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 2018-2019 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.
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 2019 letters proposed innovative solutions to a wide variety of issues including climate change, education access, food deserts, gun violence and public health research, homelessness, international health care, K-12 education and student mentoring, prison reform, single-payer/universal health care, and voter engagement and registration for high school students. These letters were sent to elected officials throughout the United States. An elected official who served as one of the external evaluators wrote, "I hope you will tell the students how much I enjoyed reading their letters and how much I appreciated their thoughtfulness as they addressed such pressing policy issues."
We look forward to working with the winning and finalist teams of the 2019 D4D Letters to an Elected Official Competition throughout the 2019-2020 academic year. The five finalist letters are available here.
Pitzer College,"A Letter in Support of the Healthy California Act (S.B. 562) that would Establish a State Based Universal Health Care System"
to California State Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez (D)
By Christian Cabuñag ('20) and Ray Hill-Cristol ('21)
Whitman College, "A Letter to Introduce New Legislation to Prohibit Insurance Companies and Employers from Discriminating Against Workers Who Seek Compensation after an Injury, Based on Immigration Status"
to Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)
By Salma Anguiano ('22) and Ameliz Price-Dominguez ('22)
Macalester College,"A Letter Proposing Alternate Accountability Measures for Elder Care Abuse in the Older and Vulnerable Adults Rights and Protection Act of 2018 (S.F. 3088), which would Reward Assisted Living Facilities for Taking Proactive Steps to Prevent Elder Abuse"
to Minnesota State Senator Karin Housley (R)
By Fiona Adams ('20) and Kai Akimoto ('22)
Swarthmore College, "A Letter in Support of Driving 100% of Public School Funding through Governor Tom Wolf's Fair Funding Formula (H.B. 1552)"
to Pennsylvania State Representative Leanne Krueger Braneky (D)
By Zoe Jannuzi ('22) and Gabriella Vetter ('22)
Ursinus College, "A Letter in Support of the HER Act (H.R.671) to Address the Impact of the Global Gag Rule on the Delivery of International Health Care"
to Representative Anthony Brown (D-MD)
By Sophie Auerbach ('21), Samantha Hayslett ('19), and Abigail Peabody ('22)
(Presented by Sophie Auerbach and Abigail Peabody)