Our Winter 2016 Newsletter is available here!
Winners of the 2016 Letters to an Elected Official Competition
We are pleased to announce the five winning teams of the 2016 Letters to an Elected Official competition. The competition engages students around public policy issues, the political process, and with their elected officials. Since this program began in 2008, we have received outstanding submissions from students at our Periclean colleges and universities. This year was no exception.
In addition to the letter to an elected official, this year we asked students to share a project proposal about how they would use the $500 award.
An elected official who served as one of the external evaluators wrote, "let all these students know what wonderful and impressive work they did," adding that "if [she] had received any of the letters from a constituent, [she] would have been blown away." Another outside evaluator commented that the letters were, "so well written and inspiring."
The five winning teams will each receive $500 to work on their issue during the 2016-17 academic year:
Hayden Moyer '17 and Walter Stover '17 (Allegheny College) wrote to Senator Robert Casey (D-PA) about online privacy and adapting Europe's Right to be Forgotten in the United States. They will develop a website "promoting digital privacy rights and serving as a database" for cases supporting their endeavor.
Tran Nguyen '17 and Megan Yocum '17 (Berea College) sent State Senator Jared Carpenter (R-KY) a letter discussing the expansion of Kentucky's 2013 Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The pair plans to create a public service announcement and then present it to elected officials during lobbying meetings.
Sarah Goldman '17 and Jenni Rogan '19 (Carleton College) penned a letter to Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) regarding the 2014 Farm Bill Crop Insurance and Subsidies Policy. The students will create a mentorship program for students to work with farmers in their state and participate in a training program during the summer of 2017.
Katie Dobbins '17, Emma Gaither '18, Casey Hawkins '18, and Tejas Soman '18 (Hendrix College) wrote to State Senator Joyce Elliott (D-AR) about restricting local media sources from publishing the names of juveniles charged as adults for crimes. The team will partner with student organizations in Arkansas to publicize their issue and organize a concert to raise awareness. The students also plan to hold a panel discussion and a letter writing campaign to petition elected officials to address the matter.
Amina Farias '18 and Eleanor Neal '18 (Pitzer College) wrote to Representative Judy Chu (D-CA) on the issue of Medicaid-funded mental health treatment and recovery support programs. To "prevent recidivism while promoting community reintegration", they will create and distribute a resource guide working with a community partner to support women with mental illness and substance abuse problems as they pursue self-sufficiency and stability.
We look forward to working with the teams throughout the next year.
Project Pericles Holds Convening to Discuss Approaches to Civic Engagement within Higher Education
Project Pericles held a convening focused on our three-year examination of civic engagement on 26 campuses. On January 20, representatives from Periclean colleges and universities met at theCouncil of Independent Colleges (CIC) in Washington, D.C. Joining the group were Jane Lang, Acting Chair of the Eugene M. Lang Foundation; Neil Grabois, Project Pericles Board Chair; Bill Sullivan, External Evaluator for The Teagle Foundation's Larger Vision Initiative; and Rich Ekman, CIC President and Project Pericles Board Vice Chair.
We had a full day of engaging conversation with delegates reflecting on their progress over the last three years, sharing what they have learned, and brainstorming about how to further this work. We met with the dual purpose to wrap-up activities of the 2013-2016 grant period while also listening as we refine next steps for Creating Cohesive Pathways. Much of the conversation focused on next steps and how we can leverage the expertise on Periclean campuses to advance civic engagement work among consortium members and in higher education more generally. Participants expressed interest in forming working groups focusing on substantive topics such as food security, local refugee populations, and sustainability. There was also interest in working on best practices for collaborating with community partners and developing certificate programs, civic scholars programs, pathways models, requirements, and student reflection. Innovative technological strategies for advising students and for tracking students' participation currently being developed by campuses were also discussed.
We thank The Teagle Foundation for supporting the convening and Rich Ekman and CIC for hosting us.
About - Creating Cohesive Paths to Civic Engagement is a three-year effort to reconceptualize the organization and integration of programming for civic engagement and social responsibility within higher education. With support from the Eugene M. Lang Foundation and The Teagle Foundation, our member colleges and universities have inventoried, mapped, strengthened, and developed more cohesive and integrated civic engagement programs to enable students in all disciplines to incorporate civic engagement into their course of study.
Project Pericles to Receive First Installment of $3 Million Endowment from the Eugene M. Lang Foundation
Project Pericles will receive the first half of a $3 million endowment from the Eugene M. Lang Foundation this year. The Lang Foundation has made a $4.325 million commitment to Project Pericles, including the endowment and annual contributions (2015-2021). The support of the Lang Foundation for the work of Project Pericles ensures that we will continue to thrive for years to come, and we are grateful to the foundation for its support. This substantial gift is an important investment in Eugene M. Lang's vision and in Project Pericles' mission of championing civic engagement in the classroom, on the campus, and in the community.
We thank the Eugene M. Lang Foundation for this generous gift and for many years of support.
