engage in genocide denial. Locally, his efforts to assist schools to implement the Connecticut Holocaust and Genocide act are also notable.”
Pettigrew’s candidacy for CSU Professor was also supported by letters from several scholars, from within the Southern community and beyond. Hariz Halilovich, Ph.D., professor of social anthropology, School of Global, Urban, and Social Studies, RMIT University in Australia, wrote, “Professor Pettigrew’s work has been singled out for recognition in the new book Bosnian Studies: Perspectives From An Emerging Field (2023). In their introduction, the editors recognize Pettigrew’s ‘unmatched contribution to Bosnian Studies.’ They emphasize that Pettigrew is among a select group of non-Bosnian scholars whose work ‘remains required reading for students writing about and studying Bosnia.’”
Indeed, Pettigrew is often called upon to comment upon the genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the right to memorialization for the survivors of the genocide and other war crimes. In June 2023, he delivered a lecture at an event at the Prague Security Studies Institute entitled “Western Balkans at the Crossroads: Democratic Backsliding and External Actors’ Influence”; he spoke about the need for transitional justice in Bosnia, the right to memorialization, the need for democratic reforms, and the malign influence of the Russian Federation.
While in the Balkans, Pettigrew also presented two other lectures, one in Sarajevo on July 2 for KRUG 99, and another in Sarajevo on July 9 at an international conference entitled “Why Remember?: Tracing the Past.” He was interviewed by Al Jazeera Balkans TV on two different issues, and for a feature program on Hayat TV, and he was also interviewed for a report by Voice of America on the lack of support for victims of conflict-related sexual violence in Bosnia. He also attended a conference at Srebrenica Memorial Center on July 10 as well as the commemoration of the Srebrenica Genocide on July 11.
A recipient of the SCSU Faculty Scholar Award in 2000, Pettigrew is a prolific scholar and editor.
He has co-edited three books in the area of contemporary French and German philosophy and psychoanalysis, translated nine books, and authored 13 book chapters, three research articles, seven book chapter translations, one article translation, and dozens of op-ed essays during his tenure at Southern.
Pettigrew’s service to the university and his profession has been exemplary. He served on the University Promotion and Tenure Committee for nearly two decades, including terms as Committee Chairperson from 2009-2012 and 2013-2020. He has also been a member of the SCSU Faculty Academic Strategic Planning Committee since 2002, often as chair, and he was a member of the Faculty Senate from 1997-1999 and 2004-2020. In 2016, he was the recipient of the Robert Jirsa Service Award for his outstanding service to the university.
Pettigrew has taught several Philosophy, Judaic Studies, and Honors College courses over his career. In 2013 he created an LEP Tier II Global Awareness writing intensive course — JST 204 W, “An Introduction to Holocaust and Genocide Studies” – and has been teaching it for about 10 years. He also teaches PHI 270, “Philosophy of Education” (an LEP Tier 2 Cultural Expressions course) often, as well as several senior-level philosophy courses.
Commenting on his selection as CSU Professor, Pettigrew said, “I am grateful to the CSU Professorship Advisory Committee for recommending me for this honor, and to the Provost and President for their support. When word reached me of their recommendation, I was humbled and overwhelmed, in part because I am well aware of the outstanding work of many of my colleagues who are also deserving of such a distinction. I also thank my esteemed colleague Dr. Xiaomei Yang for nominating me.”
He continued, “I look forward to continuing my work with teachers in Connecticut as they respond to the law requiring the inclusion of Holocaust and Genocide education and awareness in the social studies curriculum in the public schools. I have been inspired by the dedication of the teachers. Now the new law designating July 11 as Bosnian Genocide Remembrance Day in Connecticut will create new opportunities for workshops and curriculum initiatives.”