Project Pericles

Advocate. Facilitate. Inspire.

Building on the Legacy and Innovative Vision of Eugene Lang - Since its founding in 2001, Project Pericles has grown into a vibrant consortium of liberal arts colleges and universities that plays a vital role in promoting civic engagement in higher education.

Our model is unique: Project Pericles works at all levels of the campus. We engage college boards of trustees, presidents, provosts, and other senior staff; Periclean program directors on each campus; faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community members.

We work in the classroom, on the campus, and in the community. This gives us leverage to push for institutional transformation and the incorporation of civic engagement and social responsibility across the college experience while engaging, not just a few, but the majority of students on our campuses – either directly through Periclean programs or indirectly by creating a campus culture that thoroughly integrates civic engagement and social responsibility, most importantly, in the curriculum. Through our research projects and publications, we also promote greater awareness within higher education about the value and importance of civic engagement.

Recent News and Updates

Project Pericles' Fall Newsletter is available!

Our latest newsletter offers exciting updates on ongoing programs, such as Creating Cohesive Paths, D4D™ on the Road, and the 2014 Letters to an Elected Official Competition. To read our Summer Newsletter, click here.

Creating Cohesive Paths to Civic Engagement 

Launched in 2013, this cutting edge, three-year project will further enhance our delivery of Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility (CESR) opportunities to students in all majors and will significantly increase the reach of civic engagement programming across the curriculum. Read more about Creating Cohesive Paths to Civic Engagement.

Project Pericles Announces 15 Mini-Grants to Member Campuses around the Country

In October, Project Pericles awarded 15 mini-grants to 16 Periclean Colleges and Universities. The projects focus on strengthening the integration, organization, and assessment of curricular and co-curricular programming for civic engagement and social responsibility. The awards were made as part of Creating Cohesive Paths to Civic Engagement, a three-year project designed to improve approaches to civic engagement in higher education. To read more about the mini-grants, click here

This work is made possible through the generous support of the Eugene M. Lang Foundation and The Teagle Foundation

Mellon Foundation Hosts Presidents' Council Meeting

On November 5, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation hosted the annual Project Pericles Presidents' Council Meeting. Earl Lewis, President of the Mellon Foundation, welcomed the group. Eugene Tobin, senior program officer for Higher Education and Scholarship in the Humanities, led a luncheon discussion about Mellon's longstanding commitment to higher education, liberal arts colleges, and the humanities.

The group of 17 presidents had a lively discussion about the importance of developing structures to imbed civic engagement into the core of the collegiate experience and shared with each other approaches they are advancing on their own campuses to further this goal.

Project Pericles thanks Richard Guarasci, President of Wagner College and the Chair of Project Pericles Presidents' Council, for leading the meeting.

Winners of the 2014 Letters to an Elected Official Competition

Over the past six years, hundreds of teams from all 29 Periclean colleges and universities have participated in the Letters to an Elected Official Competition. Winning teams have used their awards to take their issue and move it forward. Student leaders and activists have worked on a wide range of issues, including: fracking, education reform, human trafficking, the Dream Act, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and mountaintop removal coal mining. They have met with their elected officials and raised awareness on campus and in the community about their issues. 

This year's winning teams will each receive $500 award. The six winning letters are:

Hendrix College "A Letter to State Senator Joyce A. Elliott (D-AR) Concerning the Establishment of an Arkansas State Bank" by Chirag Lala and Steven Hulsey. To read the letter, click here

Macalester College "A Letter to Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) in support of the Television Consumer Freedom Act of 2013 (S. 912)" by Eliza Ramsey, Ben Haltmaier, and Myles Ambrose. To read the letter, click here

New England College "A Letter to U. S. Representative Ann M. Kuster (D-NH) in Support of Providing Resources Early for Kids Act of 2013 (H.R. 1041)" by Mariel Rheingold and Martina Cohran. To read the letter, click here

Pitzer College "A Letter to U.S. Representative Judy Chu (D-CA) in support of the Safe Schools Improvement Act" by Eli Erlick and Nicholas LaCivita. To read the letter, click here

Swarthmore College "A Letter to Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) concerning Human Rights Considerations and Effectiveness of U.S. Sponsored Coca Fumigation in Colombia" by Mackenzie Welch and Jason Mendoza. To read the letter, click here

Wagner College "A Letter to State Senator Diane J. Savino (D-NY) concerning the impact of hydraulic fracking in New York" by Nada Metwally and Adrienne Datta. To read the letter, click here 

We are proud of all the Periclean students on campuses throughout the country who participated in the competition!

