National Office News
CIC Invites Project Pericles to Present on Creating Cohesive Paths at Annual Conference
The Council of Independent Colleges invited Project Pericles to present on Creating Cohesive Paths to Civic Engagement at their annual conference in January. Periclean Presidents will discuss what role presidents can play to increase student awareness of and participation in opportunities for civic engagement. They will also discuss preliminary insights gained from the recently completed first phase of the Creating Cohesive Paths project and emerging practices for fully integrating civic engagement across the curriculum, campus, and community.
Pericleans in the News
Bates D4D Team Uses Award to Continue Fight Against Tar Sands in Maine
Jessica Nichols and Kate Paladin are rallying their fellow Bates students against the dangers of transporting Canadian tar sands through Maine using the Portland-Montreal Pipeline. The pair have been recruiting students to work on the issue and recently sent a letter opposing tar sands transport with over 150 signatures to Governor Paul LePage. They are also collaborating with campus environmental groups to bring Phil Aroneanu, co-founder of 350.org, to campus to raise awareness about the issue. Nichols and Paladin were inspired by Aroneanu's presentation at the 2013 Debating for Democracy (D4D) National Conference, where they were finalists in the 2013 Letters to an Elected Official Competition for their work on the subject. Read the letter
Widener's Significant Engagement in Community Recognized by HUD Study
Widener University's civic engagement efforts in the city of Chester have been recognized by publications such as Newsweek and Washington Monthly, but now the federal government is using Widener as a case study on the positive impact colleges and universities can have in stabilizing and improving the nation's struggling communities.
"Our hope is that other colleges and universities and other cities will use this report to establish the types of partnerships that we have been so fortunate to build in the city of Chester," Widener President Jim Harris said. "The most valuable message that this case study offers is that you don't have to have deep pockets or have a huge endowment as an institution to have an impact in your community. You have to be dedicated to improving your community and be willing to create democratic partnerships to find creative solutions to problems."
The report is available here.
Bates Students Learn Community Organizing from Alums and Community Allies
This summer as part of the Bates Short Term, politics professor Leslie Hill and women and gender studies professor Melinda Plastas turned their courses into learning labs on civic leadership and social justice. Hill and Plastas brought on board 2006 Bates alums Ali Vander Zanden and Jenna Vendil as Learning Associates. Over five weeks, the Learning Associates led skill-building workshops with students and hosted panels with community organizers from around the state. In addition, students in Plastas' Feminisms of the 1970s and 1980s course and Hills' Global Flows: Work, Sex and Care course were required to participate in a wide range of community organizing work and design a final project related to community engagement and gender. Bates' Harward Center provided key support through a faculty discretionary grant and general guidance. This model of shared pedagogy enriched student learning and advanced their understanding of and contribution to participatory democracy.
Vander Zanden and Vendil inspired students by sharing with them the knowledge, wisdom, and skills they had developed as young Maine civic leaders. As Political Director of EqualityMaine, Vander Zanden stewarded the successful landmark 2012 passage of Maine's marriage equality referendum. Vendil was elected a member of the Portland School Board in 2009 and in 2011 was named as one of "Maine's Forty Under Forty Leaders" for her work to advance access to health care, education, and the political process.
Students participated in roundtable discussions with Maine leaders from the Immigrant Legal Assistance Program; Maine American Civil Liberties Union; Outright Lewiston/Auburn; Planned Parenthood Federation of America; United Somali Women of Maine; the Maine AFL-CIO; and the Maine People's Alliance.
As part of their courses, students were also required to participate in community organizing. Students phone banked on immigration reform and LGBT issues. They helped organize the annual Stand Against Racism forum sponsored by the local YWCA. They travelled to the state house and lobbied representatives. They utilized their new civic engagement skills to raise awareness on campus about a range of issues including sexual health, racial diversity, gender representation in the media, and feminism.
By bringing Maine leaders into the classroom and requiring Bates students to participate in community organizing, Hill and Plastas honored the knowledge of community partners while engaging in a form of social justice grounded in reciprocity and alliance building.
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