Project Pericles to Collaborate on Study of Wellness with Four Campuses
This fall, Bringing Theory to Practice (BTtoP) awarded Project Pericles a grant to study the impact of participation in courses with a civic component on student well-being. We are pleased to announce that Bates, Goucher, Hendrix, and Pitzer Colleges will be collaborating with us on this project. This grant will allow us to study the impact of incorporating civic engagement in the curricula on the well-being of college students. We will compare the impact of different approaches to civic engagement on student well-being and look at variations among student populations. We will examine a number of high impact practices including first-year seminars and community-based learning courses and assess their impact on well-being. In addition, close attention will be paid to the impact of programs on Pell-eligible and first-generation students.
Student Choices - Student Voices (SCSV) is in Full Motion
Program Directors have been extremely supportive of the program and their students. They have recruited students across the country to participate in the SCSV Taskforce. The Project Pericles National Office designed a survey for students nominated to join the SCSV Taskforce asking them about their interests and involvement in the Presidential election process. The survey responders listed more than 14 topics they would like to see addressed by candidates and provided many innovative ideas of activities to get voters interested. Based on the submission we received, students were grouped together and encouraged to work on shared issues of interest. A document listing relevant resources and organizations linked to each topics was created and students can add to it as they discover more resources. The objective is to provide students with the tools to engage at the national level on issues they are passionate about.
The taskforce has received a reference document listing activities and websites that help generate enthusiasm for the elections and also inform registered voters in the community and on campus about candidates and specific issues. We shared a comprehensive primaries calendar by state as well as educational games to use during debate watching events. We will continue to involve the taskforce by sharing ideas, ongoing activities, and suggestions with our Periclean campuses. For example, the latest email update highlighted the work of Pitzer College to register voters and inform students and community partners by debunking issues important to the Claremont, California community. We look forward to hearing from all our campuses about their efforts to engage in the election process!
Project Pericles Welcomes New Civic Engagement Intern
Project Pericles is pleased to welcome Taryn Volpe as its new Civic Engagement Intern. Volpe is a Sociology and Education major at Wagner College. At Wagner, she is a member of the Bonner Leaders Program, IMPACT Scholars Civic Network, Habitat for Humanity, and Disability Awareness Club. Volpe is an aspiring first grade teacher with a passion for politics and civic engagement.
Volpe is part of the Student Choices - Student Voices (SCSV) Taskforce and she participated in the Letters to an Elected Official competition last year and attended the 2015 D4D National Conference. She has also attended D4D on the Road workshops. Her involvement in our programs make her a great addition to the National Office and we look forward to sharing her accomplishments with you all!
Our board member, Michael S. McPherson, and William G. Bowen write a letter to the editor in the New York Times
You can read the article "A Discredited Challenge to Affirmative Action," published on December 14, 2015 by clicking here.
Project Pericles Reaches Milestone of 30 Member Colleges and Universities with the Addition of The Evergreen State College
Project Pericles is pleased to announce that The Evergreen State College is our newest member institution. Evergreen is our first campus in the Pacific Northwest. With the addition of Evergreen and Skidmore College, which joined earlier in 2015, Project Pericles has grown to 30 colleges and universities in 18 states.
Project Pericles Executive Director Jan Liss visited The Evergreen campus in November. She met with President George Bridges, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Michael Zimmerman, and Director of the Center for Community-Based Learning and Action Ellen Shortt Sanchez. In addition, Liss met with Wendy Endress, Vice President for Student Affairs; Nancy Koppelman, member of the faculty and instructor in the Evergreen Student Civic Engagement Institute; and David McAvity, Academic Dean.
Liss left impressed by Evergreen's commitment to civic engagement. "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. Our board decided to extend an invitation to Evergreen given their demonstrated commitment to civic engagement and their interest in working with Project Pericles and its member institutions. We are extremely pleased to have them join Project Pericles and we look forward to working with their President, George Bridges, and the entire Evergreen community," said Liss.
Each member campus appoints Project Pericles Program Directors to coordinate programs on campus and serve as a liaison to the national office. We are pleased to be working with Evergreen's Academic Grants Manager, John McLain and Member of the Faculty, Andrea Gullickson. Both Gullickson and McLain attended the Project Pericles Program Directors' Conference at Bates College in November.
In addition to teaching, Gullickson is an oboist who has toured widely, performing in concert halls in the United States and abroad.
McLain has long worked with students on civic engagement as part of the Evergreen Student Civic Engagement Institute among other projects. He helps students to explore and cultivate "humility, empathy, persistence, hope, patience, self-reflection, and a commitment to embracing complexity," or, as he puts it, "the virtues of civility and democratic engagement," and believes that Project Pericles will provide an even greater support structure toward that end.
Widener Receives Grant for Culture and Arts Corridor Running to City Hall
Widener University has received a 2015 Catalyst Fund from the Barra Foundation to support a Boundaries and Bridges initiative, which aims to strengthen and support arts collaboration in the city of Chester and realize the planned Culture and Arts Corridor from Widener University to Chester's City Hall. The $211,000 grant will allow for a range of collaborative arts and creative place-making activities over the course of the next year. Members from Widener and the greater Chester community will work with artists to identify boundaries that may be obstructions to deeper trust and stronger collaborations between the university and community. Workshops will be offered to catalyze and encourage new collaborative possibilities, and funds will be available for artistic interventions that strengthen or build new bridges.