The Periclean Progress E-Newsletter

Volume 5, Issue 2 – November 2008

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

D4D on the Road: D4D on the Road, a six-hour political advocacy workshop, has been a great success. In the past two months, D4D on the Road has visited 8 campuses. More than 250 Periclean students, faculty, and community members from 15 Periclean campuses have learned specific advocacy skills such as writing letters to political leaders, analyzing and debating public policy issues, and working with the news media. The workshops are led by advocacy expert Christopher Kush of Washington D.C-based Soapbox Consulting. At its conclusion, participants reflect on how to apply what they have learned on their respective campuses and receive a copy of Kush's book, The One-Hour Activist. D4D on the Road is generously supported by the Spencer Foundation.

The next D4D on the Road workshop will be held at Chatham University on November 22. Workshops will also be held on January 24 at Spelman College and on January 30 at Hendrix College.

A number of campus newspapers wrote stories on D4D on the Road. Below, are excerpts from several of these articles:

"The event was well organized and enjoyable, led by some seasoned and charismatic activists. The workshops focused not on radical acts of protest, but on how to effectively seek political change through well-informed, concise, and respectful discourse with elected officials and the media."
Scott Zuke, a student from St. Mary's College of Maryland, The Point News Online

"Having those students (from St. Mary's College of Maryland, Ursinus College, and Widener University) there was really great. I liked the new perspective on activism from students on other campuses. It was also nice to meet new people."
Elizabeth Crampton '09, Swarthmore College, The Phoenix

"It's very action oriented. Today we moved beyond talking about activism. We engaged in practical, experiential learning - what you learn here can be applied to the world outside, be it in a student group, an activist cause, or just being a motivated citizen." Jennifer Magee, Associate Director of Student Programs at the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsiblity, Swarthmore College Website

"I appreciated the opportunity to bring together like-minded people who are interested in becoming more involved citizens. It was great for students to interact with other passionate students and share ideas with one another."
Professor Aaron Peeks, coordinator for Elon University's D4D program, E-Net

Periclean Focus

According to CIRCLE, about 22-24 million young Americans went to the polls last week up by at least 2.2 million from 2004. This month, the Periclean Focus features stories on the innovative political activities that took place on Periclean campuses that helped contribute to this record turnout.

Periclean Connections to Obama and Biden: On November 4, Barack Obama, a former student at Occidental College, and Joe Biden, an adjunct professor at Widener University, were elected the 44th President and Vice-President of the United States.

An article in the Boston Globe said, "Much has been made in this presidential campaign, both good and bad, of Obama's Ivy League pedigree, his bachelor's degree from Columbia University, and his law degree from Harvard. But it is during the two years Obama spent at Occidental, a small liberal arts school in Los Angeles, that he started on the path that has led to the Democratic presidential nomination." "Oxy, as it is affectionately known, nurtured his transformation," said the Globe. "By the end of his sophomore year, he was on his way to becoming a self-assured, purpose-driven scholar plotting a career in public service."

Bethune-Cookman Students Vote Early: Bethune-Cookman University galvanized its get-out-the-vote effort on October 27, flooding one of the Volusia County early-voting sites with more than 1,500 students and faculty. "Our institution's founder, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, was one of many who struggled and sacrificed to make sure that women and African-Americans secured voting rights," said university President Trudie Kibbe Reed. "She stood up to the [Ku Klux] Klan right here in Daytona Beach at great risk to herself and her school. We undertook this effort in keeping with her legacy." A number of national media organizations including CNN covered this event. Click here to read more.

Project Pericles Election Forums at Hendrix:The Hendrix College Forum, organized by the Project Pericles program at Hendrix, focuses on a topic announced only a few days in advance so as to maximize the currency of the topic. An informed facilitator frames the conversation and then quickly turns the spotlight to the members of the community to exchange their own views of the topic. The Forum is designed to encourage thoughtful and passionate, yet civil, discussion. On October 30, the forum focused on "Who Will Win Election 2008 and Why?" The question came from the students of Professor Mary Richardson's "Communication Analysis of Presidential Candidates' Nomination Acceptance Speeches" course (funded by a Project Pericles Civic Engagement Course grant). The students based their analysis on the candidates' political communication during the campaign, especially their convention nomination acceptance speeches. Students facilitated the discussion that followed.

