School of Arts and Sciences

Alumna wins the "Oscars of Teaching," becoming the first Milken Educator Award recipient of the 2019-20 season.

A group of students come in for a group hug to support their award-winning teacher.
Excited students swarm Sepulveda for a group hug. Photo: Milken Family Foundation

Social studies teacher Lauren Sepulveda, ’10, entered the gym prepared for an upbeat but typical morning assembly at Clinton Avenue School in New Haven. Instead she received the surprise of a lifetime when her name was announced as the first recipient of the 2019-20 Milken Education Award and its $25,000 prize. Watch Sepulveda receive the award.

Hailed by Teacher magazine as the “Oscars of Teaching,” the Milken Educator Awards are designed to “celebrate, elevate, and activate the American teaching profession.” It is not a lifetime achievement award. Instead, the recipients are recognized for exceptional mid-career achievements — and the promise of what they might accomplish given the resources provided with the award.

Jane Foley, senior vice president of the Milken Educator Awards, made the presentation to a shocked Sepulveda in front of a cheering crowd of students, colleagues, and local and state officials. “Lauren Sepulveda brings history to life by demonstrating how past events have shaped our nation, world, and people today. Students develop a greater understanding of the responsibilities as global citizens and lifelong learners,” said Foley.

Sepulveda, who earned a B.S. in history 7-12 at Southern is the sole award recipient in Connecticut. Nationwide, no more than 40 educators will be honored during the 2019-20 season.

Sepulveda, who teaches seventh and eighth grade, was lauded for efforts to help her students become global thinkers and empathetic citizens. In her classroom, students have met guest speakers who share personal stories of their experiences during World War II, the Korean War, and the Rwandan genocide. Another assignment challenged students to review coverage of the Revolutionary War in their text books — and determine whose perspectives were missing. The students next drafted a new chapter that included the stories of significant minorities. Sepulveda then helped the students submit their work to the text book publisher for consideration for the next edition.

In addition to the cash prize, the award includes networking and mentoring components. Sepulveda will join the other 2019-20 honorees at an all-expenses-paid trip to the Milken Educator Forum in Indianapolis from March 26-28, to connect with other educational trailblazers. In addition, each 2019 recipient will be paired with a veteran Milken Educator mentor.

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.

The MFA Program will officially celebrate its 10th anniversary at an alumni reading and reception on Friday, October 4, at 7 p.m., in Engleman A120. The reading will feature Ryan Leigh Dostie, author of the memoir Formation, and Martina “Mick” Powell, author of the poetry chapbook, chronicle the body.

Once upon a time, Southern Connecticut State University didn’t have a master of fine arts in creative writing program. But for the past decade, the university’s MFA program has been attracting and educating writers who have found success in publishing their work, as well as in related arenas such as teaching and editing. The program is a quiet powerhouse, its graduates’ work winning prizes and finding its way into countless literary journals, onto best-seller lists, and into the hands of eager readers. It’s also the only full-residency program of its kind in Connecticut.

“When I first got here in 1994 and found out there was no MFA program at all in Connecticut, I was extremely surprised,” says English Professor Tim Parrish, one of the program’s founders. “I realized we had the quality of writing students here at Southern who could get MFAs, but because we didn’t have a program here, we had to send many of our creative writing undergrads to MFA programs in other states just in the first few years I was here.”

Parrish, who teaches fiction and memoir writing to undergraduates and graduates and is himself the author of three books, decided to propose an MFA program at Southern, to give his undergraduate writing students a way to continue their work at the university while earning the MFA degree. The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is the terminal degree in its field, similar to a Ph.D., and qualifies those who hold the degree to teach creative writing at the university level, among other types of positions. The university already offered a master’s degree in English, in which students could concentrate in creative writing, but bringing an MFA program to Southern would benefit student writers in ways the master’s concentration could not.

Parrish presented his first proposal to the English Department in 1997 — “just a sketch of an idea for an MFA program” he says – and the department supported it. In 2002, Parrish and English Professor Jeff Mock, a poet, wrote the first formal proposal. In 2004, fiction writer Robin Troy joined the English Department faculty, and together, Parrish, Mock, and Troy began rewriting the proposal. “We finally got it approved in 2009 and brought in the first class of MFA students that same year,” says Parrish.

“We started out with poets mostly, and a couple of fiction writers,” Parrish says. “The next year we started getting a lot more out-of-state students. I thought we’d be serving primarily Connecticut residents, but we became a national program. We had a really good word-of-mouth reputation.”

Troy, the author of two novels, recalls that when she first came to Southern, Parrish had already done “much of the heavy lifting” to get the MFA program off the ground, “and I got to arrive in time to join the fun. Sure, we still had a lot of work to do on the proposal, and presenting our program to the chancellor in Hartford, but the fundamental work of convincing our university why we should have an MFA program had already been done.” She calls Parrish “our hero, the true heart behind the program, without whom it never would have gotten off the ground.”

