Eugene M. Lang founded Project Pericles in 2001 to tackle the growing political cynicism and civic disengagement among young people. In 2016, Project Pericles will celebrate its 15th anniversary, and to honor Mr. Lang's vision we are expanding a program he cherished: Student Choices – Student Voices (SCSV).
SCSV is a Periclean program that encourages colleges and universities to develop innovative programs to engage voters in the election process. SCSV seeks to increase voter registration and voting by students and community members. As part of SCSV, Pericleans hold events on campus and/or in the community that relate to an aspect of the 2016 Presidential Elections. SCSV encourages and facilitates thoughtful engagement of students in the political process—learning about candidates, understanding issues, and championing knowledgeable opinions. Most importantly, Project Pericles offers a platform to exchange ideas and share practices leading to innovative activities.
SCSV fuels engaged citizenship by (1) sharing information and resources to encourage students and community members to be knowledgeable about candidates and important issues, (2) creating a space for dialogue, and (3) helping to register students and community members to vote. The three components of SCSV build on the strengths of our national consortium to support, share, and collaborate on initiatives involving all participating campuses.
Campuses utilize an array of opportunities including:
- Information Activities: Events to promote knowledge and voter registration are shared with participating campuses. Activities include the screening of debates and documentaries, the creation of issue agendas, and panel discussions on critical issues. Frequent updates about ongoing initiatives are provided to inspire other colleges and universities.
- Digital Resources: A comprehensive database of articles, books, and documentaries organized by themes, as well as websites to get students more informed are made available.
- Registration Tools: Best practices to get students and community members registered are available. Toolkits to facilitate registration are offered to use on campus and in the community.
Periclean Program Directors have been nominating students from their institution to serve on the SCSV student taskforce. The taskforce serves as a focal point on each campus and shares tools, as well as information on national issues with students, faculty, staff, and community members. The taskforce also organizes activities to promote engaged citizenship and political participation.
To better understand the interests of undergraduates, Project Pericles surveyed students to find out the topics they are passionate about, which helps us deliver the resources we offer them. Project Pericles grouped students interested in the same issues together. Suggestions provided by the taskforce were added to reference materials offering activity and event ideas to inform students about political candidates and topics, to share resources to engage fellow students, and to register eligible voters.
Project Pericles is offering grants to students to support their work on campus. Through November 2016, we will review proposals on a rolling basis and fund the most ambitious and innovative efforts.