Fall 2017 Newsletter
The Periclean Progress E-Newsletter
Volume 14, September 2017
To view the Newsletter with photos: Fall 2017 Newsletter.
The Periclean Progress is a publication of Project Pericles, Inc., a not-for-profit organization that encourages and facilitates commitments by colleges and universities to include education for social responsibility and participatory citizenship as an essential element of their educational programs in the classroom, on the campus, and in the community.
National Office News:
Project Pericles Supports DREAMers
As an organization dedicated to promoting civic engagement in higher education, Project Pericles stands with the DREAMers. Through their advocacy of their cause and quest for social justice, the DREAMers embody the qualities that we seek to impart in all Pericleans. Students on Periclean campuses have been and continue to be actively engaged in promoting the DREAMers cause. We support them in these efforts.
Civic Engagement Guidebook Completed
Project Pericles just released a draft of our Civic Engagement Guidebook as part of our multi-year initiative Creating Cohesive Paths to Civic Engagement. The guidebook draws on best practices and lessons learned from the initiative and from our associated White Paper, Creating Cohesive Paths to Civic Engagement: Five Approaches to Institutionalizing Civic Engagement by Garret Batten, Adrienne Falcón, and Jan R. Liss. The Guidebook includes submissions from Allegheny College, Carleton College, Bates College, Goucher College, Occidental College, Pace University, and Wagner College.
Five Approaches to Institutionalizing Civic Engagement
Certificates and Minors
Intensive Programs-Civic Scholars
Entrepreneurial/Open Choice Models
Working with Community Partners
Assessment and Evaluation
We are treating the guidebook as a living document and plan on adding to it on a regular basis. While the initial focus is on the institutionalization and organization of civic engagement, there are many other topics that we plan to address including pedagogical methods and techniques, syllabi development, and an annotated bibliography.
If you would like to submit an entry for the guidebook, please let us know. The guidebook will be on the agenda at the 2017 Project Pericles Program Directors Conference (see below).
This work was made possible through the generous support of The Teagle Foundation and the Eugene M. Lang Foundation.
New Project Pericles Board Member, Helen Lang Suskin
Please join us in welcoming Helen Lang Suskin to our board. Helen has been familiar with the work of Project Pericles since the organization was a gleam in Gene Lang's eyes in 1999. He spoke with her and used her wise counsel as he developed Project Pericles. We are pleased to have her expertise, insight, and perspective on our board.
Helen led the Global Business Analytics and Insights team for the Emerging Markets Business Unit of Pfizer, Inc. In this role, she was responsible for ensuring delivery of fact and analytically-based customer insights that drove business decisions at the global, regional, and local level. Previously, Helen led the Market Analytics functions for the US and Commercial and Business Development, enabling investment in the highest value opportunities both within the Pfizer pipeline and external opportunities.
Helen joined Pfizer in 1988; before leading the Market Analytics function, she held roles of increasing responsibility within the Finance organization. Additionally, she had leadership roles in organization-wide transformations, including the Warner Lambert, Pharmacia and Wyeth integrations as well as a comprehensive review of sales and marketing practices. She also led Pfizer's philanthropic programs to expand access to free and reduced-cost prescription medications.
Before joining Pfizer, Helen spent five years as an agricultural engineer, advising and applying modern scientific and commercial practice for one of the largest farming conglomerates in Argentina. Helen is a mentor at The Lang School of Entrepreneurshipat Columbia University and is involved with an education initiative in Kenya, Africa. Helen holds an MBA from Columbia University, and a BS in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Update on D4D Letter to an Elected Official 2016 Student Teams and Their Projects
Megan Yocum ('17) and Tran Nguyen ('17), the student team from Berea College, filmed a Public Service Announcement (PSA), "Sincerely, a Kentuckian." Originally, the video was to "inform the public about KY Senate Bill 180 in order to prompt them to action" as the bill would allow business owners to deny services to LGBTQ customers based on religious beliefs. While developing the PSA, the bill passed in the Senate (but later not in the House).
