Volume 7, Issue 3 - February 2011
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 part of their educational programs, in the classroom, on the campus, and in the community.
· National Office Announcements
Pericleans Present at AAC&U Conference: "What is the global position of liberal education?" was the question at the heart of this year's AAC&U's Annual Meeting on January 26-29 in San Francisco, CA. The conference was attended by over 2,000 people including 109 Periclean presidents, faculty, and administrators. Pericleans were well-represented on the agenda, participating in more than 25 panels. The panel "Using Innovative Curricular and Co-curricular Programs to Prepare Students to Tackle Real-World Challenges," moderated by Project Pericles Executive Director Jan Liss, featured three Periclean Faculty Leaders:
· Randy Larsen, Associate Professor of Chemistry, St. Mary's College of Maryland, discussed his course "Instrumental Analysis of Oil & the Gulf of Mexico Environment," that analyzes the BP oil spill from a scientific and humanistic perspective and employs novel pedagogical techniques to train students to be citizen-scientists.
· Domenick Scudera, Associate Professor of Theater, Ursinus College, discussed his course, "Community-Based Theater and Civic Engagement" that uses theater as a tool to build bridges and involves students in assessing community needs and tailoring their work to address those needs.
· Debby Walser-Kuntz, Associate Professor of Biology, Carleton College, discussed her upper level course, "Immunology," in which students gain experience in community-based research on environmental and public health issues and present their scientific research to community members and public health officials to help change health outcomes and benefit the community.
The panel, "An Education for Citizenship: The Best Form of Career Education," discussed innovative ways in which colleges and universities are providing undergraduates with skills that allow them to "influence social values", "influence the social structure," and prepare for career paths that may not exist until 2030. The panel featured Jay Barth, the M.E. and Ima Graves Peace Distinguished Professor of Politics and Project Pericles Program Director at Hendrix College; Amy Koritz, Professor of English, Director of the Center for Civic Engagement and Project Pericles Program Director at Drew University; Project Pericles Assistant Director David Rippon; and Christopher Tinson, Assistant Professor of African American Studies and Periclean Faculty Leader at Hampshire College.
Project Pericles hosted a reception for Pericleans at the meeting. The reception was an exciting opportunity for faculty and administrators to meet and discuss civic engagement activities.
Presidents' Council Meets in New York: How can Project Pericles best collaborate with other civic engagement and higher education organizations? How can Periclean campuses work with foundations to develop new civic engagement programs? How might Project Pericles facilitate and encourage connections between civic engagement and international-focused programs and curricula? These and many other topics were addressed by the presidents of Periclean colleges and universities at the annual Presidents' Council meeting on December 2, 2010 at The Henry Luce Foundation in New York. Moderated by Wagner College President Richard Guarasci, the spirited day-long discussion addressed expansion, foundation relations, and future planning. Additionally, Project Pericles' Founder Eugene Lang shared his thoughts on the organization's progress and future, and Michael Gilligan, President of The Henry Luce Foundation, discussed the history of the foundation and the relationship between foundations and colleges in the new economic climate. The meeting concluded with a presentation by three Periclean Faculty Leaders: Benjamin Berger, an Associate Professor at Swarthmore College (Course: Democratic Theory and Practice); Thomas (T.J.) D. Eatmon Jr., Assistant Professor at Allegheny College, (Course: Environmental Education); and Jennifer Claire Olmsted, Associate Professor at Drew University (Course: Political Economy of Non-Profits.)
Project Pericles thanks The Henry Luce Foundation and Michael Gilligan, and the Presidents and Periclean Faculty Leaders who helped make the meeting so successful.
Project Pericles Launches Signature Periclean Faculty Leadership Program: In April, Project Pericles selected the first cohort of 26 faculty to serve as Periclean Faculty Leaders. These Periclean Faculty Leaders are championing civic engagement in their classrooms, on their campuses, and in their communities. During the 2010-2011 academic year, Periclean Faculty Leaders are creating and teaching courses in a wide variety of disciplines in the fine arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences that address issues of social concern, enrich curriculum, and enhance student social interest and involvement. They are also organizing campus-wide activities and/or preparing academic papers or projects. We thank The Teagle Foundation and the Eugene M. Lang Foundation for supporting this new signature Periclean program.
For each issue of the 2010-2011 Periclean Progress, a Periclean Faculty Leader will contribute an article. In this issue, Lisa Leitz, Assistant Professor at Hendrix College, discusses her course "Gender & Sexuality."
Sociology classes frequently introduce students to a variety of disturbing social problems, and many students leave these courses feeling angry and frustrated by the inequalities and injustices they now see where they had once believed there was none. The faculty leadership grant from Project Pericles enabled me to require my students in my Gender & Sexuality course to take steps to ameliorate the problems they encounter.
Students completed a group assignment I termed "civic engagement projects," which constituted the majority of their grade in the class. These projects were composed of three integrated parts where students were expected to:
1. Understand the theoretical and research based literature about a social problem related to gender and/or sexuality,
2. Determine how this problem affected their local community and what the local community was already doing about this issue,
3. Develop some type of product (event, pamphlet, website, etc.) that would be a part of reducing the problem in their community.
