Professor Richard Capobianco has nothing against technology in the classroom. But he’ll be the first to tell you that’s not how the “magic happens.”
“Something profound, deep and lasting happens when a real conversation opens up between me and students,” he says. “It gets to the core of what we are as human beings.”
Capobianco says he “always knew” he wanted to be a teacher, and that indeed he is happiest when fostering that give-and-take with students. Capobianco was drawn to Stonehill more than 25 years ago by a sense that philosophy was valued by the institution. “There was a tradition of teaching philosophy here that was longstanding,” he says. “I could tell that it mattered.”
Arriving on campus his first year, Capobianco knew he was in the right place. “People around here are really committed to teaching – they care about being in the classroom,” he says. “It was a good fit from the start.”
Chair of the department since 2006, Capobianco has devoted his teaching to sparking an appreciation for philosophy’s lessons – even among students without plans to make it a career. “If I’m doing my job as a teacher, I find a way to make even the most ancient philosophical problem of interest to students in the present, no matter where they’re coming from,” he says. “Studying philosophy gives students the confidence to think broadly and deeply when considering any problem.”
Just as Capobianco encourages excellence among students – he founded and for 10 years directed Stonehill’s first college-wide Honors Program – for his part, he maintains a strong connection with the larger academic world through research, publication and visiting lectures. Most recently, he published Engaging Heidegger, a book on the thought of philosopher Martin Heidegger. On campus, he forges ties with like-minded academics, for example publishing a translation of Foreign Languages Professor Antonio Barbagallo’s book of poetry and delivering joint poetry readings with him. These efforts, he says, inspire students to be more collaborative and creative in their own learning.
“If I ask for the students’ best, and they ask for my best, great things can happen,” says Capobianco.