Project Pericles

Advocate. Facilitate. Inspire.

Building on the legacy and innovative vision of Eugene Lang, Project Pericles is a vibrant consortium of colleges and universities that plays a vital role in promoting civic engagement within higher education.

Our model is unique. Project Pericles works at all levels of the campus, engaging 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. We engage 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.

Periclean Programs

The national office of Project Pericles works with Periclean colleges and universities to develop civic engagement programs that support, enhance, and extend their existing activities. These programs are designed to deepen the Periclean mission on campus by enabling faculty to incorporate civic engagement into the curriculum and by empowering students to become more thoughtful and effective advocates. Signature Periclean programs include:

Creating Cohesive Pathways to Civic Engagement

Civic Engagement Course (CEC)™ Program

Debating for Democracy (D4D)™

Periclean Faculty Leadership (PFL) Program™

Student Choices - Student Voices (SCSV)

Recent News and Updates

2015 Program Directors' Conference

Bates College graciously hosted the 2015 Project Pericles Program Directors' Conference on November 10-11. The attendees exchanged ideas and explored ways to strengthen civic engagement and social responsibility on Periclean campuses and in their community. Program Directors discussed successful approaches to engage students, to assess community impact and learning outcomes, and to promote faculty leadership. The two-day conference included a dinner at President Clayton Spencer's house, a poster session led by current Bates students on their ongoing civic engagement involvement, and a panel discussion with Bates alumni describing how their undergraduate experience affected their paths. Three of the five alums at the panel have gone on to hold elected office, Nate Libby is a Senator in Maine representing Senate District 21 and Craig Saddlemire held a seat on the Lewison City Council, while Ben Chin is in a tightly contested mayoral race for the town of Lewiston. 

CIC Presidents Institute

Project Pericles' Executive Director Jan R. Liss and Periclean Presidents Mary Ann Baenninger (Drew University), Jonathan Lash (Hampshire College), and James H. Mullen, Jr. (Allegheny College) will present a session on the Creating Cohesive Paths to Civic Engagement work at CIC's Presidents Institute, January 4–7, 2016 in Miami Beach.

Cohesive Paths for Civic Engagement in the Liberal Arts

Project Pericles and their member institutions mapped students' civic engagement and social responsibility work (CESR)  in order to develop more cohesive and integrated programs for students in all disciplines that incorporate CESR into their courses of study. Presenters will discuss the mapping process and how it served as a catalyst for change on campuses; they will describe the ways that clearly articulated opportunities for students to engage in CESR  enhance the development of ethically engaged citizens and prepares them for future careers. Panelists will present findings from a recently completed study of CESR in higher education and give specific examples that highlight the strengths of their programs.

Skidmore College Joins Project Pericles

Project Pericles is pleased to announce that Skidmore College is our newest member institution. "At its core, Project Pericles is about collaboration and leveraging our collective expertise in order to build stronger and more coherent curricular programs incorporating civic engagement and social responsibility. We are adding campuses that can significantly contribute to and elevate our conversations." said Jan Liss, Project Pericles' Executive Director, "Our board decided to extend an invitation to Skidmore given their demonstrated commitment to civic engagement and their interest in working with Project Pericles and its member institutions. The support of Skidmore's Board of Trustees and President Philip Glotzbach was compelling. We are extremely pleased to have them join Project Pericles."

Each member campus appoints a Project Pericles Program Director to coordinate programs on campus and serve as a liaison to the national office. We are pleased to be working with Associate Professor of History Eric Morser, Skidmore's Faculty Director of Civic Engagement. Morser is an early American historian who is especially interested in cities and in the origins of radical political protest in rural New Hampshire during the antebellum era. He is an award-winning professor who has worked extensively with public school teachers around the country. In addition to serving as Skidmore's Project Pericles Program Director, Eric will help enhance the intentionality, creativity, and vision of Skidmore's many civic engagement activities.

"For a number of years, Skidmore students have participating in our Debating for Democracy, D4D on the Road™ workshops for student activists," said Garret Batten, Project Pericles' Assistant Director, "Skidmore students are addressing pressing social problems and we are pleased to deepen our work with them."


The Spencer Foundation Funds the 2015-2016 D4D on the Road™ Workshops

The Spencer Foundation recently announced that Project Pericles will receive a grant supporting the ten D4D on the Road workshops organized between September 19, 2015 and March 19, 2016.