The 20 students in this sociology course organized: a campus transgender housing policy (and secured a pilot gender neutral housing program), the state-wide rally for reproductive justice, a multi-hour campus conversation on the beauty industry, a men's march against gender-based violence, a campus workshop on sexual assault, and two pamphlets on sexual assault. There were several important lessons I learned as the projects progressed that I will address below as I detail the projects.
The first step involved structuring the readings, lectures, discussions, films, and other classroom materials to provide students with a serious investigation into the variety and scope of issues related to gender inequality and sexual minorities. This is similar to what most faculty do in a course like this. Students engaged in this first step by choosing a problem area that they wished to focus on and creating a literature review of relevant research and theories.
Next, students were to work within their local community and with local organizations and leaders on the issue. Students were allowed to define local as the campus, city, county, or state. Here is where students ran into problems. I expected students would work directly with an existing non-profit, student organization, or political advocacy group. However, I did not realize there are not as many groups truly active in this local community as there had been in the areas where I had seen similar student projects work well. Many of the campus groups students wanted to collaborate with were not meeting much if at all, and several of the area women's organizations were non-responsive to student inquiries. There were a few successful partnerships created. The group that created the first annual statewide reproductive justice rally did so with the Little Rock chapter of the National Organization of Women. Students organizing the men's march utilized a national campaign and collected donations for a women's shelter. The transgender housing policy and pilot program was developed in coordination with a Hendrix LGBT rights group. The Dean of Students made one brochure an official campus publication that will be passed out to all students. Those students who worked closely with organizations and/or campus officials had the most successful projects. In future versions of this project, students will conduct qualitative interviews with local leaders on their issue early in the semester before deciding on the final project. This will require significant guidance since many students do not know who to interview. These interviews will allow all groups to better understand the needs of the community and their preexisting programming.
The students' products/events were all amazing. During group presentations I honestly fought back tears of pride, and numerous students sought me out to describe how impressed they were by the class's work. However, there are some more logistical difficulties with asking students to create projects such as these. The main problem is timing. In spite of the fact that students were introduced to the project requirements on the first day, and were expected to write about and meet with me throughout the semester, many students commented in their self-evaluation of the projects that they wished they had started earlier. In a class of 20, which amounted to seven groups, two groups' events took place during the first two weeks of the semester following the course. Although extensions and the lack of comparability between products can be annoying for any professor, I believe that flexibility is a necessary component for asking students to conduct projects like this. However, in future iterations of these projects I will build in more prodding to be sure the projects are completed within the time-frame of the semester.
In conclusion, student comments demonstrate that these projects had an enormous impact. Students delved deeply into social problems and emerged with a sense of pride for having taken a step to address them. I believe this active engagement will have two enduring effects. First, students are likely to retain the knowledge about the social problems more because they feel connected to it. Secondarily, students learned that they can make a difference and the importance of each person's engagement with their community. But, you do not need to take my word for it; here are the words of one student:
"Another important effect this project had on me was it really demonstrated how much you can accomplish. I think it is pretty cool that three random students could really get people thinking about an issue and put things in motion to make changes. None of us are affiliated with any specific group, and none of us knew each other before this class, but because of our project Hendrix will have gender neutral housing next year. It just showed me how possible it is to make a change if you just do the work. I don't think any of us planned on accomplishing something that would affect the school in this way when we started the class, but we did. I feel very lucky and proud to have taken part in this project."
The Project Pericles website contains syllabi for courses being taught this fall and for other civic engagement courses including the 44 Civic Engagement Courses (CECs) that were taught at 16 Periclean colleges and universities from 2007-2009. We would welcome your comments and suggestions. The CEC program received generous support from the Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation, The Teagle Foundation, and the Eugene M. Lang Foundation.
· News from Project Pericles Program Directors
Wooster's Global Social Entrepreneurship Program Receives Major Award: The College of Wooster's Global Social Entrepreneurship program has been cited for excellence by the Institute of International Education (IIE). The group will receive an Andrew Heiskell Award for Innovation in International Education - specifically internationalizing the campus through business education - at the Sixth Annual Best Practices in Internationalization Conference on March 18 in New York City.
Established in 2009, Wooster's Global Social Entrepreneurship program aims to promote global citizenship and entrepreneurship through a collaborative effort involving students, faculty, staff, and alumni who serve as consultants for international agencies and organizations. The program has two primary components: an on-campus seminar in the spring and a six-week experiential-learning association with social enterprises in Bangalore, India, in the summer. This past year, the group worked with Dream a Dream, an organization that works with underprivileged children to inculcate life skills, and with Enable India, which provides training and placement services to Fortune 500 companies for people with disabilities.
