Spring 2013, Volume 9

National Office News

The Teagle Foundation Awards Project Pericles Grant for Mapping of Civic Engagement on Campus

Project Pericles is delighted to announce its newest initiative, Creating Cohesive Paths to Civic Engagement, a four-part, three-year project to inventory, map, strengthen, and develop more cohesive civic engagement programs on Periclean campuses. This project enables Pericleans to remain at the forefront of educating for civic engagement and social responsibility as they develop clear pathways for civic engagement across the curriculum with shared learning outcomes and sequential components.   

Jan Liss, Project Pericles Executive Director, said,

"We are thrilled to be undertaking this project.  It provides us with the opportunity to come together and critically reflect on how our campuses are educating for civic and social responsibility. This project will encourage Pericleans to learn from each other; to collaborate in developing new, innovative approaches to civic engagement and social responsibility; and to advance civic engagement within higher education. By undertaking this work, we can strengthen our own institutions and provide important models for others."

In an AAC&U blog post, "Four Steps to Help Students Understand and Describe the Value of a Liberal Education" Madeleine F. Green, Senior Program Consultant, and Annie W. Bezbatchenko, Program Director, both at The Teagle Foundation, cite Project Pericles's work on mapping as one important way of helping students see the connections and shared learning objectives between their courses. They write, 

"By mapping themes across the curriculum that are relevant to students' lives and the issues in our world such as civic engagement, internationalization, and justice, faculty and advisors can help show students the various emphases and pathways they can intentionally pursue as they move through the curriculum."

Following the mapping portion of the project and a convening to discuss findings in the summer of 2014, participating colleges and universities will develop strategic action plans to strengthen existing civic engagement programs on individual campuses and/or to develop new certificates or minors in civic engagement. Project Pericles will also publish a White Paper focused on how to organize and integrate civic engagement programming. 

This project is made possible through the generous support of the Eugene M. Lang Foundation and The Teagle Foundation.

More about The Teagle Foundation:

The Teagle Foundation provides leadership for liberal education, mobilizing the intellectual and financial resources that are necessary if today's students are to have access to a challenging and transformative liberal education. The Foundation's commitment to such education includes its grant making to institutions of higher education across the country, its long-established scholarship program for the children of employees of Exxon Mobil, and its work helping economically disadvantaged young people in New York City-where the Foundation is based-gain admission to college and succeed once there.

Berea Students Tackle Methamphetamine Abuse While Hendrix Students Promote Sex Education as Part of Debating for Democracy (D4D) National Conference - 2012 Finalists 

Below teams of students from Berea College and Hendrix College provide updates on their advocacy work. Each year as part of the Debating for Democracy (D4D) National Conference, over 50 teams of students participate in our "Letters to an Elected Official" competition. The five finalists present their letters to a legislative committee of former government officials at the National Conference and receive a cash award to advance their issue.

For an update on the work of the 2012 winning team from Earlham College see the Fall 2012 newsletter. The other finalist teams from Widener University and The College of Wooster will report in a future issue. 

Berea College
By Le'Shae Dickerson and Corey Lewis

In March 2012, as finalists representing Berea at the D4D Legislative Hearing Competition, we won $500 to promote our cause of curbing methamphetamine abuse in the state of Kentucky. As part of the competition, we wrote Kentucky State Representative Kevin Bratcher (R) urging him to support KY HB 281, which would have required a prescription for the purchase of medicine containing pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient in methamphetamine. The Kentucky Legislature subsequently passed Senate Bill 3 (a compromise version of HB 281) that restricts over-the-counter purchases to 7.2 grams of pseudoephedrine per month.

We used our award to travel to meet with elected officials in Kentucky and Washington, D.C. and to impress upon them our concern about methamphetamine abuse.

We met with Representative Bratcher, who represents Le'Shae's neighborhood in Louisville. Bratcher told us why SB 3 is the best answer to curb meth abuse in Kentucky. Now, 95% of citizens will still have the ability to buy over-the-counter medicines for themselves and their families without having to make doctor appointments (which are often timely and costly). SB 3 will remain in place for at least two to three years to evaluate the bill's effectiveness.
Overall, we found our government officials are well aware of the effects of meth in Kentucky. It was refreshing to learn that they care just as much as we do and have already started efforts to combat this serious issue. We also learned that while contacting our political figures is an important part of social change, change also begins with us. We all should recognize the problems in our communities and that we can be a part of the solutions.

Hendrix College
By Maia Yang

Hendrix College students Lindsey Wiggin and Maia Yang were finalists at the 2012 Debating for Democracy Legislative Hearing. In their "Letter in Support of a Mandatory Sex Education Curriculum in Arkansas" to State Representative Linda Tyler (D) they urged legislators to institute a mandatory comprehensive sex education program for all public schools in Arkansas.

