|Volume XXVIII Issue 9||October 31, 2002|
Project Pericles promotes involvement on
campus and abroad, makes an impact
Steve Early - Reporter
This winter Elon faculty, staff and students will start work on Project Pericles, a new program aimed at increasing civic engagement. Elon is one of 10 charter schools in the program, started by philanthropist Eugene Lang.
This year the program has a $100,000 budget, as Lang matched Elonís contribution of $50,000.
Earlier this year, each of the 10 schools composed a draft outlining their program. Elonís plan was written by director and sociology professor Tom Arcaro, associate provost Nancy Midgette and history professor Jim Bissett.
At the center of the schoolís program is a stepladder general-studies program ó essentially an extension of the freshman-core class, The Global Experience. The program will have similarly themed classes at the sophomore, junior and senior levels with an increasing focus on taking action on whatís discussed in the classroom.
"Students come out of Global wanting to do something about the people they learned about who are in trouble," Arcaro said. "Now when they get angry, excited and concerned they can channel their energy in an engaged and socially responsible way."
With the new global classes starting next year, service sabbaticals and course enhancement grants are two more immediate ways Project Pericles will make a difference.
All faculty and staff members are eligible to take a one-month service sabbatical to work with a community organization. The faculty or staff member may also have four student interns work with them on their service project.
"If students see someone in a position of authority who they respect doing service, theyíll think, ĎMaybe I should too,í" Arcaro said. Currently, four staff members have received service sabbaticals. They are University Relations staff member Christopher Eyl, PC Software support specialist David Morton, Associate Registrar Susan Patton and Environmental Services staff member Leroy White.
The first four sabbaticals reflect the diversity afforded by Project Pericles. Eyl will bike across the country to raise money for the Childrenís Advocacy Center of Crossroads Sexual Assault Response and Resource Center. Morton will manage an Internet project for the Alamance-Burlington school system. Patton will research the possibility of beginning an internship program at a local Christian ministry through area schools and White will expand his involvement as a teaching assistant in Excel Christian Academyís after-school program.
All students may inquire about the intern spots by contacting Arcaro.
Professors can apply for course enhancement grants as well. About 50 professors are involved one way or another with course enhancement grants.
This winterís Australia study abroad course is one of the enhanced classes. Students will be working with Aboriginal peoples to build a playground. "Instead of watching or listening to Aborigines, students will be working hand-in-hand with them," Arcaro said. "You learn so much about people from working together."
Professor Melinda Riceís spring semester Introduction to Education honors class takes action locally. Students will research differences in funding between wealthy districts and those less affluent. "There is a lot of concern about this right now because students in wealthier districts receive more advantages," Rice said. "Itís a very timely thing. Hope County just brought a lawsuit against the state because of lack of funds." After extensive background research students will submit proposals to the department of public instruction and state legislature on how to remedy the problem.
Also taking advantage of the grant is professor Mike Sanfordís Advanced Ceramics class, also in the spring. "We were involved with a fundraiser with Crossroads [Sexual Assault Response and Resource Center] and wanted to build on that relationship," Sanford said. The advanced students, former students, interested beginning ceramic students and Sanford will make ceramic bowls for the centerís "Make a Sundae - Make a Difference" fund-raiser. Patrons pay $15 to get into the ice cream social and get to keep the piece of pottery.
As part of Sanfordís proposal, students will also help Crossroads with product promotional material. "We want to heighten student awareness about the tragedies and the pain that rape causes for people," he said, adding, "We want people who experience this tragic event to know there are services available."
Arcaro said Project Pericles is a natural extension of Elonís tradition of community service and experiential learning. "Project Pericles is exactly what Elon has always been doing and it will help do it better in the future.
Midgette also recognized Elonís commitment to service. "Those who are fortunate enough to have more resources than most have a responsibility to their fellow man," she said. "I think the student body in general accepts this."
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