The D4D on the Road™ workshops are designed to provide novice and seasoned political activists with the tools and tactics they need to get their message across to policy makers, community leaders, and the public. Whether participants are interested in service, public policy, issue-based organizing, or advocacy campaigns, this highly effective workshop gives participants the core skills needed to start a new project or expand an existing one. They empower participants to effectively work within the democratic process to address pressing social, civic, and economic issues. Through these non-partisan workshops, Project Pericles has reached more than 3,000 students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members on campuses over the past seven years.

With ten workshops across the country this year, we will reach hundreds of participants from more than 20 college and university campuses. The workshops are led by Wellstone Action and focus on practicing concrete skills, including building an organizing team; developing problem solving strategies for community issues; crafting effective messages using the problem, solution, action, ask framework; and delivering persuasive public testimony. The trainers, Naomi LongJessica Pierce, and John Gilbert, have extensive experience leading innovative and empowering civic engagement workshops. See final page for schedule.

Project Pericles appreciates the generous support of The Spencer Foundation and The Eugene M. Lang Foundation.

Student Choices - Student Voices: A Project Pericles Initiative to Boost Voter Registration and Inform the Electorate about the 2016 Elections

Eugene M. Lang founded Project Pericles in 2001 to tackle the growing political cynicism and civic disengagement among young people. In 2016, Project Pericles will celebrate its 15th anniversary, and to honor Mr. Lang's vision we are expanding a program he cherished: Student Choices - Student Voices (SCSV). SCSV is a Periclean initiative that encourages colleges and universities to develop innovative projects on campus and in the community to engage voters in the electoral process and government affairs. SCSV seeks to increase voter registration and turnout for students and community members and to inform them about pressing public policy issues.

Under SCSV, Periclean colleges and universities will hold events on campus and/or in the community that focus on the 2016 elections. SCSV encourages and facilitates thoughtful engagement of students in the political process-learning about candidates, understanding issues, and championing knowledgeable opinions. SCSV will build on the strength of our national consortium to support, share, and collaborate on exciting initiatives on all campuses.

The project will officially launch this fall, and we are assembling a SCSV Taskforce comprised of Project Pericles Program Directors and led by Christine Martin, Project Pericles Program Manager. We are already receiving student nominations from campuses to help register students and others, and to organize events for students and community members. Each Periclean team will be invited to choose from an array of opportunities including: informative activities, digital resources, and registration tools.


Project Pericles Needs Your Support!

Please consider making a generous donation today to Project Pericles so that we can continue our work preparing tomorrow's engaged citizens. Donations can now be made directly through our website by clicking donate in the upper right corner. 

The Debating for Democracy (D4D)™ on the Road Calendar is Out!

Thanks to the generous support of the Spencer Foundation, Project Pericles is organizing 10 Debating for Democracy (D4D)™ on the Road workshops across the United States, which will reach hundreds of participants from more than 20 colleges and universities! Through these non-partisan workshops, Project Pericles has reached more than 3,000 students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members on campuses across the country over the past seven years. We empower participants to effectively work within the democratic process to address pressing social, civic, and economic issues. The full schedule can be found below.

Project Pericles is pleased to partner with Wellstone Action once again for the D4D on the Road workshops we are offering this academic year. Wellstone is one of the leading providers of trainings for college students, and the trainers - Emily Caponetti, John Gilbert and Naomi Long - have extensive experience leading innovative and impactful civic engagement workshops.

We hope to see you at one of the workshops!

2015-2016 D4D on the Road Workshop Schedule:

Saturday, September 19, 2015 Hendrix College, Conway, AK
Saturday, October 17, 2015 Drew University, Madison, NJ
Saturday, November 07, 2015 Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA
Saturday, November 14, 2015 Chatham University, Pittburgh, PA
Saturday, December 05, 2015 Berea College, Berea, KY
Saturday, December 05, 2015 New England College, Henniker, NH
Saturday, January 23, 2016 Macalester College, St. Paul, MN
Friday, February 19, 2016 Pace University, New York, NY
Friday, February 26, 2016 Wagner College, Staten Island, NY
Saturday, March 19, 2016 Ursinus College, Collegeville, PA

Read the 2015 D4D National Conference Newsletter here! 

Debating for Democracy (D4D) National Conference

Incarceration reform, veterans' health issues, gun control, and combating discrimination on college and university campuses were among the diverse issues tackled by student leaders as they met with public policy experts and activists at this year's Debating for Democracy (D4D) National Conference. The two-day conference, an initiative of Project Pericles, was hosted by President David Van Zandt and Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts on March 19 and 20 in New York City.

