WCSU’s Hegel-Cantarella wins teaching awards
Board of Regents recognizes outstanding faculty

DANBURY, CONN. — Brooklyn, New York, resident Dr. Christine Hegel-Cantarella, assistant professor of anthropology in Western Connecticut State University’s Department of Social Sciences, is the winner of the Board of Regents 2017 System-Wide Teaching Award, given to the individual who best exemplifies high-quality teaching among all the awardees. Additionally, Hegel-Cantarella won the 2017 BOR Teaching Award, which recognizes faculty at each Connecticut State Colleges and Universities institution who have distinguished themselves as outstanding teachers, and who have initiated and promoted instructional improvements for their programs.

Hegel-Cantarella earned an MPhil and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. At WCSU, she teaches courses on legal anthropology, economic anthropology, qualitative research methods, social theory and the Middle East. In 2016, she developed an ethnographic field course, a four-week study abroad opportunity on the island of Barbados, during which students learn to conduct anthropological research. 

“I have been honored to teach and mentor so many students who inspire me with their curiosity and willingness to exceed my expectations,” Hegel-Cantarella said. “Taking students overseas was a new adventure that I look forward to doing again. My students were not just learning to do interviews, observational research and data analysis, but also learning to be bold and adaptable. It was thrilling to see them dive into research projects in villages across the island.” 

Hegel-Cantarella noted that the sustained and rich interaction with students at WCSU has shaped her approach to teaching. “I have found that students respond well to collaborative learning and invest more deeply in their own processes of discovery and problem-solving when they work together.”   

Hegel-Cantarella has been awarded research grants from the National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, and the Fulbright Commission to conduct ethnographic research in in Cairo and Port Said, Egypt, and has published in “Anthropology of the Middle East and North Africa: Into the New Millennium,” “Family Law in Islam” and the Law, Culture and the Humanities journal. She also collaborates with designers on experimental research projects and is finishing a manuscript on this work entitled “Ethnography by Design: Dispatches from the Productive Encounters Studio.”

In her recommendation of Hegel-Cantarella to the BOR, Professor of Social Sciences Dr. Carina Bandhauer said that Hegel-Cantarella’s classroom “reveals a professor who is engaged, lighthearted, warm and bonded with her students, whom she successfully molds into functioning, cohesive groups of learners building intellect, confidence and skills. One of the most demonstrative examples of her positive influence has been her recent development of an ethnographic field school in Barbados where she taught students this past summer. They returned with research and critical analytical skills that markedly improved their senior theses.”

“As a member of the BOR Awards Committee,” Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Ann J. Atkinson said, “it’s rewarding to learn about our faculty’s innovative teaching methods and impressive research projects. Since 2007, eight WCSU professors have been recognized by our campus and gone on to win the system award as well. It’s clear that we are achieving our mission to ‘change lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society.’”

The awardees were introduced and recognized at the BOR Faculty Advisory Committee’s Annual Conference at Central Connecticut State University on April 7. The awards presentation was led by Regent Merle Harris, chair of the Academic & Student Affairs Committee, accompanied by other regents and CSCU President Mark Ojakian.


Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.


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