Because Senator Jared Carpenter, the senator of Madison County where Berea lies, voted yes on this bill, Megan and Tran decided to frame their video as an open letter to Senator Carpenter, focusing on how students, faculty, and staff understand this bill and what impact it would have had on them, their friends, families, and communities. The pair filmed a diverse group of constituents on campus, over a three week period. As the film went into post-production, Megan explained that the "PSA is even more important now that SB 180 has been rewritten while the editing process of this project occurred."
The Carleton College team of Sharaka Berry ('18), Sarah Goldman ('17), Robert Harris III ('17), Maya Margolis ('19), and Jenni Rogan ('19), started a nonprofit, Heart of the Heartland, an agricultural-based educational program. In June, they held their first Young Farmer Summer Seminar. During this "five-week intensive agricultural program" students were placed with farmer mentors and also took "topical seminars in agricultural biology and policy (http://heartoftheheartland.com/young-farmer-summer-seminar/ )." Students participated in hands-on workshops at Northfield-area farms focusing on a different topic each week: water, soil, farm technology, farm business, and food systems/food justice, public policy, and more. The first cohort included students from Carleton College, Macalester College, and St. Olaf's College.
Heart of the Heartland grew out of the Carleton teams' support of the 2014 Farm Bill. As part of the D4D Letters to an Elected Official competition, the team wrote a letter to Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) in support of subsidizing crop insurance to allow for more diversified crops of fruits and vegetables and away from an overreliance on corn and soy. In turn, they argued, this would help secure healthy and nutritious food grown within the United States.
Amina Farías ('18) and Eleanor Neal at Pitzer College ('18)wrote "A Letter in Support of Medicaid-funded Mental Health Treatment and Recovery Support Programs for Justice-Involved Populations" to Representative Judy Chu (D-CA). They began their corresponding project by partnering with Prototypes Women's Center, which treats individuals and families' with addiction and mental health issues. Amina and Eleanor spent two hours a week facilitating a class for six women, where they worked with women on what resources would be most helpful in getting them to a point of stability. At this year's D4D National Conference, delegates Amina and Eleanor mapped out next steps for their project with students from around the country during the Social Action workshop.
Amina and Eleanor are currently planning a resource fair and developing their second class curriculum for the women at Prototypes. Their long-term goals are to further relationships between Pitzer students, the surrounding community, and the Prototypes Women's Center; to provide resources for the women at Prototypes, such as a professional clothing closet made up of local donations; and to create an action plan for other students to continue their initial work.
About The D4D Letter to an Elected Official Competition:
The competition engages students around public policy issues, the political process, and with their elected officials. Since 2008, hundreds of teams from all Periclean colleges and universities have participated in this competition. Every year, a panel of judges with significant legislative experience selects the five winning letters written by teams of students from Periclean campuses. Winning teams are selected based on their letters and their advocacy proposals.
Letters have proposed innovative solutions on a wide variety of issues ranging from implementing food waste management systems at the national level to advocating for financial literacy services for struggling families, to supporting redistricting that ensures equal access to a quality high school education in Pennsylvania. Letters are sent to elected officials throughout the United States.
Debating for Democracy (D4D)™ 2017-2018 D4D on the Road™ Workshops
We are pleased to partner with Midwest Academy for 2017-2018 D4D on the Road. The workshops provide both novice and seasoned activists alike with the skills they need to develop advocacy and education campaigns through effective messaging to policy makers, community leaders, and the public. Workshops are open to all including students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members.
During D4D on the Road™ workshops, seasoned organizers and activists will walk participants through the critical steps in running successful campaigns to win on issues they are passionate about.
Often, when we think about the world we want to see, it is difficult to know where to start to bring about change. To be effective, organizers must be able to translate the problems they see in their communities into effective solutions and then build thoughtful strategies to win those solutions. Effective strategies simultaneously build strong community groups and leaders and better position our movements for future wins.