This spring, we used the $500 award to organize events on campus focused on women's sexual health and well-being in conjunction with Hendrix's health awareness week. The first event, "Take Back the Night," was a huge success. We worked with Student Advocating for Gender Equality to raise awareness about sexual violence and promote healing among survivors. In the week leading up to the event, people were encouraged to share their stories of sexual assault/abuse by writing them down and checking a box indicating whether they felt safe having their story read. The stories were read onstage by members in the audience at the event. We then had a portion that was open mic in which students told their own personal stories of sexual assault. At first, breaking the ice for this portion of the event was hard, but after the first speaker got up and relayed their story, we had people lining up to tell their own stories. People were still waiting in line to tell their own stories after an hour of storytelling.
On a separate night, we screened the documentary, "Let's Talk about Sex." We had a large turnout and were able to discuss cultural impediments to frank discussions about sex between parents and their children. We were able to relay our own stories of the type of sexual education we received and speak freely about what change we would like to see instituted in schools in Arkansas.

Bates D4D Students meet with Mayor Michael Brennan of Portland, ME - 2013 Finalists

On April 25, Bates College students who submitted "Letters to an Elected Official" as part of the Project Pericles D4D competition met with Mayor Michael Brennan of Portland, ME. Students asked Mayor Brennan questions about his own political experience, both in the Maine State Legislature and as the Mayor of Portland. After the meeting, students participated in an end-of-year celebratory dinner. In attendance were Legislative Hearing finalists Jessica Nichols and Kate Paladin, conference attendees Dana Cohen-Kaplan and Alexandra Morrow, Kristen Cloutier, Project Pericles Program Coordinator, Harward Center for Community Partnerships and Ellen Alcorn, Assistant Director of Community-Engaged Learning, Harward Center for Community Partnerships. 

Pericleans in the News

Obama Speaks at Morehouse Graduation

President Barack Obama delivered the commencement address at Morehouse College on May 19th.

Prior to assuming the presidency at Morehouse in 2013, John Silvanus Wilson, Jr. served as the executive director of the White House Initiative on HBCUs during President Obama's first term.

"It was an honor and a privilege to serve the nation, President Obama, and HBCUs. We are honored and privileged to have President Obama deliver the Commencement address at Morehouse this year," said Wilson. "It is fitting that the President visited the alma mater of Martin Luther King, Jr. during the 50th anniversary year of his iconic 'I Have a Dream' speech. President Obama's life story trumpets an ethic that we try to instill in all Morehouse men, namely excellence without apology or compromise," he said.

Wagner Professor Takes Page from Project Pericles' Debating for Democracy to Strengthen Course
By Stephen Preskill

Jason Fitzgerald has been an Assistant Professor of Education at Wagner College for only two years but has already established himself as an excellent teacher, active researcher, engaged scholar, and active participant in Project Pericles. Fitzgerald has developed a variety of ties to Wagner's Port Richmond Partnership and requires most of his students to spend time in Port Richmond, an economically distressed but vibrant and diverse area. These students are providing direct service to Port Richmond, getting to know community partners, collecting data about key initiatives, and conducting community-based research.

Fitzgerald arrived at Wagner with a strong background in multicultural education and consequently was asked to teach a graduate course focusing on multicultural issues called ED605 - the Dynamics of Human Relations. At first, he taught this course in a relatively traditional manner, relying on lectures mixed with small and large group discussion. The evaluations of students were positive, but Fitzgerald sought to engage these aspiring teachers still more, while challenging them to see themselves as policy analysts and advocates who have a point of view as well as strategies for getting that point of view heard.

Taking a page from Project Pericles and its "Letters to an Elected Official" competition, Fitzgerald recently launched the Access and Equity Policy Letter as a requirement for his ED605 students. The idea is to identify an issue that affects the ability of an underrepresented group to take full advantage of educational and related services that are essential to the growth and well-being of the members of the group. The final step is to send a policy letter to a department of education public official in the city, state, or federal government that explains how some students are being shortchanged and what can be done about it.

Fitzgerald divides the students into small groups and together they identify a relevant issue, conduct the extensive background research to support the claims in the letters, and then together compose these letters for final submission to education officials. Examples of letters include requests to:

* ensure that adequate educational services are provided to hospital-bound, chronically ill children;

* revise social studies curricula so that at least 20% of these materials include content on underrepresented groups;

* utilize promising programs to reduce bullying among LGBTQ children;

* adopt community-based arts curricula to support the development of special needs children.

