Project Pericles

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.

“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)

Education and Citizenship
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.
Pitzer College and Project Pericles
The goals of Project Pericles are not instantiated in a single project or program here at Pitzer College, but rather dovetail with the core educational philosophies of the college as a whole. The primary vehicles for realizing the goals of social responsibility and civic engagement in local communities are the Community Engagement Center (CEC) and the Pitzer Program in Ontario, each of which oversees an array of programs and projects that promote the goals of Project Pericles on and off-campus. Through the support of Project Pericles, Pitzer College has extended its commitment to these goals through a number of interrelated initiatives.
Social Responsibility Committee of the Pitzer Board of Trustees
Social responsibility is one of the six educational objectives of Pitzer College. By undertaking social responsibility and by examining the ethical implications of knowledge, students learn to evaluate the effects of actions and social policies and to take responsibility for making the world we live in a better place. As a direct result of our membership in Project Pericles, the Pitzer Board of Trustees formed a social responsibility committee to oversee these critical learning goals for Pitzer’s students. As part of its charge, the trustee social responsibility oversees the efforts of the Community Engagement Center and the Program in Ontario in realizing these goals.
Social Responsibility Assessment Project
Through a generous grant from Project Pericles, Pitzer College undertook a comprehensive assessment of its implementation of the social responsibility objective as represented in both academic and non-curricular programs. The project has three components: (i) An inventory of all the courses and programs which seek to address the educational objective for social responsibility; a thorough review of the ways in which students are satisfying this requirement. (ii) An assessment of the effectiveness of collaborative efforts for our community partners; a determination of the extent to which our partnership has had a positive influence on their programs. (iii) The collection of information about faculty and students’ experiences with courses and community-based learning and service projects that meet the social responsibility educational objective in order to document opinions as well as to assess impacts on attitudes and behavior.
Civic Engagement Courses
Through its emphasis on socially responsible and community-based education, Pitzer College has retained its commitment to academic service learning and its strong roots in the ethos as well as the actions of our faculty and students. Through a challenge grant from Project Pericles, Pitzer College seeks to expand its offerings in Civic Engagement Courses While the initial courses were concentrated in the social sciences, Project Pericles support now allows us to develop new courses in the humanities and the natural sciences as well.