The workshops will introduce a systematic framework to help participants identify solutions to problems they are concerned with and then build winning strategies to make change. Through small group exercises and role plays, with trainer feedback, the daylong session takes students from researching a problem to analyzing solutions, developing strategy, building people power and meeting effectively with decision-makers. Participants will leave with concrete tools, which they can put to use in a wide variety of public policy settings and efforts. Examples will be drawn from topics including climate change, immigration reform, LGBTQ rights, mass incarceration, race and inequality, and reproductive rights.
Project Pericles is excited to be partnering again with Midwest Academy, a national training institute committed to advancing the struggle for social, economic, and racial justice. From local neighborhood groups to statewide and national organizations, Midwest Academy has trained over 25,000 grassroots activists from hundreds of organizations and coalitions. Midwest Academy teaches an organizing philosophy, methods, and skills that enable people to actively participate in the democratic process.
Project Pericles Prepares for Student Choices - Student Voices (SCSV)
Project Pericles is gearing up for another year of Student Choices - Student Voices, our student engagement and voter registration program with a newly revised guidebook. SCSV is comprised of student-led task forces on our member campuses. These task forces work to encourage civic participation by hosting an array of events and activities about national issues for fellow students, faculty, staff, and community members. Students inspire their peers to organize similar activities on their own campus. Project Pericles facilitates information and strategy sharing between task forces. Pericleans have successfully registered thousands of voters and distributed important information about candidates and issues.
SCSV fuels engaged citizenship for students and community members by (1) sharing information and resources about candidates and important issues, (2) creating a space for constructive dialogue, and (3) supporting voter registration on campus and in the community. The three components of SCSV build on the collaborative spirit of our national consortium.
Program Directors Conference Hosted by Chatham University
The Project Pericles Program Directors Conference is scheduled for October 18 and 19 at Chatham University in Pittsburgh. We thank President David Finegold and Project Pericles Program Director Dana Brown for hosting us and are looking forward to learning more about Chatham and to many interesting conversations with our colleagues from around the country.
Project Pericles would like to extend a warm welcome to our new Pericleans Presidents and Provosts.
New Periclean Presidents and Provosts
Marjorie Hass, Rhodes College
Marvin Krislov, Pace University
Harold Martin, Jr., Morehouse College
Jennifer Drake, The Evergreen State College
Nira Herrmann, Pace University
Michael Hodge, Morehouse College
Debra Liebowitz, Drew University
Kathryn Graff Low, Bates College
Dale Scalise-Smith, Widener University
Mark Schneider, Ursinus College
Wendy Sternberg, Occidental College
Matthew Wood, New England College
Building Faculty Capacity at Bates College: The 2016 Publicly-Engaged Pedagogy Learning Community
By Darby K. Ray, Bates College
In a typical year at Bates College, around 800 students take at least one community-engaged learning (CEL) course. Almost every academic department and program offers one or more CEL course. However, developing a CEL course takes time, expertise, and strong working relationships with prospective community partners. How can busy faculty members fit such things in while maintaining their commitment to excellence in the classroom and their discipline? We might assume that the prudent course of action would be to earn tenure before venturing into the sometimes unpredictable waters of community-engaged teaching, but a strong argument can be made that the ideal time to integrate CEL into a course is during the initial phase of course design and implementation. At Bates, where the Harward Center for Community Partnerships provides comprehensive support for CEL, increasing numbers of pre-tenure faculty are successfully integrating community-engaged work into their courses, producing enhanced learning experiences for students, positive benefit for community partners, and gratifying teaching experiences for faculty (Continued in last section).
Project Pericles Program Director from Goucher and Colleague Run "Civic Engagement Boot Camp" in Austria
By Cass Freedland and Lindsay Johnson, Goucher College
In fall 2016, a compelling call came to our Arsht Center office at Goucher College- would we be interested in travelling to Vienna, Austria to conduct an intensive "American-style leadership and civic engagement boot camp" for Austrian college students as part of a collaborative program between the U.S. Embassy in Vienna and Cultural Vistas, a non-profit organization dedicated to global educational outreach? We were stunned and a bit curious; "Boot camp" isn't really our style when it comes to teaching, particularly around topics like leadership and civic engagement. And in Austria? Did we still remember the German we'd learned in high school? We knew that we had a unique opportunity in front of us. We both were up for a challenge that would push us outside of our professional comfort zone, and while we had no idea of how to approach such a task, we enthusiastically agreed to take a plunge (Continued in last section).
