Academic Festival 2023

Critical Patriotism:
A Conversation about Democracy, Belonging, and Inclusion

Join us for our  25th Academic Festival!

Renowned author James Baldwin’s quote “I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually” provides a foundation for this discussion. The Academic Festival will be held on campus and virtually on Tuesday April 4th and  Wednesday April 5th.  We invite you to attend and explore the idea of critical patriotism, an opportunity to challenge what it means to be a patriot.

Cultural Exchange with University of Antananarivo, Madagascar
Facilitated by Robert Emigh, Professor of ESL in collaboration with the American Embassy, Madagascar 

Room: TBA
Log in via Zoom HERE

The Flagmakers (2022) by Cynthia Wade
Room: GenRE Forum 

Cynthia Wade is an award winning American television, commercial and film director, producer and cinematographer. She has directed documentaries on social issues. In 2008 She won an Oscar for the documentary “Freeheld” which she directed.

“The Flagmakers” poses one of today’s most pressing questions: who is the American flag for? Eder Flag in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, sews and ships five million American flags a year. The flagmakers – locals, immigrants and refugees – stitch stars and stripes as they wrestle with identity and belonging.[…] “The Flagmakers” is an intimate glimpse into the people whose hands make America’s most recognizable icon.” ( 

Q&A with the director and NCC Professor Julie Casper Roth will follow the film screening. 

Cultural Exchange with University of Antananarivo, Madagascar
Facilitated by Robert Emigh, Professor of ESL in collaboration with the American Embassy, Madagascar 

Room: TBA
Log in via Zoom HERE

Tiara Trent Presents her Paintings and Illustrations. 
A virtual presentation and discussion of artworks by NCC Art student, Tiara Trent, and students from Madagascar.

10:00 AM-11:30AM
Keynote: Raising a (Red) Flag: Why We Need a Critical Patriotism 

Room: GenRe Forum

The keynote speaker is Dr. Salvatore Pappalardo, Professor at Towson University and author Associate Professor of English and Director, Ancient Mediterranean Studies at Towson University.

In his lecture,“Raising a (Red) Flag: Why We Need a Critical Patriotism,” Dr. Pappalardo will discuss “the broken promises of nationhood and the ethical parameters of a critical and constructive patriotism, a sense of inclusive belonging that takes historical responsibility for the nation’s past.”

Dr. Pappalardo will make himself available for Q&A and an interactive workshop following the lecture.

For an introduction on the theme, please also see:

11:30AM-12:50PM Ruptures in the Fabric: A  Conversation about Social Division and Inclusion   

Room: GenRE Forum

There have been more and more legislation targeting marginalized groups with the implicit message being that these groups are fundamentally un-American. For instance, legislation such as Florida’s Don’t Say Gay bill and the elimination of African American AP courses, again in Florida, are serving as a basis for other states to enact similar harmful legislation that brings into question belonging and inclusion. Keynote speaker Dr. Pappalardo will serve as a respondent for this panelist discussion.


The Rev. Jake Miles Joseph is ADL Connecticut’s Associate Regional Director. His work at ADL focuses on incident response and statewide capacity building to fight hate and bias. He received his BA in French from Grinnell College in Iowa and his Masters of Divinity and Graduate Certificate in Human Rights from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Jake served UCC (Congregationalist) congregations for over seven years in his home state of Colorado and in Connecticut focusing on LGBTQ+ equality and affordable housing advocacy. Jake currently serves as a Commissioner for Milford Redevelopment and Housing Partners, on the DEI Committee of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO), and as the Chair and Founder of the NAHRO National LGBTQ Subcommittee. He and his scientist husband live in Milford, CT.

Cadence Pentheny (they/them) is Triangle Community Center’s passionate Community Educator, with a demonstrated commitment to supporting the LGBTQIA+ community through training and education. They hold a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Franklin & Marshall College, and a Graduate Certificate in Human Sexuality through the University of Minnesota. Upon graduating, they served two years with the AmeriCorps program City Year, where they supported students in an under-resourced elementary school. Before joining the team at TCC, they worked as Coordinator for LGBTQ+ Programming & Initiatives at the University of Mississippi, doing a wide variety of work involving intersectionality, diversity, equity, and education, especially around LGBTQ+ issues and sexual and gender liberation.

As leader of TCC’s LGBTQ+ Training Institute, Cadence is responsible for engaging with the wider community to provide educational opportunities and professional development surrounding LGBTQ+ cultural competency/humility across Fairfield County and beyond. Further, they facilitate interactive workshops on sexual violence prevention for schools and sports teams through the Sexual Violence Prevention Collaborative of Fairfield County’s Coaches as Partners program.