Fall 2012 newsletter
The Periclean Progress E-Newsletter
Fall 2012, Volume 9
National Office News
Project Pericles White Paper Explores Insights from Periclean Faculty Leadership (PFL) Program™
Project Pericles recently released its latest White Paper, The Periclean Diamond: Linking College, Campuses, Communities, and Colleagues via Social and Civic High Engagement Learning. The White Paper explores insights from the PFL Program, in which 26 faculty leaders received matching grants to create new Civic Engagement Courses (CECs), organize campus-wide civic engagement activities, develop community partnerships, engage in public scholarship, and serve as civic education advocates and leaders both locally and nationally. The PFL program was generously supported by the Eugene M. Lang Foundation and The Teagle Foundation.
By extending civic pedagogy to the campus, connecting undergraduate education with community input and engagement, and linking all of these projects with faculty development, professional interchanges, reciprocal peer review, and public scholarship, the PFL Program has developed a promising, replicable, and sustainable model of civic education. These 26 courses in the fine arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences add to more than 100 existing CECs, and build upon the teachings from the Civic Engagement Course (CEC) Program™.
The Teagle Foundation is currently featuring the White Paper on its website and it is also available for download from Project Pericles. The White Paper was written by Ben Berger, Associate Professor of Political Science and Periclean Faculty Leader at Swarthmore College, and Jan R. Liss, Executive Director of Project Pericles.
Debating for Democracy (D4D)™ Winners Produce Video "Effective Communication with Elected Officials: Tips and Tricks from Those on the Inside"
By Garret Batten
Earlham College juniors David Schutt and Clara Stuligross recently completed a video on how to communicate effectively with elected officials. Featuring Representative Paul D. Tonko (D-NY) and congressional staffers, the video will be distributed to students at all Periclean colleges and universities, and is also available on the Project Pericles website.
Paul D. Tonko (D-NY) in Video - "Effective Communication With Elected Officials"
Schutt and Stuligross emphasize that elected officials pay attention to constituents who reach out to them. By engaging with elected officials, individuals and groups can have a significant impact on issues - a view that echoes the underlying philosophy of the D4D Program. In the video, Representative Tonko comments, "Constituent interaction is absolutely critical. It's not only helpful; it's essential."
Congressional staffers also share effective tactics for meetings with elected officials, including having specific requests and using personal stories. They emphasize the effectiveness of letters to elected officials and letters to the editor in newspapers, including student newspapers.
At the 2012 Debating for Democracy National Conference, Schutt and Stuligross took first place in the Legislative Hearing for their defense of their "Letter in Support of the Budget Control Act" - written to U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). They urged Senator Gillibrand to continue supporting the Budget Control Act and, specifically, the sequestration provision reducing the Pentagon's budget by a trillion dollars. The authors recommended reallocating these funds to educational programs.
The pair spent the summer in Washington, D.C. as interns - Schutt in Congress and Stuligross at the Environmental Protection Agency. While in D.C., they used part of their $3,000 award from the Legislative Hearing to produce the video.
National Office Announcements
Project Pericles thanks the Ford Foundation for hosting our Presidents' Council meeting on November 5. This was Swarthmore President Rebecca Chopp's first meeting as Chair of the Presidents' Council. We thank Macalester President Brian Rosenberg for his many years of service as Chair.
We thank Ursinus President Bobby Fong, Project Pericles Program Director Christian Rice, and the Ursinus College faculty, staff, and students for hosting our Program Directors meeting from November 27 to 29.
My Path to Pericles
By Domenick Scudera
My path to becoming Ursinus College's 2011 Periclean Faculty Leader was a circuitous one. My heart, rather than my head, led me to Project Pericles and to the development of my course, Community-Based Theater and Civic Engagement.
My story begins in 2008 when I was granted a sabbatical. Although this is meant to be a time to focus on research, all I really wanted to do was ... nothing. I was exhausted. I had helped found Ursinus' Theater and Dance department, and my work schedule had been hectic for some time. For the first two weeks of my sabbatical, I allowed myself plenty of leisure time. As my thinking cleared, I realized that I had been working too hard. It was not healthy. I needed to find time for myself again. I decided that I would offset my research agenda by spending my free hours doing something rejuvenating and far removed from academe and the performing arts.
My plan was to train one of my dogs to be a therapy dog. A local kennel offered a course and, since I love being with my dogs, the training would keep me active doing something fun and worthwhile. I trusted that my dog Festus, a three-legged amputee, would be a good inspiration to patients in hospitals. We trained diligently and, after six weeks, we were a certified pet therapy team visiting patients in hospitals several mornings a week. When I started my teaching schedule again the next semester, I carved out time to continue our visits. The positive responses I received from patients and hospital staff members were immediate and constant: "If he can do it, I can do it," I heard, or, "I will work harder on my exercises now that I have met him." Volunteering with Festus allowed me to put aside my problems and stresses, and to be mindful of the present moment. I could focus on others' needs, plus give myself a much-needed boost every few days.