Pericleans in the News
Swarthmore College Develops Engaged Scholarship and Sustainability Fellowships - Students Take on Waste
The Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility helps faculty, students, and staff to connect Swarthmore College's curriculum to a range of local and global communities. We approach this goal through the lens of "Engaged Scholarship," Ernest Boyer's term for teaching and research that apply "the rich resources of the university to our most pressing social, civic, and ethical problems." The President's Sustainability Research Fellowship (or PSRF-pronounced "pea-surf"), now entering its second year, represents one of Swarthmore's most exciting, new examples of Engaged Scholarship. Sustainability Director Aurora Winslade, Lang Center Executive Director Ben Berger, and Environmental Studies Director Betsy Bolton together developed the PSRF program, which draws funding not only from the Lang Center and the Office of Sustainability but from President Valerie Smith's office. PSRF matches small teams of advanced students with staff and faculty mentors to research, develop, and implement projects in a year-long course and associated internship.
In 2016-17, the program's pilot year, ten undergraduate Fellows undertook a rich range of activities: redesigning Swarthmore's waste management system, developing a 3-year vision for campus woods stewardship, implementing Swarthmore's internal carbon price, launching behavioral change strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and creating a system to track sustainability progress across campus. Faculty mentorship helped to connect the students' paid internships-which ordinarily would be extracurricular activities-to their formal curricular studies, thus making the internships co-curricular.
As so often happens with Engaged Scholarship, the students' collaborations took on an emergent quality and paid dividends that faculty did not originally envision. In tackling waste reduction, for instance, Fellows united custodial staff and students by redefining waste as an environmental justice issue. In championing the campus woods, Fellows connected faculty and students with grounds and arboretum staff to engage not only the College provost and vice-presidents but also neighboring communities. As students learn, lead, and innovate, they apply their knowledge to pressing needs-true to the mission of Engaged Scholarship-and produce replicable solutions for our campus and beyond.
Profile in Engagement - Dillard's Project Pericles Program Director, Dr. Gary Clark
[Excerpted from an article by Rachel Graham in Dillard Today Magazine]
From the radio to the television, and in front of the classroom, Gary M. Clark's objective of empowering others remains unwavering. He's spent 27 years at Dillard University, where he is the Barron Hilton Endowed Professor in Political Science and director of the Dillard University Center for Law and Public Interest. In April, he was a panelist for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives ATF'S 2017 Diversity and Career Impact Program Business Meeting. He's working with the bureau to create a pipeline for Dillard graduates to join the organization, which is seeking to diversify and replenish its aging workforce. He serves as the secretary/treasurer of The Finance Authority of New Orleans, where they help people buy homes. "No one walks away from us unhappy-our money is below prime," commented Clark.
On his weekly radio show, Dr. Clark's Living Classroom, he covers topics ranging from community and financial literacy to religion, and for him, it all relates to politics.
"My college political science professor once told me, 'every time is a great time to be a student of politics'," recounts Dr. Clark. On the heels of one of the most storied presidential campaigns in U.S. history, and as the City of New Orleans prepares for what could be a landmark municipal election, that sentiment has even greater relevance.
As the Revius O. Ortique, Jr. Endowed Chair for Politics and Social Thought, Clark strives to instill a respect for social responsibility that will stay with students beyond their time at Dillard. One part of The Center for Law and Public Interest's dual track assists students interested in the legal profession with LSAT preparation, undergraduate research opportunities, and internships. The Center's Justice Revius Ortique, Jr. Mock Trial Courtroom provides trial advocacy training and simulation and attracts noted legal practitioners and social justice advocates. It has also hosted mock trial competitions and preparation, and in February, it was the site for oral arguments by the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Center's Public Interest arm lets students explore civic engagement in the political process both at home and abroad. Through Project Pericles, students learn how to engage the community, be effective lobbyists, and impact key decision makers. At the National Coalition of Black Civic Participation, students are trained in community organizing and issue identification.
