Project Pericles hosted a six-hour workshop Sept. 24 in the Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art to give students the tools to initiate change and to motivate them to pursue their political goals. The workshop was titled “D4D on the Road,” which stands for “Debating for Democracy.” It teaches students to apply values to the discussions fostered by democracy. Project Pericles is a non-profit organization that helps educate and encourage college students to be active and engaged citizens.
Kristin Daly-Barnes, an Ursinus student who participated in the workshop, praised the organization’s commitment to inspiring young adults: “I had expected to – and truly did – find the conference productive and interesting, but I did not anticipate to so greatly benefit from meeting Jan Liss, Executive Director of Project Pericles. Her dedication to fostering civic engagement and student leadership is inspiring. She illustrates the importance of incorporating personal values into her work, rather than living a life motivated solely by financial or material gains.”
Ursinus’ community service organization, UCare, organized the event. Professor Christian Rice, director of the Bonner Leader and Pericles programs, commented on what the conference was able to present to students, “D4D at Ursinus was a great opportunity for our students to learn the tools and skills necessary to engage the political process and affect change on an issue they care about. I was also pleased that students from Widener University, a fellow Periclean institution, participated in the workshop.” The event united students who were interested in being active and influential members of society.
During the workshop, students were encouraged to consider morals and methods associated with lobbying, organizing, and campaigning. Students shared their own ideas about important ethics in a society and ways that they could start making a difference. They discussed values and how they unite us as individuals despite differing political views. They participated in a mock debate and voting session concerning a bill that had recently been presented to the senate. This gave them the chance to not only learn about persuasive communication, but to start putting it into practice as well.
The conference seemed to encourage and impact the students who attended. