project pericles and up to us Support 36 faculty and 2,300 students to explore Policy solutions and understand differing perspectives through Deliberative Dialogues across U.S.
Project Pericles and Up to Us are concluding a successful 2021-2022 Up to Us Voting Modules Fellowship Program supporting 36 deliberative dialogue discussions across 34 campuses reaching more than 2,300 students. The program supported faculty with a mini-grant to incorporate a deliberative dialogue discussion into a course. The discussion empowers students to explore policy solutions to pressing civic issues (affordable healthcare, climate change, racial and income inequity, student debt) while respectfully engaging in civil dialogue with others who have differing viewpoints--a much needed skill in this polarized environment. Faculty used the Project Pericles Voting Modules to support this work. We are delighted that in addition to our Periclean campuses, the Fellowship Awards supported dialogues in our other partner networks including community colleges, large public universities, small private liberal arts colleges, and minority serving institutions, among others. Faculty fellows represent a diverse range of disciplines including: Africana Studies, Data Analytics, Education, Gerontology, Journalism, Political Science, Sociology, and Theatre.
Faculty shared inspiring stories and comments with us over the past academic year. Some highlights:
• In her Advanced Japanese course, Kiyono Fujinaga at Ursinus College incorporated “Youth and Economic Opportunity” into class discussions. Students discussed the social and economic impacts of a particular civic issue in Japan, the U.S., and the global community at large, and considered how these topics impact economic opportunities for themselves and others in their generation. She noted that, “the project gave the students confidence in expressing their opinion on current social issues as well as my teaching interdisciplinary studies beyond language learning.” She also shared with us that she “would like to promote my fellow Japanese instructors and other language instructors to work with organizations such as yours to work towards mutual educational goals.”
• It is also clear that these conversations encourage students to take on the issues outside of the classroom. In her Energy and Sustainability course, Bhawani Venkataraman (Natural Sciences and Mathematics) from The New School discussed “Funding a Climate Friendly Future.” She also worked on a project with her students that proposed an “optimum” energy portfolio for electricity generation for NYC which inspired students to take further action about protecting our climate. Afterwards, students expressed interest in writing to their political representatives and becoming more informed on actions and policies proposed…as well as an interest in volunteering with organizations focused on climate justice and justice transitions.
• The program also included six Senior Fellows who were awarded with a $1,500 grant to take a leadership position in the program. The Senior Fellows are faculty that have facilitated deliberative dialogue discussions using the Voting Modules in the past. In this year’s program, they took on a mentoring role to other fellows and provided crucial support facilitating virtual convenings of the faculty. Senior Fellow, Sandy Marshall at Elon University, said that being part of the program for a second time, “has given me the confidence to undertake what might have otherwise felt like a daunting teaching endeavor.” He facilitated a discussion about “Funding a Climate Friendly Future” in his Geography course, Peace and Conflict Studies. Students then engaged in an activity mapping which countries are most vulnerable to climate change—then work their way towards analyzing current domestic/local policies aimed at combating climate change and building a new economy. Dr. Marshall shared with us that the activity empowered “students to begin thinking about a different future we can begin building now.”
• Virtual Convenings: Project Pericles facilitated “Virtual Faculty Leadership and Learning Community” convenings that brought together Up to Us Voting Modules Fellows to share resources, work through challenges, and create a community of civically engaged scholars. These were a success and faculty shared how worthwhile the experience was. Cory Bolkan (Human Development) from Washington State University thought that the two convenings she attended were both helpful and gave good information, resources, and support. Jenna Goldsmith (Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies) from Illinois State University was excited that there were educators from a diverse set of institutions implementing their work. While fellows were only required to attend one convening, many chose to attend two.
We appreciate our partnership with Up to Us/Net Impact and The Eugene M. Lang Foundation for supporting this program. In a time where young people want to learn how they can make a difference, we are delighted that the Up to Us Voting Modules Fellowship Program empowers faculty to facilitate vital discussions that help students see the connections between their actions and policies; while encouraging listening and understanding among diverse perspectives.
Up to Us is the nationwide, campus-based campaign focused on building a sustainable economic and fiscal future for America's next generation.