Fall 2014, Volume 11

National Office News

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, including a joint project between Carleton College and Goucher College. 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.

Several campuses, including Occidental College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, are creating certificate programs for civic engagement as a way of highlighting civic engagement opportunities on and off campus and recognizing the commitment and work of students. Oxy is developing a "Civic and Community Engagement" certificate program. RPI's certificate will feature a capstone project with final presentations with community partners and the RPI community. Wagner College is examining ways to enhance the appeal of its existing civic engagement certificate and reach students in a broad range of disciplines.

Chatham UniversityDrew University, and Goucher College are developing pathways models. Pathways are a means of organizing civic engagement opportunities around particular issues or themes that are of interest to student, faculty, and staff. Topics might include education, health, peacemaking and community conflict, and sustainable agriculture and food. Pathways are then used to highlight courses and co-curricular opportunities, internships, and service programs that relate to a given theme. Pathways also serve to advance collaboration between community partners, faculty, staff, and students all working on similar issues.

In addition, many campuses, including Allegheny CollegeBates CollegeHampshire CollegeHendrix CollegePitzer CollegeUrsinus College, and Widener Universitywill offer faculty development panels, seminars, or workshops for faculty interested in integrating civic engagement and social responsibility into their courses. Most of the seminars and workshops will focus on how to successfully incorporate a community based experience into a course and will offer assistance in identifying and working with community partners.

As part of the joint Carleton and Goucher project, Goucher is developing an on-line interface that will allow students to build individualized pathways using key word searches for particular themes. And Carleton is designing online and other assessment tools for tracking students engaged in pathways. They will examine a host of questions around students' use of pathways including how and to what extent students are making use of the pathways and whether they come to pathways intentionally or by chance. The data will be used to refine Carleton's approach to pathways. During the course of the project, faculty and staff at Carleton and Goucher will be in regular communication and will visit each other's campuses. Spelman College and Occidental College will also participate in the joint project.

Swarthmore College, which has developed several pathways, will also conduct research into what draws students to particular pathways and what courses and skills students make use of while engaged in these pathways. One of their goals is to highlight the diverse range of courses and skills students tap into when undertaking civic engagement projects.

Elon University and Hampshire College will both focus on the importance of student reflection while undertaking civic engagement and community-based learning projects. Elon will publish a book of student reflections on the ethical implication of their work as part of an alternative spring break. The book will be used for discussion by Elon students participating in future alternative spring break projects and will be available for use at other colleges. A faculty and staff working group at Hampshire College will develop a series of exercises focused on documentation and reflection that will be piloted with a group of 30 students. Hampshire will also pilot an orientation for students to be taken prior to undertaking community-based work.

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.


Periclean Students Use Political to Confront Violence Against Women

By Emily Lamberty '14, Carleton College

With support from their 2013 Debating for Democracy (D4D)™ Legislative Hearing award for their letter addressing the need for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), Carleton College students Emily Lamberty '14 and Gabriela Arteaga '14 hosted a spring panel, "What's Next for Minnesota's Women: VAWA One Year Out." Panelists included the Executive Director of Healing Outreach Prevention Education Center, a lobbyist for Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and the Anti-violence Program Director for OutFront Minnesota! Panelists spoke to an audience of approximately 50 students and addressed how the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in 2013 has impacted Minnesota women, how the funds are distributed, and where gaps remain in Minnesota policy. This event was a catalyst for Carleton students'political activism during the summer and into the legislative session. 

More about D4D: Debating for Democracy (D4D) is designed to promote civic engagement and effective advocacy skills among a wide range of students. Through workshops, a national conference, and co-curricular programs on each campus, students acquire the tools and tactics they need to advance their issues and to get their messages across to elected officials, fellow students, community groups, and the media.

The D4D Legislative Hearing is a highlight of the D4D National Conference. This unique event provides students a forum to articulate their solutions to some of today's most important public policy issues. At the March 2013 conference, student teams from five institutions, including Emily and Gabriela from Carleton, were selected to participate in the legislative hearings based on the quality of the letters they sent to their elected officials. The final five teams were chosen from more than 60 letters that students sent to state and federal representatives. The finalists presented their issues to a panel of judges consisting of former elected officials: U.S. Senator Harris Wofford (D-PA); U.S. Congressman Thomas Downey (D-NY); U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Constance Berry Newman; and Mayor of Baltimore Kurt Schmoke.


Project Pericles Program Directors' Annual Meeting Hosted by Carleton  

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.