"Simply put, my professional goal has always been to help individuals' dreams come true," says Clark. He is a well on his way to doing that for the students he teaches and the community he serves as he leads the Center in its mission to help students understand their role in improving politics.
Chatham University Students Engage with Elected Officials and Community Members
In spring 2017, public policy students in Chatham University's Policy Analysis Field Experience course got up close and personal with the policymaking process. Political Scientist Dr. Jennie Sweet-Cushman partnered with a local borough council to identify a policy making opportunity for her students and then guided the students in researching and developing a new borough facility use policy proposal for the council. The students met with elected officials and community stakeholders, identified community needs and priorities, researched similar policies and legal considerations, created criteria for evaluating numerous policy options, and drafted a complete policy for the council's consideration. The students prepared a briefing book on the issue for all members of council and presented their final recommendation at a council meeting in April. The recommendation was entirely developed and written by the students.
Throughout this process, students not only experienced the real-world application of the policymaking process, but were also faced with considering challenges that arise for local government officials. The students had to consider difficult issues of equity and fairness and wrangle with legal considerations to develop a policy that would work best, if not perfectly, for community residents. The work also benefitted the borough, as they are a small community with few resources and a primarily volunteer council that would have struggled to devote the time and resources needed to systematically investigate and formulate facility use policy options.
The Policy Analysis Field Experience course supports Chatham University's general education requirement that students complete three credits of professional engagement, one credit of which is an in-major service learning credit.
Building Faculty Capacity at Bates College: The 2016 Publicly-Engaged Pedagogy Learning Community (Continued from Featured Articles)
One new avenue of support for both pre-tenure and tenured faculty is the Publicly-Engaged Pedagogy (PEP!) Learning Community, which saw a successful launch during the fall semester and whose fruits were abundantly evident during the subsequent winter and spring terms. The PEP Learning Community was open to all interested faculty members, with an emphasis on pre-tenure faculty. Originally designed for a cohort of six faculty members, the program was expanded to ten to meet faculty demand from across the disciplines. Those ten faculty members met together once a month during the fall semester -- joined by Harward Center staff members and buoyed by dinner from a local restaurant -- to develop a new community-engaged learning course. Attention was paid to diverse topics and tasks, including student learning outcomes, syllabus language, course assignments, community engagement ethics, logistics like transportation, and the all-important question of community reciprocity and benefit. In addition to the monthly cohort gatherings, PEP faculty had one-on-one consultations with Harward Center staff to support their course design and partnership building.
As a result of the PEP Learning Community, six new community-engaged learning courses were taught for the first time during the subsequent winter and spring terms. These courses featured diverse community-engaged projects in Politics, Environmental Studies, Dance, Religious Studies, Physics and Astronomy, and Biology. For example, in a Religious Studies course on Death, Dying, and Afterlife, professor Alison Melnick's students complemented their learning about Asian religious traditions with class visits from local leaders of Western traditions such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. At the end of the semester, these leaders and others from their congregations joined the Bates students for a Community Teach-In featuring interactive poster presentations by Bates students to convey their learning about Asian traditions, followed by a dessert reception and small-group discussions, facilitated by Bates students, during which members of the different Western religious traditions were invited to share insights and practices from their own traditions while learning about traditions different than their own. In a large introductory course in Astronomy, professor Aleks Diamond-Stanic gave his students the option of doing a community-engaged project, and 77 out of 83 of them jumped at the chance, working together to produce a wildly successful "Astronomy Extravaganza" for local school children and their families. In Biology, professor Andrew Mountcastle challenged students in his Science Communication course to develop skits and interactive presentations to engage Lewiston Middle School students in learning about contemporary issues in science. The middle schoolers came to Bates on two different days to enjoy creative and compelling lessons about a range of topics from ocean acidification (featuring a memorable Nemo skit) to bee colony collapse (with an audience-participation activity featuring Queen Bey). At the end of each presentation, middle school students took a moment to jot down their learning and questions, and these reflections eventually formed the basis for small-group discussion with Bates students over lunch. In Literatures of Agriculture, professor Misty Beck's students enjoyed a range of community-engaged experiences, including volunteer placements at Whiting Farm in Auburn, the Somali Bantu Community Association, and the New Roots Cooperative Farm. Based on these immersive experiences, students created written and photographic portraits of their experiences with agriculture, some of which they shared at the end of the semester when they visited an active Grange Hall in Vassalboro, where they learned about the traditions of the grange and shared their findings about the trends and developments they observed in their fieldwork. In professor Jacob Longaker's Experiences in Policy Process course, students complemented classroom learning about the behind-the-scenes negotiations, maneuvering, and strategy that shape public policy by engaging in hands-on work with community partners advancing legislative initiatives at the state level. Some of the projects were primarily research-based, with students collecting information to help with education and advocacy efforts; other projects were more advocacy focused, with students communicating directly with members of the voting public about specific issues. Partners included the Maine Prisoner's Advocacy Coalition, the Prevent Harm environmental advocacy group, the Maine People's Alliance, Equality Maine, and the American Cancer Association.
