How was the name "Project Pericles" selected?

Project Pericles was named after the Athenian statesman, Pericles.  In the fifth century BCE, Pericles led the city-state of Athens to become history's prototypic democracy.  Recognizing that every citizen has both a duty to serve and the potential to lead, Pericles and his fellow Athenians laid the foundation for modern democracy – a legacy to men and women seeking to govern themselves in a free society. This legacy is the core concept of America's founding philosophy. It epitomizes the meaning and defines the purpose of Project Pericles – to promote and facilitate preparation for participatory citizenship as an essential part of the educational programs of colleges and universities.  Project Pericles pays tribute to Pericles by working with institutions of higher education to extend the meaning, purpose, and inspiration of his legacy.


What is meant by terms such as "civic engagement," "participatory citizenship," and "responsible citizenship"? Are these ways of saying that you want to increase voter turnout?

Voting is one expression of civic involvement, but far from the only one. Periclean Programs strive to give students the intellectual and experiential foundations for all aspects of responsible citizenship.  These include taking an interest in public affairs, engaging in civil discourse, understanding and actively participating in democratic political processes, being able to analyze news and information, cultivating and effectively advocating opinions on matters of public policy, understanding diverse opinions, supporting free speech, being involved in community service that addresses public problems, and, above all, having the confidence that through democratic processes, individuals can "make a difference."


How does Project Pericles differ from other organizations that promote civic engagement?

To be identified as a Periclean, an institution must abide by certain distinctive Policies.  Its Board of Trustees must formally commit the school to preparing students for responsible and participatory citizenship a regular part of its educational program.  Formal institutional Commitment and Board involvement are part of the unique framework of policy requirements of Project Pericles that encourages participation of the entire college community, making socially and civically oriented initiatives welcome, encouraged, and respected.

Following institutional Commitment, each Periclean develops a comprehensive Program, continuously evolving and growing, that extends into the classroom, throughout the campus, and across the community.  By Policy requirement, the Program must engage all institutional constituencies—president, trustees, administrators, faculty, staff, students, and alumni.  The required institutional Commitment and expansive structure of Programs, coupled with the collaborative interactions and esprit of Pericleans, are unique features of Project Pericles.


What requirements are imposed upon institutions that become part of Project Pericles?

There are basic Policies to which all Pericleans must adhere, but beyond that, each institution is free to shape its Program in ways that reflect its own institutional culture, community, and priorities. In addition to annual dues of $3,000, active commitment to the objectives and related policies of Project Pericles is expected. Pericleans are also expected to share, as appropriate, their Program concepts and experiences.


I know a college that would be a good candidate to join Project Pericles.  How should it proceed?

Many factors play a role in the consideration of new Pericleans, including:  institutional mission; administration and governance; memberships and relationships; institutional type and character; resources; location; existing activities; and special contacts and unusual opportunities.  Institutions that are interested in discussing how an institution can be a part of Project Pericles should feel free to contact us.  We are always eager to learn about institutions that are promoting responsible citizenship, whether or not this is done as a Periclean Program.


What do colleges get for becoming part of Project Pericles?

Project Pericles reflects a proactive commitment to higher education's original mission in America: to prepare young people for responsible civic leadership. It gives each Periclean and its constituents the opportunity to protect and enhance its equity in the future of our democratic society.  Benefits come from the synergies of like-minded institutions that share ideas, promote joint undertakings, and explore new and different opportunities for support, programs, and affiliations.

The national office of Project Pericles works with Periclean colleges and universities to develop civic engagement programs that support, enhance, and extend their existing activities. These programs are designed to deepen the Periclean mission on campus by enabling and by empowering students to become more thoughtful and effective advocates. Signature Periclean programs include the Civic Engagement Course (CEC) Programä, Debating for Democracy (D4D)ä, the Periclean Faculty Leadership (PFL) Programä, and Creating Cohesive Paths to Civic Engagement. Each college becomes a full participant in our annual Presidents' Council Meeting in New York and Program Directors' Meeting, hosted by a different member institution each year.


How are Periclean Programs funded?

Programs are an integral part of each Periclean's educational mission, which means that their costs should be included within the institution's regular budget.  Most Program activities are adaptations of existing activities that require no additional or special funding.


How does service learning fit into what Pericleans do? 

Service learning is an important element of most Periclean Programs, providing valuable knowledge, insight, and experience.  To be meaningful, Project Pericles believes that service learning at Periclean institutions needs to go beyond exercises in volunteerism—it should address defined needs and learning objectives.  Service learning projects must involve preparation, oversight, and accountability, as well as the opportunity for reflection.  When conducted in this manner, these projects will create lasting educational experiences that are significant to the participating students and the community.


Does Project Pericles advocate a particular political viewpoint?

No. Project Pericles is interested in promoting the interest, understanding, and active participation of students in the institutions and processes of our democracy in order to improve the condition of society, without regard to a particular viewpoint or agenda.  We believe that students should be informed about issues and reach their own thoughtful conclusions—whatever they may be—and be prepared to discuss and advocate as responsible citizens.

Contact us at 212.986.4496 or at projectpericles@projectpericles.org.