Debate Watch Kicks off at Widener: Widener University hosted three DebateWatch 2008 events on the Main Campus in Chester, Pennsylvania. Over two hundred students, faculty, staff members, and friends of the university attended at least one of the events. Following each debate, attendees discussed the issues and candidates' performances in small groups. Trained student and faculty facilitators helped spark conversation and engage discussion. Various student groups also contributed content for foreign policy and domestic policy information sheets distributed at the event. Professor James Vike, Project Pericles Co-Program Director and event coordinator, stated that "debate viewership has been shown to improve political learning, yet is unequal generationally. Getting young people to participate in events such as this will hopefully lead to more knowledgeable and engaged political citizens."

Obama Visits Widener: Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama, D-Ill., spoke to thousands of Pennsylvania residents at Widener University's Main Quad on October 28. President James Harris had extended an open invitation to Senator McCain and Senator Obama to appear at Widener University.

St. Mary's Votes: This fall, students at St. Mary's College of Maryland are taking civic engagement into their own hands. Fifteen students worked with St. Mary's Votes!, an organization designed to increase student voter turnout. This organization, now in its fourth year, is associated with the Center for the Study of Democracy at St. Mary's College of Maryland. Under the leadership of seniors Sam Birnbaum and Jen Yogi, the group has submitted 209 absentee ballot requests and 59 new voter applications on behalf of students.

St. Mary's Votes! also hosted three debate watching parties, each of which were attended by over 100 people (or about 10% of the college), and hosted a "Rock the Vote" student concert. St. Mary's Votes! is non-partisan, and its executive board includes leaders from the school's College Democrats, College Republicans, environmental action group, and student government association. On Election Day, these students staffed a shuttle service to the local polling station and worked as election judges in various Maryland precincts. Center Director and Project Pericles Program Director Michael Cain has worked with this group for the last two election cycles.

Hampshire Students Discuss Voter Disenfranchisement: On October 24, 30 Hampshire College students attended a talk about current voter disenfranchisement and a screening of the documentary film, American Blackout. Aidan Kriese, a student organizer for Debating for Democracy (D4D), presented on current attempts to strategically deny people of color the right to vote. The event was sponsored by Community Partnerships for Social Change in anticipation of the election and to raise awareness about D4D and the November 7 D4D on the Road Workshop at Hampshire College.

Pace Encourages Students, Faculty, and Community Members to Vote: Pace University initiated Pace Votes 2008 to encourage the participation of students, faculty, and staff in the election. This initiative included Voter Registration Training drives during First-Year Orientation, and Dorm Storms resulting in over 500 voter registrations. The campaign is now focused on how to maintain engagement past election day.

Project Pericles at Pace partnered with the Chinatown Resource Center at Hamilton Madison Settlement House bringing together Chinese-speaking Pace faculty, Pace student volunteers, as well as representatives from the Asian-American Legal Defense Fund to register newly naturalized citizens.

On September 19, Pace University in collaboration with traveled to Pleasantville High School to educate students about the importance of voting and participating in the political process.

On October 15, Pace University held a "Meet the Candidates" forum on the Pleasantville Campus. Project Pericles has co-sponsored this event with the Organization for Chinese Americans for the last five years to encourage students and community members' awareness and engagement with those running local, state, and federal campaigns.

Election Activities at New England College Kick Into High-Gear: The Political Science Club at New England College held debate watching parties during the three presidential debates and the vice-presidential debate. Seventy-five students, faculty and staff attended these debate watching parties. In addition to the debate parties, there were also two debates held on campus that were partially organized by New England College students. The first debate was between the candidates for the first congressional district in New Hampshire: Paul Hodes (D) and Jennifer Horn (R). The second debate was between U.S. senatorial candidates: John Sununu (R) and Jeanne Shaheen (D). New England College also held forums on democracy and gender and racial issues related to the 2008 election, had two very successful voter registration drives, and promoted internships on political campaigns and interest groups to students.