Fitzgerald has been especially pleased with how engaging the students have found these assignments to be, particularly with respect to the fruitful collaborations that have resulted, the quality of the research that has been produced, and the stimulating conversations that are explicitly linking course topics to the actual content of these letters. Perhaps most interesting of all is how empowered students have become in seeking out educational leaders and public officials to answer their questions and to help the students fill in the gaps in their research. Fitzgerald has exhorted students to get into the community to talk to the people who are responsible for the programs that students feel are lacking and to press these officials for explanations and for possible scenarios for effectively addressing their concerns. As a result, students are changing their image of themselves. They are aspiring teachers, yes. But they are also powerful citizens who are invested in helping to bring about a more equitable and accessible educational system for everyone.

Stephen Preskill is the Project Pericles Program Director and Professor of Civic Engagement and Leadership at Wagner College

Longtime Rhodes College Project Pericles Program Director Robert Strandburg Receives Distinguished Service Medal

Dr. Robert J. Strandburg, received the 2013 Rhodes College Distinguished Service Medal for his many contributions to the college, his mentorship of his students, and his role in making Rhodes a leader in the arts and sciences.

Strandburg served as the first Project Pericles Program Director at Rhodes. In his role as associate dean for academic affairs, Strandburg was entrusted with oversight of the college's new Foundations Curriculum implemented in 2007. Strandburg also served as the first director of Rhodes' Center for Academic Research and Education through Service (CARES). 

Widener Students Take on Harrisburg Seeking Debt Reduction 

As part of Student Lobby Day, Widener University students met with nine state senators and four representatives to discuss PA Senate Bill 420 "The Middle Income Student Debt Reduction Act." The Association for Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania (AICUP) in Harrisburg, PA organized the April meetings.

Students in the social work and political science majors, among others, represented Widener while meeting with their state legislators. Students presented legislators with their own research on the cost of higher education, as part of a SuperPAC that they created last fall in one of Dr. Wes Leckrone's political science classes.

The trip, which was co-sponsored by the Office of Civic Engagement, Center for Social Work Education, Political Engagement Committee, and Student Government Association, was a great way to educate students on how to work with government to enact real change. 

"Programs like this show that we really are creating democratic citizens who have the ability to structure change," Elizabeth Housholder, assistant dean of civic engagement, said. "The students have become more interested in getting involved in public service and making a change."

Andrea Stickley, a sophomore political science major, who was involved in some of the planning efforts, was excited to see her classes' efforts come to fruition. "We put all of our classroom knowledge to use and we were able to present our SuperPAC to legislators," she said. "They thought it was great that we had created one and were being proactive."

Periclean Faculty Leader Dr. Marina Barnett's Social Work Policy 342 class participated in the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Association of Social Workers' Annual Student Legislative Advocacy Day. In the fall the students focus on the history of policy, analyzing theories and backgrounds, and during the spring semester they study contemporary advocacy and prepare to lobby on a particular issue during the Legislative Advocacy Day.

Hendrix's Alumni Doing Democracy Host Brigadier General   

Hendrix College hosted alumna Army Reserve Brig. General Leanne Pittman Burch, chief judge of the U.S. Army Legal Services Agency, who spoke at campus as part of the Pericles-sponsored Hendrix Alumni Doing Democracy (HADD). HADD is a program their Pericles committee developed to bring back to campus Hendrix alumni whose work is closely connected with public service. HADD gives current students an opportunity to interact with alumni and learn about careers in public service. Previous guests include a U.S. Congressman, state legislators, and nonprofit leaders.

Rhodes College Junior Frankie Dakin Named a 2013 Truman Scholar

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation recently announced the names of 62 exceptional college juniors out of 629 candidates nominated as 2013 Truman Scholars. Rhodes College political economy major Frankie Dakin is one of them. Dakin recently served as one of Rhodes' student delegates to the 2013 Debating for Democracy National Conference.

A native of Millington, Tenn., Dakin is a participant of Rhodes' Bonner Scholarship program for students who have a passion for service and social justice, and he has served as an intern for Memphis-based organization BRIDGES. In 2012, Dakin became the youngest alderman ever elected in the city of Millington. In March, he received the Vanderhaar Student Peace Award given each year to a local college student.

The Periclean Progress is issued during the academic year and is posted on the Project Pericles website

 To subscribe, email us at garret.batten@projectpericles.org.

To submit Periclean-related information for publication, email us at garret.batten@projectpericles.org.

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

 National Office
Executive Director: Jan R. Liss, jan.liss@projectpericles.org

Board of Directors
Chair: Eugene M. Lang
Vice-Chair: Neil R. Grabois 

 Presidents' Council
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

The title "Project Pericles®" and its embodiment in the Logo are registered service marks of Project Pericles, Inc.  All rights are reserved.