"This has been the richest teaching experience I've had in 25 years. Truly. Straight up." Such was the testimony of one of the PEP faculty participants who reflected on this first foray into community-engaged teaching. While there were certainly bumps along the way, the inaugural PEP cohort members were unanimous in their appreciation for the opportunity to journey with each other, with Harward Center staff, and with their students and community partners into the land of publicly-engaged pedagogy. Feedback from students and partners was equally positive (perhaps a story for another day).
About the author - Darby K. Ray is Director, Harward Center for Community Partnerships; Donald W. & Ann M. Harward Professor of Civic Engagement; and Project Pericles Program Director; Bates College
Project Pericles Program Director from Goucher and Colleague Run "Civic Engagement Boot Camp" in Austria (Continued from Featured Articles)
In fall 2016, a compelling call came to our Arsht Center office at Goucher College- would we be interested in travelling to Vienna, Austria to conduct an intensive "American-style leadership and civic engagement boot camp" for Austrian college students as part of a collaborative program between the U.S. Embassy in Vienna and Cultural Vistas, a non-profit organization dedicated to global educational outreach? We were stunned and a bit curious; "Boot camp" isn't really our style when it comes to teaching, particularly around topics like leadership and civic engagement. And in Austria? Did we still remember the German we'd learned in high school? We knew that we had a unique opportunity in front of us. We both were up for a challenge that would push us outside of our professional comfort zone, and while we had no idea of how to approach such a task, we enthusiastically agreed to take a plunge.
For context, the Generation Next Youth Leadership Initiative (GNYLI) was designed as a year-long program, to give Austrian university students the opportunity to examine the dynamic processes of refugee and migrant integration while learning the principles of civic education, leadership theory, and community engagement through an intensive leadership development program in the United States.
By early December, we contemplated our decision to say "yes" to this proposal. Having wrapped up a difficult fall semester, in a politically-charged academic landscape at Goucher, and an even more politically-charged United States, there was so much to consider -cultural differences around leadership, language barriers, societal relationships with refugees in Europe, leadership content choices (Ever googled "leadership?" There are over 70,000 reference books.), jet lag, did Austria have the kind of flip-chart paper that sticks to the walls, or would we need to bring tape, etc. Not to mention the status of U.S. Embassies around the world, and our concerns about student participants' interest in "American-style" leadership workshops. Our worry list grew long.
In late December, we learned the 20 students participating in our workshop would be the same students traveling to the United States over the summer. Goucher would host the first week of their US experience. This allowed us to think about the experience in chapters, structurally breaking our learning experience into two parts - setting the leadership framework and introducing definitions while in Austria, then deep-diving during our time together in Baltimore.