My newfound, fulfilling work as a volunteer began to shape more than my personal life. The first, and most immediate, shift occurred in the project that I had planned for my sabbatical. I wanted to share what I was learning about service and dogs, so I developed a solo performance, "Festus the Three-Legged Wonder Dog," focused on themes of difference, disability, and community. I workshopped the evolving piece in several places, eventually premiering it in the Philadelphia Fringe Festival in 2008 to positive press reviews and sold-out houses. Since then, I have been invited to perform the show at a variety of venues, some theatrical and some academic.
At the same time I was volunteering and performing my show, I saw the call for applications to Project Pericles for the development of civic engagement courses. Since I had been so steeped in service, the prospect of investigating theater created for the purpose of community building and/or healing was attractive. I applied and was accepted. It was thrilling. Project Pericles would allow me to join my passion for theater with my newly gained appreciation for community service. In doing research for my Community-Based Theater course, my eyes were opened to others who were crafting stage work with and for specific communities. Some artists had charitable purposes, some therapeutic, others political. Whole new ways of making theater opened up to me, including documentary and verbatim theaters, Boal's Theater of the Oppressed, Playback Theater, and so on. I was fascinated and invigorated to bring this type of theater to my students.
The course I developed became a mix of lecture and practical studio work. For each unit of the course, I introduced the history, theories, and artists of a particular community-based theater practice. Students were required to delve into models of successful artists/practitioners in the field and to emulate those artists by creating their own works. For instance, after studying documentary theater and following the example of Anna Deavere Smith, students identified communities in need in our area, interviewed members of those communities, and distilled those interviews into scripts. Using the communities' own voices, and building upon what they had learned, the students crafted plays that shared their insight into the lives of others. One group of students, for example, interviewed residents at a local nursing home and developed a script that stressed commonalities between the elderly residents and Ursinus students. They rehearsed and eventually performed their scripts. The process introduced new ways of engaging with people who lacked voices in our town and brought those communities' stories to light. One student, in an evaluation, wrote, "I learned much about the societal and social power that theater can have to enact change, to unite communities, to enact catharsis." Another student commented, "This course is really great for ... opening students to becoming more conscious about their community and instilling the want to help others with the gifts they have."
For me, the rewards of this course continue to present themselves. I was invited to be on a panel of Periclean professors at the 2011 Association of American Colleges and Universities where, for the first time, I spoke with academics outside my discipline about pedagogy. I added a civic engagement component to my Introduction to Theater class and it has quickly become many students' favorite section of the course.
The activity I chose to take me away from my work has become a central part of my work and life. My path to Project Pericles may be unusual, but the rewards have rejuvenated my research, inspired my teaching, and have instilled new understandings about the power of theater in my students.
This piece first appeared as part of a longer article, "The True Value of a Sabbatical" in The Chronicle of Higher Education (October 3, 2012).
Domenick Scudera, M.F.A., is a Professor of Theater and the Periclean Faculty Leader at Ursinus College and a frequent blogger for The Huffington Post.
Pericleans in the News
When joining Project Pericles, colleges and universities pledge to incorporate civic engagement and social responsibility across the curriculum, campus, and community. This section of the newsletter documents these commitments.
Bates College Periclean Faculty Leader Publishes Article on her Periclean Work
During her term as Periclean Faculty Leader, Emily Kane's work culminated in a campus-community conversation about the politics of knowledge in community-based research. The event was conducted as part of the Public Works in Progress series, sponsored by the college's Harward Center for Community Partnerships. The conversation offered an opportunity for both campus and community members to comment on Kane's research into how students view the role of academic partners and community partners in the knowledge-making process.
After further refinement based on that feedback, Kane published the resulting article, "Student Perceptions of Community-Based Research Partners and the Politics of Knowledge," in the November 2012 issue of The Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning. Reporting on her analysis of data collected from students in an advanced seminar on "Public Sociology," Kane notes in the piece: "Student perceptions that frame community partners as the recipients of academic expertise are differentiated from those that validate partner expertise as essential to the co-creation of knowledge. Evidence is presented indicating that appropriately structured courses, especially those supported by robust institutional infrastructure for community-engaged learning, can (and should) encourage students to recognize community partners as valuable sources of knowledge."
Pitzer Awarded Fulbright-Hays Group Project Abroad Grant
Pitzer College has been awarded a Fulbright-Hays Group Project Abroad grant to take seven local school teachers and three Pitzer students on a five-week study-tour of Nepal next summer. The grant will fund the Pitzer College Educators in Nepal initiative, a program designed to help improve middle and high school education by immersing teachers in the language and culture of a developing country with a long and rich history.
The project was initiated by three members of the Pitzer College community who will also lead the trip: Nigel Boyle, director of the Institute for Global/Local Action and Study (IGLAS), Mike Donahue, Director of Pitzer Programs and Intercultural Education, and Michelle Dymerski, director of the Claremont International Studies Education Project, a regional K-12 teacher development program. Participants will stay with Nepali families for at five weeks while studying the Nepali language, Hinduism, Buddhism, medieval history, and the process of development. The project includes a pre-departure teacher institute and post-trip follow up for curriculum development.