The objective, according to Amyaz Moledina, Project Pericles Program Director and the architect of the program as well as assistant professor of economics and co-director of Wooster's Center for Diversity and Global Engagement, is to network with local experts and provide an assessment of the programs through qualitative and quantitative analyses. "Students and faculty design a problems-based curriculum that is then studied from each student's disciplinary perspective and through the lens of the social enterprise they work for," said Moledina, who added that sustainability is one of the fundamental objectives of the program. "We are looking to work with these organizations over a longer period of time," he said. "Each year, a new group of students takes over where the previous group left off. Our business plan is based on collaboration, and awards like this indicate that Wooster's program is distinctive." Another noteworthy component of the program is its interdisciplinary approach, which involves students from a range of majors.
Swarthmore Program Featured in Philadelphia.Com: Learning for Life (L4L) is a voluntary mutual learning program at Swarthmore College composed of student-staff-faculty partnerships. Partners design their own learning projects, which reflect their interests and expertise, and often result in lasting friendships. The program embodies Swarthmore's values of respect and social justice; all members of the community are responsible for its collective intellectual, ethical, social, and personal growth. L4L partnerships meet during several hours per week of the staff members' time, and work towards their personal learning goals. Partnerships explore computers, learn about physical fitness, study math, learn photography, and host their own radio shows. Through their adventures together, staff and students get to know each other and take advantage of the learning opportunities at Swarthmore. L4L is a program of the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility program, which supports the program with two student interns, meeting space, and advising.
Philadelphia.com, the website of the Philadelphia Inquirer, recently wrote a story on the program and two of the program's participants: Adam Bortner and Donzella "Donnie" Franklin.
Widener Students Help Others to Honor Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Memory: The Widener University Institute for Physical Therapy Education honored the life and legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. by offering two free mobility clinics throughout the city of Chester on January 14 and 17. "These clinics enable us to give back to the community by using the skills we've acquired as physical therapy students and practitioners," said Jill Black Lattanzi, a clinical assistant professor in Widener's Institute for Physical Therapy Education. "It's our way of embracing Widener's call to students, faculty, and staff to celebrate Dr. King's legacy with a day of service."
At each of the clinic sites, students and faculty members of Widener University Institute for Physical Therapy Education screened and cleaned mobile scooters, wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, and canes to ensure that these assistive devices were in optimal condition. Residents who were unable to make it out to the clinics had their devices fixed at their home. The home visits were coordinated with St. Katharine Drexel Church in Chester.
Widener University President Harris Receives Chief Executive Leadership Award:
Widener University President James T. Harris III is the recipient of the 2011 Chief Executive Leadership Award for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) District II. District II is the largest of CASE's eight districts, encompassing more than 700 member institutions in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, West Virginia, and Ontario, Canada.
Awarded annually, the Chief Executive Leadership Award recognizes a District II member institution president, chancellor, or other campus CEO for outstanding efforts in promoting the understanding and support of education. Nominees must demonstrate the ability to create vision and inspire others; establish a positive image of his/her institution's stature in the community; and encourage innovations and risk-taking among employees.
"We have worked very hard at Widener for the past eight years to make the university one of the nation's premiere civic engagement institutions," President Harris said. "It has truly been a university-wide effort involving administrators, faculty, alumni, donors, and students. So, while my name may be on the award from CASE, this recognition is really about the work my colleagues, our community partners and I have done together to advance our mission."
Coats, Cans, and Cash for the Community Day: In November, the Richmond High School Student Council and the Earlham College Men's and Women's Basketball Teams held a Coats, Cans, and Cash for the Community Day as a part of the Men's and Women's Basketball Doubleheader against Oberlin College. The local community and Earlham community contributed 82 winter coats, more than 350 pounds of canned goods, and $150 in cash for those who are less fortunate in the community to use during these difficult economic times.
To view the complete story, please click here.
Allegheny Students Help Children in the Community: Four Allegheny College students helped fourth and fifth graders discover innovative ways to connect the arts and the environment during the Meadville Family YMCA's day camp this past summer. Each week, the Allegheny students led campers in projects that link environmental arts to the camp's weekly themes, which include personal identity, American heroes, and healthy lifestyles. The students' work is part of the Community Arts initiative of Allegheny's Center for Economic and Environmental Development. "We try to take the campers out of the 'this is what art is' mindset and inspire innovation in them," said Teresa Bensel, a studio art major and values, ethics & social action (VESA) minor from Meadville. "Art isn't necessarily a piece of paper with pencil marks on it-art can be anywhere."
In mid-July, inspired by the work of eco-artist Andy Goldsworthy, campers created their own eco-art with materials from the nature trail at the Meadville Area Recreation Complex. They transformed leaves, flowers, rocks and twigs into temporary art installations along the trail, focusing on concepts such as shape and color.
"The best thing about working with the kids is that they are at the age where they are already constantly thinking outside of the box," said Bensel. "It's always so much fun to hear the stories they tell and see what they can come up with."
Also participating in the project are Allegheny students Matt Reilly, an art and technology major and computer science minor from Pittsburgh; Emma Cook, an environmental studies major and studio art minor from Conewango Valley, N.Y.; and Gretchen Wood, an English and environmental studies double major from Meadville, PA.
The Periclean Progress is issued during the academic year and is posted on the Project Pericles website.
Periclean Colleges & Universities
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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