Today: Jun 17, 2024

Pettigrew wins award for teaching career

Braden Saint-Val – Contributor

Southern now has three CSU professors, including Elliott Horch, Physics Chairperson; and Troy Paddock, History professor.

Entering his 37th year as a philosophy professor and his first year as the philosophy department’s chairperson, David Pettigrew has gained a reputation for his research, teaching, and public service. 

This past June, Pettigrew was named a Connecticut State University Professor at a meeting of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities Board of Regents for his long-running contributions to the university, academia and genocide education. 

“It was overwhelming and humbling,” Pettigrew said. “However many other candidates there were, I am sure they are all deserving of this academic appointment. So it is just a matter of fate that somehow I was selected.” 

Before he came to the university, Pettigrew earned an interdisciplinary degree from Friends World College, now known as LIU Global, where he resided in Guatemala, Kenya, and England studying “global human problems,” as well as learning Spanish and Swahili. 

After earning two master’s degrees from Antioch University and Stony Brook University, he then pursued a Ph.D. in philosophy at Stony Brook while he started working part-time at the university in 1987 before he was hired full-time. 

While his interest in human rights goes back to when he was a teenager, Pettigrew’s work in genocide education stemmed from working with students on group research projects on genocides in a course called “Problems in Philosophy.” 

It was there he discovered “witness literature,” which were accounts by journalists of the genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where during the Bosnian War from 1992 to 1995, Serbian and Bosnian Serb nationalists attempted to remove the country’s population of Bosnian Muslims and Croats through displacement and murder. 

“I wrote a paper on the genocide and sent it to a conference,” Pettigrew said. “They accepted it and next thing I knew I was in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, presenting this paper” 

Since then, Pettigrew has presented lectures and spread awareness about the genocide nationwide and internationally and has appeared in Bosnian and German media, such as Hayat TV and Deutsche Welle. 

“A lot of my human rights work involves trying to tell the truth about what happened and support survivors in their efforts to commemorate what happened and establish memorials,” Pettigrew said. 

When reflecting on his time at the university, Pettigrew is reminded of the late Professors F.E. Lowe and Joseph Greco, who were significant role models for him. 

He also recalls when Sigourney Weaver was the speaker at the university’s 2003 Commencement, and told students, “When they graduate, to do something they love to do.” 

Pettigrew and his colleagues have been developing new courses where philosophy is used to address human rights and social justice, like “Policing Ethics.”  

The course was created by assistant philosophy chairperson and Professor Chelsea Harry, and the newest course available to students is called “Race, Ethnicity and Immigration.” 

Besides philosophy, Pettigrew has also taught courses in Judaic Studies, including an LEP course he created called “An Introduction to Holocaust and Genocide Studies,” exposing students to lesser-known genocides across the world. 

Regarding the importance of genocide education, Pettigrew mentions this quote from Elise Weisel: “To forget would not only be dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.” 

Southern now has three CSU professors, including Elliott Horch, Physics Chairperson; and Troy Paddock, History professor.

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