The conference featured two interactive workshops for our students, panel discussions, a Legislative Hearing, and time to network with fellow student activists from around the country (Agenda). We concluded with visits to five local non-profits, Community Voices Heard, Friends of the High Line, Harlem Grown, Inside Out/College and Community Fellowship, and Museum at Eldridge Street/A Landmark Synagogue Story. 

Attended by student leaders from Periclean campuses, college presidents, faculty, staff, nonprofit activists, and foundation, government, and community leaders, the conference provided a forum to share ideas and advocate for issues of critical social and political concern - representing the mission of Project Pericles in action.

Our thanks to Eugene M. Lang, whose vision inspired this conference and to the Eugene M. Lang Foundation for its ongoing support of Project Pericles. 

As Part of D4D National Conference, Student Teams Take Home $5,000 to Work on Advocacy Campaigns on their Campuses and in their Communities  

2015 D4D National Conference - Rhodes Students with Legislative Hearing Judges

Students from Rhodes College (Paul Brandt; Alex Dileo; Samuel Holder; and Parker Lyons) with the Legislative Hearing Judges (Carol Browner, Former EPA Administrator; former U.S. Congressman Thomas Downey (D-NY); and the Honorable Edwina Richardson-Mendelson), and Project Pericles Executive Director Jan Liss.

Five "Letters to an Elected Official" were featured at the conference's Debating for Democracy (D4D) Legislative Hearing. They were selected from letters written by teams of students from Periclean campuses and proposed innovative solutions to issues including education, immigration, and the environment. These letters were sent to elected officials across the United States.

At the hearing, teams of students from Bates College, Carleton College, Macalester College, Occidental College, and Rhodes College presented their public policy proposals to a panel of current and former government officials: Carol Browner, Former EPA Administrator; former U.S. Congressman Thomas Downey (D-NY); and the Honorable Edwina Richardson-Mendelson.

The Rhodes College team of Alexandra Dileo and Samuel Holder won the hearing for their "Letter in Support of Net Neutrality by Reclassifying Internet Service as a Public Utility under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934," which they sent to Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA). The pair urged Senator Isakson to safeguard net neutrality by supporting the reclassification of internet service as a public utility under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. Their letter was very timely and, subsequent to their writing, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) did move to reclassify internet service.

Rhodes will receive a $3,000 award to develop an advocacy campaign and we are looking forward to working with them on issues related to internet access. The four finalist teams will each receive a $500 award also to be used to develop an advocacy campaign to move their issue forward. This is the first time that Occidental College and Rhodes College were represented in the finals. Descriptions of the five finalist letters are available here.

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

Creating Cohesive Paths to Civic Engagement 

This 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 was one of four grantees invited by The Teagle Foundation to present at "A Larger Vision for Student Learning: Education for Civic and Moral Responsibility" - Teagle's national convening of grantees on April 9-10. Jan Liss discussed Creating Cohesive Paths to Civic Engagement. Liss presented finding from this national project that includes inventorying/ mapping all civic engagement courses and co-curricular activities on the 26 participating campuses.

Representing the participating campuses were five of the campus leaders responsible for the mapping work. We were pleased to be joined by:

Allegheny College - Terry Bensel, Associate Provost & Director of the Allegheny Gateway, Professor of Environmental Science, and Project Pericles Program Director

Carleton College - Adrienne Falcón, Director of Academic Civic Engagement, Lecturer in Sociology, and Project Pericles Program Director

Hampshire College - Laura Wenk, Dean of Curriculum and Assessment & Associate Professor of Cognition and Education (Dean of Faculty/School of Cognitive Science)

Hendrix College - Jay Barth, M.E. and Ima Graves Peace Distinguished Professor of Politics, Director of Civic Engagement Projects, and Project Pericles Program Director

Occidental College - Ella Turenne, Assistant Dean for Community Engagement, and Project Pericles Program Director

Neil Grabois, Board Chair, Project Pericles and Garret Batten, Assistant Director, Project Pericles were also in attendance.

Creating Cohesive Paths to Civic Engagement is a three-year project to reconceptualize the organization and integration of programming for civic engagement and social responsibility (CESR) within higher education. With support from the Eugene M. Lang Foundation andThe Teagle Foundation, our member colleges and universities are inventorying, mapping, strengthening, and developing more cohesive and integrated curricular programs to enable students in all disciplines to incorporate civic engagement into their courses of study.

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