Achievements of the Winners of the  2014 Letter to an Elected Official Competition: Students from Pitzer College and Swarthmore College Already Instigating Change!    

The 2014-2015 projects proposed by the six winning teams are in full motion. Teams have submitted exciting and engaging proposals to move forward the issues raised in their letters to elected officials. As the proposals are approved and the teams receive their award, we will be reporting on their progress.

Pitzer College's Eli Erlick and Nicholas LaCivita wrote, "A Letter to U.S. Representative Judy Chu (D-CA) in support of the Safe Schools Improvement Act." The act would mandate anti-bullying policies for LGBTQ students at the K-12 level and would be the first of its kind to protect at-risk youth from victimization.

As part of their work to raise awareness about the health and safety of LGBTQ students, Eli presented two workshops at The Gender Spectrum Conference, one for gender-expansive teens and the other for parents and professionals working with them.

Swarthmore College's Jason Mendoza and Mackenzie Welch wrote "A Letter to Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) concerning Human Rights Considerations and Effectiveness of U.S. Sponsored Coca Fumigation in Colombia." In June, the pair travelled to Washington, D.C. to attend a meeting on Capitol Hill about U.S. drug policy in the Western Hemisphere that featured Congressman Matt Salmon (R-AZ), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, and Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY), the Ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The pair also met with scholars in the Drug Policy Program at the Inter-American Dialogue that work in their Drug Policy Program.

The pair plan on returning to D.C. for meetings with their elected officials and experts on drug policy.

In their letter, Mendoza and Welch argue for a change in U.S. drug eradication policy in Colombia from aerial fumigation to manual eradication. The authors believe that aerial fumigation causes human rights violations, is not cost-efficient, and exacerbates rural displacement in Colombia.

Project Pericles Program Directors' Annual Meeting

Hosted by Carleton College  

Project Pericles Program Directors' Conference

In October, Project Pericles program directors' convened at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota for their annual meeting. The highlight of the first day was dinner at President Steven Poskanzer's home, where President Poskanzer delivered impassioned remarks about the importance of civic engagement in higher education. During the meeting, the program directors gave each other status updates and feedback on their action plans for strengthening civic engagement that were generated during our July convening forCreating Cohesive Paths to Civic Engagement that was held at The Pocantico Center of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

The second day featured a discussion of Carleton's pathways approach to civic engagement with a focus on three themes, Education and Student Development, Energy and Environment, and Food and Health. Program directors had the opportunity to visit with community partners involved with each pathway including the Tackling Obstacles, Raising College Hopes (TORCH) Program at Northfield High School; the GIS and Engineering Department for the City of Northfield; and the Just Food Coop. Program directors also spoke with faculty, staff, and students involved with each pathway.

Project Pericles thanks President Steven Poskanzer; Adrienne Falcón, Director of Academic Civic Engagement; Cindy Plash, Administrative Assistant for Community and Civic Engagement; Laura Riehle-Merrill, Director for Community Engagement and Student Leadership; and Kelly Scheuerman, Program Director for Civic Engagement Pathways; the Center for Community and Civic Engagement staff; and the Carleton Community for making this an extremely productive and interesting meeting.

Narrative of Success - Getting our Message Out about the Role of Civic Engagement

By Jim Vike, Associate Professor, Government and Politics; Associate Dean, Social Science Division; and Project Pericles Co-Program Director; Widener University

At the October Program Directors' Conference, an ad hoc working group of program directors met over a lunch session to discuss a concern that some influential individuals on or off our campuses "just don't get it" when hearing of civic engagement and social responsibility initiatives supported by Periclean member institutions. The group's charge was to identify and articulate a range of options for reporting on the importance and impact of these initiatives that would resonate with an audience less familiar with the benefits of civic engagement. The full range of options, which the group coined "Narratives of Success", included five distinct categories: Quantitative Outputs, Student Benefits, Community Benefits, Institutional Benefits and Partnership Benefits. The group created a PowerPoint presentation to reference and highlight the different narrative categories. And they are compiling specific examples from member campuses for the purpose of sharing best practices with others.

For more information about receiving copies of our newsletters and publications, please e-mail Garret Batten.