Debating for Democracy (D4D)™ is a series of distinctive campus-based programs that represents the mission of Project Pericles in action: D4D Letters to an Elected Official Competition, D4D National Conference, D4D on the Road™ workshops, and a number of co-curricular programs. D4D promotes civic engagement and effective advocacy skills among a wide range of students. Students acquire the knowledge and skills they need to advance their issues and to get their messages across to elected officials, fellow students, community groups, and the media.
Students have undertaken significant campaigns and projects:
D4D On The Road
The D4D on the Road workshops hosted at Periclean colleges and universities provide training in leadership development, media strategy, coalition building, and effective messaging. In addition to their own students and staff, hosting Periclean campuses around the country welcome students from other local colleges and universities as well as community members. Using our carefully designed model, advocacy experts empower students, faculty, staff, and community members to advance their particular issue or cause. Participants identify new strategies for making change, practice developing and delivering an effective advocacy message, and build relationships to support and sustain their work.
Since 2008, Project Pericles has trained more than 3,400 participants at Periclean colleges and universities across the United States. All of the Periclean campuses have participated in D4D on the Road. Through these day-long workshops, participants learn to work within the democratic processes to improve the condition of society. Utilizing a series of dynamic exercises, participants learn strategies for developing effective messages, critically analyzing the opposition's message, and the importance of thoroughly understanding their target audiences.
Project Pericles appreciates the generous support of the Eugene M. Lang Foundation and our Periclean colleges and universities for supporting the 2020-2021 D4D on the Road workshops. Previous funders have included The Henry Luce Foundation and The Spencer Foundation.
D4D National Conference
At the D4D National Conference, student leaders from Periclean campuses across the country are joined by college presidents, faculty, foundation representatives, government officials, community leaders, and members of the media to participate in a series of panels and workshops with leading experts on civic engagement, education, the environment, journalism, social entrepreneurship, and public policy.
The National Conference features a Legislative Hearing in which teams of students compete for $5,000 in prize money that is used to develop advocacy and educational campaigns around critical issues. Project Pericles designed the conference to provide students with concrete steps they can take to move the issue they wrote about, and other issues, forward. Students are encouraged and expected to return to their campuses and advance civic and political engagement among their classmates.
Above are highlights from the 2019 D4D Legislative Hearing, a highlights of the D4D National Conference. Macalester College, Pitzer College, Swarthmore College, Ursinus College, and Whitman College, did an excellent job at the Legislative Hearing discussing their policy proposals.
The 2019 D4D National Conference was hosted by Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts at The New School in New York City on March 28 and 29, 2019. The conference agenda is available here.
Conference presenters have included:
D4D Letter To An Elected Official Competition
The D4D Letter to an Elected Official Competition engages students around public policy issues, the political process, and with their elected officials. Since 2008, hundreds of teams from Periclean colleges and universities have participated in this competition. In addition to writing a letter to an elected official, we ask students to share a project proposal about how they would use their award. Every year, a panel of judges with significant legislative experience select five winning letters written by teams of students. Project Pericles awards prizes to the winning student teams to support their efforts in moving their issues forward locally and nationally.
The 2022 letters proposed innovative solutions on a wide variety of issues ranging from policing to education access, and from voting rights to reproductive healthcare. The letters were sent to elected officials throughout the United States.
We look forward to working with the finalist teams of the 2022 D4D Letters to an Elected Official Competition throughout the 2022-2023 academic year. The finalist letters are available by selecting the letter titles below.
Drew University, “A Letter to Introduce New Legislation to Authorize Non-Governmental Organizations to Oversee Immigration and Customs Enforcement Treatment and Education of Sexual Assault Victims in ICE.” to Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ).
By: Jose Barahona (’25), Cameryn Brown (’25), Ashley Kibel (’25)
The New School, “A Letter Proposing the Federal Legalization of the Cultivation, Sale, Possession, and Recreational Use of Cannabis.” to Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY).
By: Katrina Butler (’23) and Noor Lima Boudakian (’23)
Pitzer College, “A Letter to Support Legislation to Increase Corporate Accountability Surrounding the Environment, Political Action, Taxation, and Leadership Diversity.” to Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
By: Alaina Neuburger (’23) and Hava Sprung (’24)
Swarthmore College, “Letter in Support of H.R.2310 Climate Change Education Act Providing Comprehensive Climate Change Education for America’s Youth.” to Representative Leanne Krueger (D-PA)
By: Aqua Withers Carello (’25), Kayla Miller (’25), and Katie Ryu (’25)
Wagner College, “Letter to Support Assembly Bill A7807 establishing the LGBTQ+ Long-Term Care Facility Residents’ Bill of Rights to receive Equal and Culturally Appropriate Treatment.” to Michael Cusick (D-NY).
By: Jacquline Guzman (’24) and Ava De La Cruz (’23)