Winter 2015, Volume 11

National Office News

Eugene M. Lang Foundation Makes $4.325 Million Commitment to Project Pericles

We are pleased to announce that Project Pericles will receive a $3 million endowment and annual gifts through 2021 from the Eugene M. Lang Foundation totaling $4.325 million. The strong commitment of the foundation to the work of Project Pericles ensures that we will continue to thrive for years to come. We are grateful to the foundation for its support. 

This substantial gift is an important investment in Eugene M. Lang's vision and Project Pericles' mission of championing civic engagement in the classroom, on the campus, and in the community. It plays an important role in ensuring our continued success.

Jane Lang, Acting Chair of the Eugene M. Lang Foundation, wrote that "The Eugene M. Lang Foundation is proud to be associated with Project Pericles and its achievements.  In recognition of Project Pericles' excellent work to advance the cause of civic engagement in higher education, and in honor of our Board Chair and the founder of Project Pericles, Eugene M. Lang, we are delighted to make [this] commitment."

We thank our Periclean Presidents, Program Directors, and their colleges and universities. It is their hard work, dedication, and support that has done so much to advance the cause of civic engagement in higher education and beyond. This gift is a testament to all that we have achieved together and to all that we will do in the future.

This support will enable Project Pericles to continue to provide its member institutions with the excellent programming that defines us - from research projects like Creating Cohesive Paths to Civic Engagement to the Periclean Faculty Leadership (PFL) Program™, the Debating for Democracy (D4D)™ National Conference and D4D on the Road™ to our collaboration with the Project Pericles Program Directors on each campus.

We thank the Eugene M. Lang Foundation for this generous gift and many years of support and look forward to a bright future.

 

The New School to Host Project Pericles Debating for Democracy National Conference

On March 19 and 20, Project Pericles will hold its Debating for Democracy (D4D) National Conference, hosted by President David Van Zandt and The New School. Student leaders from Periclean campuses will be joined by college presidents, faculty, and foundation, government, and community leaders, and members of the media for a series of panels and workshops with leading experts.

All of the panels and workshops will focus on how students can take effective action on critical public policy issues. Topics include climate change and the evolving environmental movement; media and millennials; how to effectively advocate; and the role of non-profits in society. The conference will feature two interactive workshops, the first with leaders of successful non-profits about developing powerful narratives and the second on effective issue-based messaging.

For the full agenda please visit www.projectpericles.org.

 

Student Teams to Present at Legislative Hearing

A highlight of the Debating for Democracy (D4D) ™ National Conference is the Legislative Hearing in which teams of student leaders will present and defend their original legislative recommendations to a panel of government officials. The Legislative Hearing provides five teams of Periclean students-who have competed to participate-a forum to articulate their solutions to some of today's most pressing public policy issues by presenting before a "Legislative Committee," including U.S. Senator Harris Wofford (D-PA); U.S. Congressman Thomas Downey (D-NY); and the Honorable Edwina Richardson-Mendelson. Teams will compete for $5,000 in prize money.

Each year, Project Pericles holds a Letters to an Elected Official Competition and more than 75 students from around the country write their elected officials about issues they are passionate about. The five teams with the strongest letters then compete in the Legislative Hearing. We received many excellent letters from our Periclean colleges and universities. The letters proposed innovative solutions on a wide variety of issues ranging from the Arms Trade Treaty, to living wages, to local farms and food, to reporting of sexual assault in the military.

The five Letters to an Elected Official that will be featured in the Legislative Hearings are:

Bates College, "A Letter in Support of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and General Assistance Benefits for Non-Citizens ,"by Meghan Lynch, Eva Goldstein, and Ali Rabideau. This letter was sent to Governor Paul LePage (R-ME).

Carleton College, "A Letter in Support of Senate Resolution 40 and Current Diplomatic Negotiations with Iran," by Hannah Nayowith and Reilly Simon. This letter was sent to Senator Edward Markey (D-MA).

Macalester College, "A Letter in Support of a Death with Dignity Bill for Pennsylvania," by Sarah Coleman and Emmet Hollingshead. This letter was sent to State Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf (R-PA).

Occidental College, "A Letter in Support of an Amendment to SB 862 to Earmark Ongoing Cap and Trade Funds for Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC)," by Adrian Adams and Karen Romero. This letter was sent to State Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León (D-CA).

Rhodes College, "A Letter in Support of Net Neutrality by Reclassifying Internet Service as a Public Utility under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934," by Alexandra Dileo and Samuel Holder. This letter was sent to Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA).

At the Legislative Hearing on March 19, the winning team will receive a $3,000 award to develop an advocacy campaign related to the issue they wrote about. The four semifinalist teams will each receive a $500 award also to be used to develop an advocacy campaign to move their issue forward.  

We commend all of the Periclean students who participated in the Letters to an Elected Official Competition.