As the March 11th date approached, we packed our bags with warm clothes, Goucher promotional materials, exchanged a few Euros, and made our way to the gorgeous city of Vienna with colleagues from the Cultural Vistas program. The U.S. Embassy in Vienna hosted our first meeting with the students, at the Hard Rock Café, on a trendy street loaded with well-known chain restaurants and cafes. We took public transit with the large group from the hotel, and there was nervous energy all around. Several of the students already knew each other, from local organizations and student leadership clubs, but many were meeting for the first time. As we noshed on sliders, spring rolls, and other American delights, mixing and mingling with staff from the State Department, we felt anxious about what was ahead of us, although the giddy energy and warmth from the students put us largely at ease. The Chargé D'affaires assured us that this was indeed a wonderful and unique group of Austrian students, one that he happily remarked represented a much more diverse Austria than we'd likely see while in Vienna. Several of the students were refugees themselves, from Syria and Iraq, while others had migrated as young children from war-torn countries. Many were Muslim, a minority religion in Austria, and were in leadership roles with national associations for Muslim youth. All were engaged, in some capacity, in work or research around migration and refugee resettlement and integration. We were all in for quite a learning experience from each other.
The next day, we headed to Amerika Haus, a cultural center operated by the US Embassy. We had been tasked to create a "Leadership Bootcamp: American-style", which we took literally and seriously. We brought our obnoxious American energy and immediately asked our students (several in their late 20s, one a doctoral student studying mathematics) to stand up and engage in good, old-fashioned American name games. We had them answer silly questions while in wagon wheel circles and dove into more serious questions with a four-corners exercise. In a matter of an hour and a half, we found that the majority of our students believed that great leaders were born (not developed) and that leaders must be charismatic to be effective. As we expected, most of our participants believed that they did not have real leadership qualities, because they weren't "exceptional". As our large and small group conversations dissected top-down leadership norms in Austria, we introduced coalition-building, social change theory, and relational leadership models. We introduced the concept of followership and challenged charismatic leaders. We marched through 100+ years of American leadership theory and discussed the advancing needs of "leadership" in our societies. We used music as a metaphor for leadership and explored the differences (both good and bad) between the orchestra and improvisational jazz. A budding conversation about access and equity for Muslim youth in leadership structures in Austria was started, and it pushed a few beyond their comfort zones. We started to see perspectives shift as many students had lightbulb moments about their own engagement in local communities, reconsidering their positions that they were "not leaders". We were having a blast, and the ten hours flew.
As the end of the workshop neared, we gathered our tired but enlightened group in a circle and asked participants what they learned or valued most about the day. Many shared that they were used to sitting quietly in a lecture room and having information transmitted to them - the interactive and reflective methods we had chosen were initially a bit jarring (as was our incessant smiling), but ultimately something they genuinely enjoyed and deeply appreciated. They loved the small group problem-solving activities we'd woven into the day and the frequent opportunities for reflection and feedback. We clearly learned the value of making time stand still - we dedicated the time that was needed to each discussion, rather than worrying about pushing through all the content in this one venue. After all, we had a week to fine-tune our message once these remarkable young adults came to Goucher College. The program wrapped up with many hugs, and excitement about the next leg of the journey in July.
With great anticipation, we were reunited the second week of July. The strength of the bond between us was startling, and it felt like the months between the workshops had been one long night's sleep. Despite some jet lag and a rough transition to the "over-air-conditioned" rooms of the US, we dove into difficult topics together. Over six days, we explored racial identity, race-power-privilege dynamics in leadership, the Baltimore Uprising following Freddie Grey's death, historical redlining of neighborhoods in cities throughout America. We delved into personal leadership styles, using a few more of those "American-style" activities and introduced them to several of our great refugee-serving community partners in Baltimore. The students had an intimate conversation about leadership with our president, Dr. José Bowen, attended a Baltimore Orioles baseball game (we lost to the Cubs), drank soda with ever-present ice cubes (not a standard item in Austria), devoured locally-made ice cream and other Maryland standards (Old Bay, Berger cookies, and crab cakes). The students enjoyed free time at the mall, playing volleyball on the Res Quad, and spending time with Goucher students. Thanks to a faculty colleague, we had a two-hour crash course in religion in America and spent time visiting with the Islamic Society of Baltimore.