Pericleans in the News 


First Widener Student Enrolls in Universities New Civic Engagement and Social Change Concentration

By Jennifer Kitchen, Widener University  

Widener University student Nicolette Epifani became immersed in service since arriving on the Widener campus. The idea that she could also focus her coursework on making a difference appealed to her. Now as a sophomore, Epifani is Widener's first sociology major with a civic engagement and social change concentration.

A goal of the new civic engagement and social change concentration is to equip students with practical skills that will support them in their engagement efforts. Much of the coursework will help students understand social issues from multiple angles to provide more context for the civic engagement work they are currently doing and will do in the future."So many of our students are civically engaged, whether they are sociology majors or not," said Stuart Eimer, associate professor of sociology. "We think this new major meets a previously unmet demand for curriculum that allows our students to study social issues, think about how to create positive change, and develop the skills to make that change."


Carleton's Periclean Faculty Leader Receive Prestigious Fellowship

By Adrienne Falcón, Director of Academic Civic Engagement, and

Project Pericles Program Director

Debby Walser-Kuntz, Carleton's Periclean Faculty Leader, was named as the college's second Broom Fellow for Public Scholarship. She will be spending time during the next two years developing her civic engagement efforts both in her own courses and as part of a public health sector at Carleton. This fits well with Carleton's institutional goal of developing more intensive civic engagement work in the STEM fields over the next two years, an initiative Carleton launched with the support of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Debby and other faculty and staff will be participating in a group she is launching dedicated to public health and engaged scholarship at Carleton.

Debby and Adrienne Falcón, Project Pericles Program Director, presented preliminary findings of a study of the effects of participating in different forms of civic engagement in biology courses at the annual conference of the International Association for Research in Service Learning and Civic Engagement in Omaha, Nebraska in the fall of 2013.


Over 70 Hampshire Students Work on Legal Campaign - Leads to Article in The Nation

By Ivana Staiti, Community Partnerships Coordinator, Hampshire College  

The Community Partnerships for Social Change (CPSC) office - the central organizing body for Hampshire College Periclean programming - has been mobilizing student involvement with a local organization and campaign called Justice For Ayyub. This campaign, spearheaded by the local non-profit and community partner Arise for Social Justice, is one of several "Justice For" campaigns, part of the growing movement to raise awareness and resist racial profiling and the prison industrial complex.

Beginning last winter more than 70 Hampshire students have participated in pre-trial and trial hearings of Ayyub Abdul-Alim, an Afro-Latino Muslim man from Springfield MA, who says he was framed by the FBI on gun charges after refusing to spy on his Muslim community.

CPSC Lead Students, Emily Keppler and Muki Najaer, co-authored an article with national scholar Arun Kundnani (author of The Muslims are Coming! Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror) about the case in The Nation online, entitled How One Man Refused to Spy on Fellow Muslims for the FBI- and Then Lost Everything.

The research for the article was part of an independent study with Hampshire College Visiting Professor John Gibler, and the relationship with Arun Kundnani developed out of a CPSC-sponsored lecture that included Hampshire student groups, local community organizers, Arun Kundnani and Deepa Kumar, scholar and author of Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire. This campaign has been an incredible synergy of students, faculty, campus programs, community partners, and national scholars, bringing a local case to the national attention.


Hendrix Students Debate Mission Statement 

By Kim Maslin, Professor of Politics, and Project Pericles Program Director, Hendrix College

Hendrix College's Project Pericles sponsored a forum discussion on the college's mission statement, which was last revised in 1997. The forum was co-facilitated by Sean Alexander '16 and President Bill Tsutsui. The audience was asked to place red and green stickers next to phrases and statements in the mission statement to which they reacted favorably and unfavorably.

The discussion centered around three issues: western intellectual tradition, aesthetics, and the role of place in a mission statement.

The audience was fairly critical of the section that states: "to examine critically and understand the intellectual traditions woven into the history of Western thought..."

Blair Causey '16 argued that despite the intellectual importance of Western thought it might not belong in the college's mission statement. "A lot of our students come with a broader perspective and although we're teaching Western thought... I just think it very limiting in terms of cultures," she said. "Hendrix prides itself in being kind of a melting pot with people with open minds and open hearts."

Asked if Hendrix's location belonged in the mission statement, MiMi Spjut, a junior from Texas, said, "[Arkansas] is part of our history and it is part of our identity but I don't know if it necessarily belongs in our mission statement just because our campus has such a diverse student body..."

Brady Rowe '17 agreed with Spjut but added that Arkansas "is also by definition our future...Until we decide to pick it up by its roots, we are an Arkansas college."


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 www.projectpericles.org by clicking donate in the upper right corner.