"They'll get hands-on experience that is very different than reading a book," said Donahue, who is fluent in Nepali and helped create the Pitzer in Nepal program in the 1970s. "They'll live with non-English speaking host families whose lives are heavily informed by Hindu values and beliefs while interacting with some of the best scholars in the country and collaborating on curriculum development projects with Nepali counterparts from local schools."
Boyle describes Educators in Nepal as a quintessential "global-local" initiative, linking California standards coursework taught in Inland Empire classrooms to villages in the Kathmandu Valley.
"This is how the world creeps into a Southern California classroom," Boyle said.
Questioning Everything: Reforming Student Government at Hampshire College
For the past several years, Hampshire College has been reforming its student government in innovative ways. At the request of President Jonathan Lash, Assistant Dean of Students Josiah Litant led a strategic planning process exploring new options in student government. After reviewing national and existing student government models and holding open brainstorming sessions designed by students, the committee released its report,
Purpose, Values, and Scope, which provides a framework for creating the new student government.
In the report, the committee clarified areas where the new student government has decision-making power - something that had been unclear previously and discouraged student involvement. The Board of Trustees approved the report and it is currently going through a 'structure' phase. As Josiah Litant states, "We're questioning everything," in an effort to overcome hurdles that national research shows most student governments have not been able to solve in the past.
Wagner College Science Students Work with Local Middle School
For the fourth year in a row, Donald Stearns, Professor of Biology at Wagner College, is collaborating with a colleague to implement the highly successful "Teaching Project" in their freshman learning community. Drawing on work from two linked courses - Microbiology and Biostatistics and Experimental Design - Dr. Stearns and his colleague have placed their first-year students in three elementary/middle schools to give them an opportunity to teach what they are learning about microbiology, generally to 7th graders.
Carefully planned so that the Wagner instructors and students and the school principals and teachers share a clear understanding of the goals of the project, the Wagner students lead the middle schoolers through a series of demonstrations and laboratory experiments to help them gain a deeper understanding of the scientific method and how it can be used to better understand the microbes around us.
This "Learning by Teaching" project not only motivates the Wagner students to master the microbiology content they are learning; it also gives them a chance to act as role models to the students and to encourage them to aspire to college. Just as important, this project helps the Wagner students to develop collaborative and organizational skills, and, in many cases, to discover a calling to teach. Additionally, through the "Teaching Project," students learn how to use their expertise to contribute to the needs of the community. The experience tends to be highly satisfying for the Wagner students and gives them an incentive to continue to engage with the community, a goal that both Wagner and Project Pericles prize.
Cristina Page of The Huffington Post Presents at Widener's Constitution Day Celebration
At Widener University, Constitution Day 2012 featured author and activist Cristina Page, who writes for The Huffington Post about the politics of women's reproductive health. Sponsored by the Political Engagement Committee, Cristina shared excerpts from her book: How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America: Freedom, Politics, and the War on Sex. Following her talk, Cristina facilitated a small group discussion with faculty and students.
In addition, to prepare students for the Presidential Election the event also included a series of Issues Forums sponsored by the Office for Civic Engagement, Multicultural Student Affairs, Interfaith Center, and the Office for Community Engagement and Diversity Initiatives. "Immigration Reform" was led by Widener Professor of Law, Jill Family, who talked about the complexities of immigration law and the divergent views between the presidential candidates. "The Role of Religion in the Presidential Election" featured a panel discussion with faith-based leaders who offered diverse perspectives about the influence of religion in politics. The Politics of Lobbying and Advocacy provided an opportunity to introduce students to a lobbyist who shared his experience and engaged students in conversations about the presidential candidates' platforms on higher education.
Drew University's Civic Scholars Collect Six Tons of Food
By Steven Ketchem
Of all the things to do with your Saturday, going around town dropping off flyers on strangers' doorsteps is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. But that's just what Drew's Civic Scholars were up to this fall as they did their part to help with the local food drive. The Civic Scholars helped collect over six tons of food, which was donated to The Community Food Bank of New Jersey. To show a little Drew pride, they also coordinated a campus wide food collection that coincided with the town-wide drive.
Besides collecting many items for the Food Bank, sophomore Kate Fischer says this project was "to bring together the four years of Civic Scholars to learn and network with each other for future projects". First year, sophomore, junior, and senior civic scholars came together to accomplish their goal.
Steven Ketchem is a Drew University Civic Scholar (Class of 2014)
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Periclean Colleges & Universities
Allegheny College * Bates College * Berea College * Bethune-Cookman University * Carleton College * Chatham University * Dillard University * Drew University * Earlham College * Elon University * Goucher College * Hampshire College * Hendrix College * Macalester College * Morehouse College *New England College * The New School * Occidental College * Pace University * Pitzer College * Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute * Rhodes College * St. Mary's College of Maryland * Spelman College * Swarthmore College * Ursinus College * Wagner College * Widener University * The College of Wooster
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Board of Directors
Chair: Eugene M. Lang
Vice-Chair: Neil R. Grabois
Chair: Rebecca S. Chopp, Swarthmore College
Vice-Chair: Richard Guarasci, Wagner College
National Board of Advisors
Co-Chairs: Sen. Nancy Kassebaum Baker & Hon. Kurt L. Schmoke
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