About Project Pericles

Education and Citizenship

“Our Government does not copy our neighbors. But it is an example to them. It is true that we are called a democracy. For the administration is in the hands of the many and not of the few. But while there exists equal justice to all and alike in their private disputes, the claim of excellence is also recognized. And when a citizen is in any way distinguished, he is preferred to the public service, not as a matter of privilege, but as the reward of merit. Neither is poverty an obstacle. But a man may benefit his country whatever the obscurity of his condition…”

Funeral Oration (per Thucydides)

Three Pitzer College courses have been selected for funding by Project Pericles: Topics in Native American Art History: Native California Non-Violent Social Change and Non Citizens in Wartime America.

The College will receive $6,000 in matching funds for the three funded courses and $800 for an administrative honorarium.

Project Pericles 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 and out of the classroom. This learning experience is intended to provide students with a foundation for social and civic involvement and a conviction that democratic institutions and processes offer each person the best opportunity to improve the condition of society.

The Legacy of Pericles

In the fifth century BCE, Pericles brought democracy to Athens. By 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 of Pericles was a core precept of America's founding philosophy. Alexis de Tocqueville bore witness to it in chracterizing the United States uniquely as a country in which each citizen takes an active responsiblity for the well-being of the community.

The Legacy of Pericles Is Challenged

The forces of social, economic, and technological change have been draining the vitality of Pericles' legacy. It is well recognized that, during the latest decades, active personal engagement in social issues and civic concerns among Americans has declined. Concurrently, a growing cynicism questions the efficacy of our political institutions and the utility of their processes. These trends in popular attitude have weakened our social fabric. Their implications challenge our future as a democratic society.

Higher Education and the Legacy of Pericles

Historically, higher education in the United States has been closely connected to the legacy of Pericles. Its mission has embraced the preparation in an expanding pluralistic society in which citizenship, social responsibility, and community are inseparable.