Wagner Registers Voters and Hosts Forum on the 2008 Election: Students at Wagner College registered over 300 new voters this fall. The Project Pericles program at Wagner also sponsored a lecture series on the 2008 election. Lori Marso spoke on "What's at Stake for Women in the 2008 elections? A Feminist Perspective on Change, Freedom, and Choice." Bruce Cronin spoke on "A Foreign Policy in Shambles: Crises that Will Haunt the Next President", and Michaele Ferguson spoke on "Bitch is the New Black: Feminism and the Failure to Think Intersectionality about the Obama Campaign." Project Pericles also sponsored an essay contest on the theme "Who Would Make the Best President and Why?" Following up on the D4D on the Road workshop launched at Wagner in September, students showed the independent film 18 in '08 by David Burstein so that the larger Wagner community could benefit from its insights about what it means for young people to vote.

Voice Your Vote Held at Chatham: In September, the Pennsylvania Center for Women, Politics, and Public Policy at Chatham University teamed up with New Voices Pittsburgh to engage voters in the Voice Your Vote project, a non-partisan effort funded by the Three Rivers Community Foundation to cultivate the habits of citizenship and to enhance leadership skills among young women and women of color in underserved communities. The project also focuses on building a community partnership between a grassroots organization and a higher education institution for ongoing collaboration. Two Chatham students were chosen as paid interns for this project.

Swarthmore Students Study Democracy: At Swarthmore College, professors Carol Nackenoff and Keith Reeves are expanding students' notions of the democratic process in their course "American Elections: Myth, Ritual and Substance." This course offers students a chance to examine the role of policy issues, candidate images, campaign advertisements, media, polling, marketing, and political parties in the American electoral process.

Molly Weston '10, president of the Swarthmore College Democrats, coordinated the involvement of College Democrats and "Swatties for Obama" in the Barack Obama presidential campaign locally. Their activities include phone banking, canvassing, hosting televised debate events and voter registration drives both on campus and within the electorally important Philadelphia suburbs. Ellen Donnelly '10 worked with Chester Community Charter School to host a mock election for 270 students on October 30. Ellen and her community partners hope this project will enhance civic competence, social responsibility, and the spirit of democracy among urban, low-income youth.

Macalester Receives Political Engagement Grant: Macalester College received a $50,000 grant from the Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation that will give Macalester students the opportunity to explore citizen engagement and engage in dialogue about politically related issues. Robin Ruthenbeck, associate director for campus programs, said she sees this as an opportunity to redefine what it means to be political so that it becomes something more than just voting. Helen Warren, director of the foundation relations department said that "the students who organized the debates are still in charge-the funds are intended to support student driven events." The grant brought former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack to Macalester on October 31. He spoke on the election and U.S. energy and environmental policy. "The election," Warren said, "presents a wonderful opportunity for faculty, students and visitors to examine the issues and political discourse." The grant will not support programs that endorse a candidate or a position.

Periclean News

Allegheny Focuses on Health: Designating the 2008-09 academic year as the "Year of Health," Allegheny College has begun a campus-wide effort to explore how health intersects with peoples' lives on a personal, community, and global scale. "At least 49 courses from the humanities and the natural and social sciences are incorporating some aspect of health during this academic year, addressing such issues as health disparities, access to health care, financing HMOs, politics of insurance, development and environmental health, personal wellness, physical and genetic contributions to disease, and how the media portray and contribute to health and disease," said Assistant Professor of Environmental Science Caryl Wagget, who is a member of the Year of Health planning committee. Professor Wagget is a recipient of a Project Pericles Civic Engagement Course Grant (CEC). Last spring, Professor Wagget taught "Integrating Environmental and Public Health into Allegheny Courses" as her CEC course.