Troy explains that nationally, MFA programs generally are small, but are also highly competitive and very popular. These programs “undeniably bring an identity to their university,” Troy says, “and our program was no exception. MFA programs attract students full of heart and passion, and we felt that in our program at SCSU from the start. To me, bringing that kind of intense, passionate, terminal-degree program to a university is priceless.”

Parrish agrees, adding that a key ingredient in the program’s success is that it is a teaching community that is both very accessible and supportive to students. The MFA faculty develop close mentorships with students, Parrish says. “We try to help them realize their vision as writers – we meet them where they are.”

Troy adds that the MFA experience at SCSU extends far beyond the classroom, to one-on-one mentoring, after-class gatherings, on- and off-campus readings, events in New Haven, conference attendance across the country, and celebrating each other at thesis readings and in parties in people’s homes. “All of this contributed to our momentum in building a program that has clearly gained recognition for Southern as a whole,” she says.

English Professor Vivian Shipley, a CSU Professor and a highly-acclaimed poet, also speaks warmly about her mentoring relationships with her MFA students. “I have been lucky enough to have the program’s  wonderful students in my MFA poetry workshops, and I am honored to be a part of it,” Shipley says, adding that she is especially proud of the students who chose her to direct their MFA poetry thesis and published a book as a result of the thesis, among them Lori DeSanti, Christine Beck, Pat Mottola, Brendan Walsh, Lynn Houston, and Mick Powell. Many of the rest of Shipley’s students have published extensively in major national journals and are now professors themselves. “So,” she says, “my teaching life has been enriched by the efforts of Tim Parrish and all he has done for the MFA.”

Parrish agrees with Shipley that Southern’s MFA grads “have had a lot of poetry books come out, and we’re starting to get more on the fiction and memoir side.” He says his initial instincts about the Southern’s creative writing students were correct – many of them have published books, some have become professors, and one made the New York Times bestseller list.

“People don’t have to come here as stars,” he says, “because we’re interested in folks who have a passion for literature and studying literature and who want to become better writers.” And that is clearly happening.

On campus, Parrish says, MFA students have a reputation for being smart and reliable. They’re in demand for working in departments around campus. Several students have become teaching interns and develop mentor/mentee relationships with undergrads. Interns work with full-time faculty in the classroom and learn from them, and in the process develop their own pedagogy. “People come out of our program and teach in others,” says Parrish, pointing to another example of the program’s success. He gives as examples creative writing alumni Sheila Squillante, now the MFA program director at Chatham University; Jeff Voccola, now a professor of creative writing at Cuttstown University; and Lisa Mangini, who now teaches at Penn State.

Assistant Professor of English Rachel Furey, the program’s newest faculty member, says that the internship program is helpful for faculty, too, as having another person in the classroom can bring a fresh perspective to familiar material. Furey came to Southern in 2016 to teach fiction, and she enjoys the age diversity of students within the MFA program and the variety in the writing that her students do. “They’re not afraid to experiment a lot with their writing,” she says, “and this is good for me to see, as a writer myself.” Furey also points to the sense of community among the MFA students and faculty as one of the program’s strongest points.

Troy speaks nostalgically about the program, having left Southern in 2014 and now co-directing the Beargrass Writers Workshop in Missoula, Montana. “We just had so much fun together,” she says. “We represented such a range of ages and life experiences, all coming together with the common goal of making our varied, colorful voices heard. There was such a mutual respect among us, such a lack of pretension — and a shared feeling of never to want to say good-bye. I love seeing how our grads, even if they’ve moved on to different jobs or states, still stay in touch and circle back to Southern and each other. Ten years might sound like a long time, but it’s actually just a blink, and in that blink the MFA faculty at Southern has created a competitive, spirited program with real legs and heart. I’m proud to have been a part of it.”

RSVP for the October 4 MFA alumni reading and reception.

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.

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.

Although women comprise more than half of all bachelor’s degree recipients and represent a majority of those holding professional occupation positions, they continue to trail their male counterparts in computing jobs and degrees, according to the National Center for Women & Information Technology.

But Southern is working hard to help spark a greater gender balance in computer science – both in the classroom and in the workplace.

The NCWIT is a non-profit community chartered by the National Science Foundation that seeks to help increase the participation of girls and women in computing. The organization reports that in 2016, women made up 57 percent of bachelor’s degree recipients, but only 19 percent of all recipients of computer and information sciences bachelor’s degrees. Similarly, women hold about 57 percent of professional occupation positions, but only 26 percent of professional computing posts, according to NCWIT.