When the week was over, we saw transformed people in front of us - intellectually, emotionally, and socially. They had come to understand themselves and appreciate the strengths that each brought to the conversation. They grappled with top-down leadership versus bottom-up community organizing and realized that they could be effective leaders and followers. They pushed each other on issues of equity in Austria, several bravely sharing their experiences of being marginalized in leadership experiences, and their perceptions around racism in Austria and the United States. They asked hard questions of their guest lecturers, explored parallels in the refugee crisis happening in Europe and the attitudes and policies towards refugees in America, and spent a lot of time laughing (and snapchatting).
They left us for a red-eye flight to Des Moines, Iowa (which, we learned, they loved, thanks to some amazing home hospitality, some fresh corn, and visits with organizations serving refugees). Up next was a three-day trip to San Diego and a visit to the US-Mexico border before they headed back east for an opportunity to shadow organizations in Washington, DC. We joined the students in DC for their final session where they presented their action plans, the cumulative work they had begun at our boot camp in March and continued to write (or re-write, as the case was for most) during their three-week tour.
The students presented thoughtful, informed action plans that had integrated so many of the ideas and concepts we'd been discussing together for the last five months. We saw a shift in language and in approach-an articulate and developed perspective on coalition-building, shared leadership, and civic capacity. They were both critical and impressed with what they'd seen in the four US cities; impressed with the creativity and horizontal leadership they saw over and over again, and yet critical of the radically shifting landscape of US law and policy related to refugees and migrants in America. More than once, they questioned the idealism of the "American Dream", and yet found truth in shared narratives about the capacity to make great things happen with brave, bold ideas, and a willingness to sometimes fail. They've proposed collaborative organizations, hoping to leverage each other's contacts and existing relationships. They want to strengthen their work collectively and returned to Austria feeling empowered and connected. Though they are a diverse group of students, from varied disciplines, they found ways to support each other's strengths and deeply respect each other's professional aspirations.
As we offered a bittersweet auf wiedersehen to the students, we found ourselves remarkably emotional about our experience. A stark departure from our initial hesitancy, we craved more time together, more opportunities to sit individually and share ideas about the projects they will launch in Austria this fall. We wanted more boot camps. More silly activities. More opportunities to push and challenge and grow together. But just as our four-hour Sound of Music tour in Salzburg taught us, all great things must come to an end. And we know this is just the beginning for this talented group of students. They will be launching careers and writing books and sharing lectures with this wonderfully-rich intercultural exchange in their arsenal (and a newfound capacity to endure ice cubes and air-conditioning), and we've been changed, too.
Our advice to you? When asked to do something completely outside of your comfort zone, take the plunge, acknowledge your fears and trust your instincts. And order the Wienerschnitzel.
About the authors - Cass Freedland is the France-Merrick Director of Community-Based Learning and Project Pericles Co-Program Director, Goucher College. Lindsay Johnson is the Associate Director, Community-Based Learning, Roxana C. Arsht '35 Center for Ethics and Leadership; Goucher College.
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Periclean Colleges & Universities
Allegheny College * Bates College * Berea College
Bethune-Cookman University * Carleton College * Chatham University
Dillard University * Drew University * Elon University
The Evergreen State College * Goucher College * Hampshire College
Hendrix College * Macalester College * Morehouse College
New England College * The New School * Occidental College * Pace University
Pitzer College * Reed College * Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Rhodes College * St. Mary's College of Maryland * Skidmore College
Swarthmore College * Ursinus College * Wagner College
Whitman College * Widener University * The College of Wooster
Executive Director: Jan R. Liss
Assistant Director: Garret Batten
Program Associate: Elisabeth Weiman
Program Intern: Victoria Gonzalez
Board of Directors
Founder and Chair Emeritus: Eugene M. Lang (1919-2017)
Chair: Neil R. Grabois
Vice-Chair: Richard Ekman
Treasurer: David A. Caputo
Chair: Richard Guarasci, Wagner College
Vice-Chair: Steven G. Poskanzer, Carleton College
National Board of Advisors
Co-Chairs: Sen. Nancy Kassebaum Baker & Hon. Kurt L. Schmoke
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