Spelman Students Start New Civic Engagement Organization: The Project Pericles student organization initiative at Spelman College is Actively Changing Tomorrow through Service (A.C.T.S.). The program, based at Spelman College, Morehouse College, and Clark Atlanta University, aims to unite the eight colleges and universities in the Atlanta area through community service and civic engagement to address health awareness, access to higher education, engagement in politics, change in social policies, and diminishment of poverty. Spelman student Nakeita Stewart, a founder of A.C.T.S, was inspired to start A.C.T.S. after she attended the D4D National Conference in April. A.C.T.S. has a membership of over 60 students. The first A.C.T.S. initiative was launched on September 21 when A.C.T.S registered over 30 elderly citizens to vote. Twenty-three A.C.T.S members also donated to and participated in the Atlanta AIDS Walk on October 19.

Eugene Lang College Scholar Named SENCER Fellow: Eugene Lang College Professor Katayoun Chamany, Associate Professor of Biology, has been selected as a 2008-2009 SENCER (Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities) Leadership Fellow by the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement. Professor Chamany is very active in Eugene Lang College's civic engagement initiatives and programs, and received a Project Pericles Civic Engagement Course Grant to teach the "Science and Politics of Stem Cell Research."

During her 18-month appointment, Professor Chamany will expand her work in the area of stem cell biology and policy through a partnership with the New York Stem Cell Foundation, develop a statewide stem cell curriculum, and disseminate her efforts to reform biology education so that it is taught in socially and politically contextualized ways. SENCER is the signature program of the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement, a faculty development and science education reform initiative supported by the National Science Foundation. SENCER stimulates student engagement in science and mathematics through courses and programs focused on real world problems. This method extends the impact of student learning across the curriculum to the broader community and society.

For more information on the SENCER program A total of 76 fellows were chosen from 1,300 eligible faculty members and academic leaders around the country.

Resources and Publications

Contrary to popular belief, the problem with U.S. higher education is not too much politics but too little. Far from being bastions of liberal bias, American universities have largely withdrawn from the world of politics. So conclude Bruce L. R. Smith, Jeremy Mayer, and Lee Fritschler in a new book, Closed Minds? Politics and Ideology in American Universities,published by the Brookings Press.

According to the summary published by Brookings, "Closed Minds? draws on data from interviews, focus groups, and a new national survey by the authors, as well as their decades of experience in higher education to paint the most comprehensive picture to date of campus political attitudes. It finds that while liberals outnumber conservatives within faculty ranks, even most conservatives believe that ideology has little impact on hiring and promotion. Today's students are somewhat more conservative than their professors, but few complain of political bias in the classroom."


November 13-14, 2008
Occidental College and Pitzer College, California
Project Pericles Program Directors' Conference
This conference is an opportunity for Periclean schools to share information about program development and activities, network with fellow Pericleans, discuss current and future opportunities for collaborations, and inject new insights and ideas for future initiatives.

December 12, 2008
New York City, New York
Project Pericles Presidents' Council Meeting
At this annual meeting, Periclean Presidents will share their perspectives on the development, implementations, and support of Project Pericles on their campuses. The Presidents' Council Meeting will be hosted by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.



The Periclean Progress is issued each month during the academic year and is posted on the Project Pericles website.
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Periclean Colleges & Universities
Allegheny College • Bates College • Berea College • Bethune-Cookman University
Chatham University • Dillard University • Elon University • Hampshire College
Hendrix College • Macalester College • New England College • The New School
Occidental College • Pace University • Pitzer College • Rhodes College
St. Mary's College of Maryland • Spelman College • Swarthmore College
Ursinus College • Wagner College • Widener University

National Office
Executive Director: Jan R. Liss

Board of Directors
Chair: Eugene M. Lang

Presidents' Council
Chair: Brian Rosenberg, Macalester College

National Board of Advisors
Co-Chairs: Sen. Nancy Kassebaum Baker & Hon. Kurt L. Schmoke

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