Hartford Heritage Project Faculty

Hear directly from some of the faculty involved in the Hartford Heritage Project.

"I have a particular interest in the global connectedness of the peoples of the world, and the ideas that make connection possible. I began visiting the city of Hartford at the age of fourteen, before my family and I migrated here. I have always wondered about the apparent disconnectedness of the various neighborhoods and peoples within the city, and indeed, have asked civic and political leaders questions about this fragmentation. The answers convinced me that the people of Hartford – predominately of African and Latino descent today – are too often viewed a “a nuisance factor.” The HHP has provided a better answer for me. The disconnectedness of the people can be attributed to their lack of knowledge about the city of Hartford and its rich and sometimes controversial history. The ideas of liberty, justice, altruism and benevolence all have their roots in the intellectual tradition of New England, of which Hartford is a part. By understanding that Hartford was one of the wealthiest cities in 19th Century America and a key seaport in the triangular trade between, the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia, the students of Capital Community College can all lay claim to its heritage. I am convinced that HHP – using the heritage of the city as its foundation and the city itself as the college campus – can produce a new generation of enlightened and connected citizens of Hartford… this is possible.”"

Femi Bogle-Assegai, MBA,
University of Westminster/University of London, England,
PIER Fellow, Yale University,
UMass Amherst (exchange student)

"Participating in the Hartford Heritage Project has been one of the more exciting experiences I’ve had as a teacher at Capital. “Try to avoid Hartford” was a phrase I often heard traveling from my home in upstate New York to Vermont or Boston, but now the Colt building’s blue dome has begun to resonate differently in my mind. There seems no end to the adventure of exploring with students the many ways to bring the rich contexts of this city into the poems and stories of an English class."

John S. Christie, Ph.D. Professor of English and co-editor of Latino Boom: An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature, 2006.

"Some people express great affection for the city of Hartford while others see only negatives. This project allows us to connect to one another by exploring the common threads in the historical fabric of the city that surrounds us. Together we can contribute to a positive definition of what it means to be from Hartford. It is up to those of us who work and live in the city to define Hartford’s legacy for ourselves and future generations."

Jennifer Thomassen, Communications Professor and Program Coordinator of Communication Media

"Growing up in Bridgeport and having lived in New Haven, I know a lot about the Park City and the Elm City, but even though I’ve lived in Connecticut my entire life, I knew very little about the Capital City. Since participating in the Hartford Heritage Project, I’m excited to share everything I’ve learned about the history, culture, and people of Hartford with my students. I teach First Year Composition paired with Introduction to Philosophy in a learning community themed on poverty. As students study issues tied to social justice, they read about various philosophies and then apply new ways of thinking to class discussions and writing projects. Using a genre based approach to writing pedagogy allows me to assign essays that require students to write about places we visit during field trips in academically rigorous ways. For example by using rhetorician Diana George’s theoretical lens, students write textual analyses about paintings from the Wadsworth Atheneum; using Peter Singer’s philosophy on poverty, they write proposals for change ordinary individuals can act upon to alleviate poverty in their own communities. Helping students make connections between the ideas they study and the place where they live results in an empowering, transformative education."

Daniela Antonina Ragusa, Ph.D. '09, University of Rhode Island

"When I started teaching at Capital in 2005, I knew absolutely nothing about Hartford--and for good reason: I grew up in California, went to graduate school in Minneapolis, and lived in China for a year and Singapore for 10 years before moving to Connecticut. The Hartford Heritage Project opened my eyes to the wealth of history and culture in Hartford and I have, as my colleagues and students can attest, become obsessed with the place. I love teaching Hartford Heritage courses and exploring Hartford with students."

Jeffrey Partridge, Ph.D. National University of Singapore, author of Beyond Literary Chinatown, 2007 American Book Award winner.

"When I joined CCC, my friends warned me to be careful about the city, but I was excited to be teaching on a culturally diverse campus. Upon joining the HHP, and learning about the historical, cultural richness and the subsequent socio-economic mileu of the city, I was awed by the Hartford’s rich heritage. Through my eclectic reading selections, I have always tried to encourage students to ”peek beyond” just reading and writing, to explore different aspects of life and culture that connect with their lives. Now, I can make this objective concrete through the HHP learning community class using the city of Hartford as a resource. This class has the potential for students to engage in the history, read, and write, visit the Mark Twain House and other historical places in Hartford, increase critical thinking abilities and make connections to their own lives and the society they live in."

Minati Roychoudhuri, Associate Professor

"Even though I am familiar with the various cultural institutions in Hartford, I had seldom taken my students to visit them. Since getting involved with the HHP, I've incorporated some aspect of Hartford history or culture into my courses each semester - whether it is offering a learning community focusing on G.Fox and Beatrice Auerbach or taking students to the Atheneum, Old State House, Hartford Public Library, etc. Our students walk by these buildings every day, but few have gone into them. It's rewarding to watch their eyes light up and hear their comments when we step inside. Most importantly is that after our initial visits, students have returned to these places with their families."

Peggy Schuyler, ESL Professor