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' Summer 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. 

In July, delegates representing 25 Periclean colleges and universities convened at The Pocantico Center of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund to discuss innovative strategies for organizing and integrating curricular and co-curricular programming focused on civic engagement and social responsibility (CESR). The meeting is part of Creating Cohesive Paths to Civic Engagement,a three-year project focused on improving approaches to CESR in higher education. Over the last year, teams on each campus collected comprehensive data on all CESR related curricular and co-curricular programs. Prior to the convening, institutions were paired with a Periclean peer to review survey material and discuss findings.  

Representatives from diverse institutions gathered for discussions about organizing, integrating, and strengthening CESR opportunities on their campuses. Delegates shared advice, best practices, and innovative new approaches, including pathway models and specialized civic scholars programs.

Participants spent considerable time working on action plans to improve civic engagement programming on each campus, including enhancing CESR, addressing gaps, ensuring clear learning outcomes, creating effective pathways, and enabling students in all disciplines to incorporate civic engagement into their courses of study. Working in small groups, they provided each other with practical recommendations for the implementation of programs.

Colleges and universities participating in the convening are eligible to apply for mini-grants to assist with projects to strengthen curricular and co-curricular programming for CESR.

Participants were joined by Lauren McGrail, Executive Director of the Eugene M. Lang Foundation and Loni Bordoloi, Program Officer at The Teagle FoundationNeil Grabois, Chair of the Project Pericles Board, and Barbara Holland, consultant for Project Pericles. See a picture

We thank the Eugene M. Lang Foundation and The Teagle Foundation for supporting this work and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund for hosting the convening. Read more

Winners of the 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 Governance: New Appointments

Our founder, longtime champion, and Chair, Eugene M. Lang was elected Chair Emeritus at the May meeting of the Project Pericles Board of Directors. Mr. Lang's insight, leadership, and determination made Project Pericles a reality. He is truly an innovator, seeing the need for a reinvestment in civic education long before most.

Mr. Lang has had a remarkable career in business and as a philanthropist. Recognizing his services to education, President Bush designated him a 'Point of Light' and President Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, this country's highest civilian award.

In 1981, he created the 'I Have a Dream' Program, which went on to become a nationwide enterprise operating in over 75 cities and providing sustained personalized guidance and support to many thousands of children (identified as 'Dreamers') throughout their K-12 years plus an assured college opportunity. Over the years, he has created a variety of innovative scholarships, academic and social performance incentives, fellowships, and chairs at many colleges. He has supported and endowed numerous internships, researchers, and socially-oriented projects for students and faculty.

We thank Mr. Lang for his inspiration and many years of service and look forward to building upon his groundbreaking work in higher education.

The Project Pericles Board of Directors elected Neil R. Grabois as Chair. Neil previously served as Vice-Chair and brings decades of experience in higher education to his new position. As the former President of Colgate University, former Vice President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and a longtime advocate of civic engagement, Neil has been a strong board member with a substantive knowledge of the work of Project Pericles.

The Board of Directors also elected Richard Ekman as Vice-Chair of Project Pericles andAlison Bernstein as its first Treasurer. Richard Ekman is the President of the Council of Independent Colleges. Alison Bernstein is the former Vice-President of the Ford Foundation and currently the Director of the Institute for Women's Leadership at Rutgers University. We are delighted to have such strong, supportive leadership from our board.

We are pleased to announce that Richard Guarasci, President of Wagner College, is the new Chair of the Project Pericles Presidents' Council and Steven G. Poskanzer, President of Carleton College, is the new Vice-Chair. Please join us in welcoming Richard and Steve to their new positions. We thank Rebecca Chopp, the former President of Swarthmore College, for her many years of service on the Presidents' Council, most recently as Chair. 

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