During the last four years, SCSU has been one of NCWIT’s Pacesetters, organizations that are helping lead the way toward building greater opportunities for girls and women in computing. In fact, NCWIT recently awarded SCSU a $10,000 grant to assist with those efforts.

Efforts by SCSU to spark greater interest in computing by female students also include:

*Coordination of various events and programs for pre-college students, such as a two-week coding camp for girls aged 14 to 19.

*Sponsorship and preparation of a grade 6 team at Dunbar Hill School in Hamden that competed in the Technovation Challenge. The Hamden team made it to the semi-finals, one of 134 teams worldwide to do so among nearly 2,000 teams of girls that compete to solve real-world problems using technology. The team came to the SCSU campus once a week for three months to develop their idea, code their app and pitch it.

Lisa Lancor, chairwoman of the SCSU Computer Science Department who is coordinating the university’s efforts in these projects, said SCSU is making significant strides toward increasing the percentage of women enrolled in computing at Southern.

In the fall of 2013, only 10 percent of the university’s computer science majors were women. That has increased to 16 percent as of last fall with a goal of rising to 25 percent by 2022.

“The ratio would be even higher except for the fact that we are also seeing a major increase in the number of men majoring in computer science at Southern,” Lancor said. “But we have seen the actual number of female computer science majors increase by 91 percent since 2013, and 25 percent just in the last year alone.”

Lancor recalled that it was just two years ago when out of the 70 or so incoming freshmen who declared computer science as a major, zero were women.

“Women were only coming to the major as transfer students or students who were already here and decided to change their majors – not from incoming freshmen,” she said.  “As a result, we started reaching out to local high schools and middle schools, and their school counselors, and told them about all of the opportunities in technology. This is certainly beginning to help.  We were shocked to learn that many high school teachers and counselors were not aware of computer science as a career. Many thought it was just about gaming.”

Lancor said that by bringing more women to the table, the design and development of computer software will truly be inclusive. She said the first car airbag system is a good example of failure due to lack of inclusivity. “Airbag systems were designed to protect tall, heavy passengers — mirroring the majority of manufacturers and designers at the time, who were men. Apparently, it didn’t occur to them they should be designing for people unlike themselves,” she said.

“The more diversity there is in the process of developing technology, the better technology will serve its users – all users,” she said.

 

 

Following a national search, Dr. Therese Bennett has been appointed as the associate dean for STEM in the School of Arts and Sciences.

Bennett joined Southern in 1996 as a full-time assistant professor in the Mathematics Department. In 2001, she was tenured and promoted to associate professor. Six years later, Bennett was promoted to professor of mathematics. Between 2010-2016, she served as department chairperson. Bennett has also served as co-director of the LEP with distinction and has worked tirelessly to ensure the seamless transfer of hundreds of students to Southern.

Dr. Therese Bennett

She earned a B.S. at Temple University and an M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Pittsburgh.

Bennett brings a wealth of institutional knowledge to the associate deanship position and will work closely with the associate dean for the liberal arts and the dean of arts and sciences to advance the mission of the School and the University.

Bennett’s first day will be August 30.

✉️ Deliver to:

Dr. Meredith Sinclair
Assistant Professor of English
Department of English


Dear Professor,

Thank you for devoting countless hours to advising your students, formally and informally, and guiding us to the best options, particularly in the teaching field. Your strongly held belief in the transformative effect of good teaching inspires me to seek what’s best for me, and for future generations. You extended your advising through the student group Urban Education Fellows. By helping us develop a mission in urban schools, you make education more than a matter or a career.


About Meredith Sinclair

Favorite Teaching Moment:

I most love when students ask questions I don’t have an immediate answer for. I try in my pedagogy to support students in being curious and being comfortable with discomfort. When they do spring the tough questions and then engage in the intellectual work of sorting through answers—that’s a really great feeling.

Teaching Philosophy:

It’s important for students to understand their purpose for being in an educational space and to be truly invested in the work (instead of being there because they have to be). I’m always looking for new ways to engage students in dialogue—with the work, with classmates, and with their own thinking—to help them find that purpose. I have to model this, too, of course. I’m always rethinking how a course looks, what assignments we do and so on, and try to be transparent with students about that process so that together we learn how to build challenging intellectual spaces. Above all, I think we have to have true care for and interest in our students as human beings.

Favorite Course to Teach:

ENG 492, which is a course focused on reading pedagogy, is my favorite course to teach because that’s my primary area of research and a particular passion. I also love EDU 413 because I get to introduce pre-service teachers from all disciplines to some of the fundamentals of the profession. My Young Adult Literature class (ENG 372) has taught me a lot and has been an exciting course to design. I always love the energy I get from working with our English pre-service teachers during student teaching (ENG 496).

Recent Courses Taught:

  • ENG 372: Young Adult Literature
  • ENG 496: Student Teaching Seminar (English)
  • EDU 413: Secondary Teaching