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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Project Pericles helps foster civic engagement between Carleton and community

<ril 8th and 9th during second week we were fortunate enough to serve as delegates to Project Pericles’ national civic engagement conference called Debating for Democracy. However, when we told our friends and professors what we were going to New York to do, we found that most people on campus don’t even know what Project Pericles is or that we have an office of Academic Civic Engagement (ACE) on our campus.

Project Pericles is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1999 to promote civic engagement and social responsibility on American college campuses. Carleton has only recently been invited to join the organization’s 27 member colleges, which include Swarthmore, Macalester and Bates. Project Pericles seeks to help campuses develop their own civic engagement programs and initiatives, such as Carleton’s ACE office, as well as to provide opportunities for students and faculty from multiple institutions to collaborate and learn from one another.

In order to participate in this conference, we were asked to write a letter to an elected official addressing a current public policy. We wrote to Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN-D) about holistic federal transportation reform. Out of over 50 entries, our letter was one of six semi-finalists, meaning that we presented our cause to a panel of retired senators at the conference and won $500 for continued advocacy for transportation issues. In addition to presenting our letter, we attended a number of workshops and panels led by advocates in the field of education, journalism, and social entrepreneurship. It was an amazing experience and definitely got us thinking about new ways that Carleton students can apply their numerous academic skills to needs around the region.

Maybe you’ve taken a course where you worked with Northfielders while gathering data for an assignment. Or perhaps you’ve met the director of ACE, Professor Adrienne Falcon, when she came into your class to talk about opportunities for service learning or applied projects. Still, ACE is just barely two years old at Carleton, and we want to emphasize the important symbiotic relationship these courses are creating between the college and our neighbors. Project Pericles illustrates the national momentum that is growing behind community-based learning, and we want to let students know that opportunities such as the Debating for Democracy conference exist so that they can further develop their own projects and activism.

In the coming year we plan on bringing some of those speakers and experiences to the Carleton campus. In doing this, we hope to raise awareness about the larger merits of academic civic engagement and the application of academic interests outside of our campus. If you have any questions, ideas, or want to find out how to get involved, send us an e-mail (nashl, turovskc, or levyd), contact Adrienne Falcon (afalcon), or go to the ACE website at

-Dan Levy, Logan Nash and Charlotte Turovsky are third-year students

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