Over the past eight years, hundreds of teams from all 29 Periclean colleges and universities have participated in the Letters to an Elected Official competition. Student leaders and activists have worked on a wide range of issues, including: fracking, education reform, the Dream Act, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and mountaintop-removal coal mining. They have met with their elected officials and organized campaigns to raise awareness on campus and in their communities.


Member of Swarthmore 2014 Letters to an Elected Official Competition Team Meets with American Ambassador to Peru

When Mackenzie Welch and Jason Mendoza submitted their Letter to an Elected Official on human rights and coca fumigation in Colombia, Mackenzie never imagined that it would lead to a lunch with the American Ambassador to Peru, Brian Nichols, but that is what happened.

Their submission "A Letter to Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) concerning Human Rights Considerations and Effectiveness of U.S. Sponsored Coca Fumigation in Colombia" was one of six winners of the 2014 Letters to an Elected Official Competition. The pair received a $500 award to move their issue forward.

Hoping to gain greater insight into United States eradication policies in South America, Mackenzie interned with the State Department in Peru. While there she spoke to a DEA Field Intelligence Manager and the U.S. Department of State: Bureau of International Narcotics & Law Enforcement Director for Peru. Mackenzie came away from these meetings with a greater understanding of the need to pair eradication with development projects. These meetings eventually led to a lunch with Ambassador Nichols.

In addition to these meetings, Mackenzie and Jason conducted research on eradication policies. With a deeper understanding of the issues around eradication, the pair plan to present Senator Menendez with their policy recommendations this spring. As ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and one of the architects of the Western Hemisphere drug eradication programs, Menendez is uniquely positioned to act on the pairs' recommendations.

 

Project Pericles Presents Panel at the 2015 AAC&U Annual Meeting

At the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) Annual Meeting in January, Jan Liss, Project Pericles Executive Director, moderated a panel highlighting some of the work being conducted by Periclean campuses as part of Creating Cohesive Paths to Civic Engagement. Panelists discussed their unique pedagogical approaches to civic engagement as well as the projects they are undertaking with mini-grants received through Creating Cohesive Paths.

Jay Barth, M.E. and Ima Graves Peace Distinguished Professor of Politics and Bill and Connie Bowen Odyssey Professor at Hendrix College, discussed The Engaged Citizen course, a newly implemented requirement for first year students, as well as a mini-grant project to offer faculty leadership workshops to assist with the incorporation of civic engagement components into sections of The Engaged Citizen course.  

Laura Wenk, Dean of Curriculum and Assessment and Associate Professor of Cognition and Education at Hampshire College, provided an overview of Hampshire's civic engagement requirement that encourages students, with faculty assistance, to develop their own Campus Engaged Learning Activity course followed by a Community Engaged Learning Activity course. As part of their mini-grant, Hampshire is strengthening the documentation and reflection components of the experience by utilizing activities, e-portfolios, interviews, and workshops. They also plan on expanding student training prior to the students' engagement with the community.

Terry Bensel, Associate Provost, Director of the Gateway, and Professor of Environmental Science at Allegheny College, discussed structural changes the college is making to promote greater coherence among programs focused on civic engagement and social responsibility. Bensel is overseeing "The Allegheny Gateway [which], integrates curricular and co-curricular initiatives in the areas of global learning, civic engagement, and diversity. The Allegheny Gateway builds on the success (and continues to provide the programs and services) of the Center for Experiential Learning while expanding to include initiatives in the areas of diversity, undergraduate research, political participation, nationally competitive fellowship mentoring, and interdisciplinary studies."

Adrienne Falcόn, Director of Academic Civic Engagement in the Center for Community and Civic Engagement and Lecturer in Sociology at Carleton College, discussed Carleton's pathway approach that focuses on particular issue areas as a way of organizing and focusing the curricular and co-curricular. Falcόn notes, "While we also continue to offer the more episodic and unconnected experience, our efforts are more dedicated to the longer term evolution of individuals and projects that can lead to real social change." They are using their min-grant to strengthen assessment and tracking of students engaged in pathways.

Carleton's mini-grant also includes a partnership with Goucher College, Occidental College, and Spelman College designed to increase student awareness of civic engagement opportunities. Goucher is taking the lead on developing an online system for organizing and displaying civic engagement programing.

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 and The Teagle Foundation, our member colleges and universities are inventorying, mapping, strengthening, and developing more cohesive and integrated civic engagement programs to enable students in all disciplines to incorporate civic engagement into their courses of study.

   

Pericleans in the News  

 

RPI Students Help Design Certificate in Civic Responsibility as Part of Project Pericles Funded Project

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) is developing a Certificate in Civic Responsibility that they plan on introducing this fall. In January, 28 RPI students joined with Deans, faculty, and staff for an all day charrette to discuss the new certificate. The students focused on the many forms of civic engagement on campus that should be considered for inclusion in the certificate. Ten of the students will serve on a working group to provide feedback as RPI develops the certificate.

This work is undertaken as part of Project Pericles' Creating Cohesive Paths to Civic Engagement.

 

New concentration recognizes publicly engaged work of Bates students

By Emily Kane, Professor Sociology and Women & Gender Studies; Periclean Faculty Leader, Bates College

In spring of 2014, a group of Bates College faculty and staff began meeting to develop a new General Education Concentration (GEC) related to community and civic engagement. We are pleased to report that the new concentration, Knowledge, Action and the Public Good, was recently approved by the college's Curriculum and Calendar Committee. Its description captures the purpose and range: "This concentration is designed to recognize and cultivate two elements of the college's mission, informed civic action and responsible stewardship of the wider world. The concentration focuses on coursework and other learning experiences related to civic and community engagement at the local, state, regional, national and global levels, as well as exploration of the reciprocal co-creation of knowledge and its role in promoting the public good."

Faculty members from all corners of the college worked together with the staff of the Harward Center for Community Partnerships to come up with the new GEC. Drawing on the college's mission and the array of community engagement happening in our courses across the curriculum, as well as the range of richly reflective co-curricular activity already sponsored by the Harward Center, the concentration aims to help students deepen their understanding of engagement and reciprocity through the connections they will be encouraged to draw across experiences within a variety of departments, programs, and activities.

Students in the concentration will take courses tagged as "Community Engaged Learning" and other approved courses in at least three different departments or programs for a total of four courses. Opportunities for reflection and connection will be offered along the way, with a senior year reflection required as a culminating activity. We are delighted to have this new concentration available as one more avenue to advance community engaged work and recognize its importance to Bates students, faculty, staff, and community partners.


Widener Sociology Students Stand by Airport Workers in Support of Fair Wages

Excerpted from What's Up @ Widener

By 4:30 a.m. on a November morning, five Widener University students were driving up I-95 to the Philadelphia International Airport. They had no plans to board a plane. Instead, they were on a mission to support employees of aviation contractor Prime Flight who were protesting low wages and working conditions. By the next morning, the students found themselves on the local news, as well as in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Four of the students-Ashleigh Bothwell, Cory Barker, Nicolette Epifani, and Joseph McManamon-Simon-had learned about the Prime Flight workers' plight through in their sociology course, "Civic Engagement and Social Activism," taught by Dr. Stuart Eimer, Service-Learning Coordinator. The fifth student, Robert Miller, was inspired by Bothwell to attend the protest.

The day prior to the protest, Eimer had taken his students to a Philadelphia City Council hearing, which addressed legislation mandating that airlines contract with companies that have "labor-peace agreements." Many Prime Flight employees attended in support of this legislation and to further draw attention to the fact that they had yet to see pay increases despite an executive order signed by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter in May raising the minimum wage for employees hired by airport subcontractors.

"The trip to the Philadelphia City Council hearing was meant to provide exposure to the way social activism intersects with the political process," said Eimer. "Afterward, the class met with four airport workers who told them about their personal lives, their jobs, the way their incomes kept them mired in poverty, and the reasons that they had decided to take action. Students told me it was as if the readings from a broad array of their classes had suddenly come to life. It was experiential learning at its best."

"After marching with the workers," Bothwell said, "I want to get the message across that, at the end of the day, these are people working hard to support families, but often can't make ends meet after a back-breaking, 40-hour work week."

"I take Widener's mission to educate engaged citizens seriously," Eimer said. "Given the current lack of civic engagement in America, all forms of citizenship need to be cultivated and I applaud the way students took the initiative to support the airport workers."

 

Swarthmore Project Pericles Co-Program Director Publishes Article Rejecting the Dichotomy between Civic Engagement and Research

Ben Berger, Associate Professor of Political Science, Project Pericles Co-Program Director, and Periclean Faculty Leader at Swarthmore College, published "Experience and (Civic) Education" in the January edition of PS: Political Science and Politics as part of a symposium on the "false divide" between research and undergraduate teaching. Berger describes how insights gained from observing his students in the local community of Chester as part of his course, "Democratic Theory and Practice," led him to critically examine the overly broad use of the term "civic engagement" resulting in an article and part of a book. Offering other examples, Berger discusses research generated out of classes designed as part of the Periclean Faculty Leadership (PFL)™ Program.

Berger and Jan Liss are currently working on an edited volume documenting more of the research generated by the PFL Program as well as its other accomplishments.

In 2010, with multi-year grants from the Eugene M. Lang Foundation and The Teagle Foundation, Project Pericles launched the Periclean Faculty Leadership (PFL) Program. During the inaugural term of the program, 26 competitively selected Periclean Faculty Leaders created new Civic Engagement Courses (CECs) in 21 different disciplines; promoted civic engagement locally through lectures, town hall meetings, and public events; and advanced public scholarship nationally and internationally through publications and conference presentations.

 

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.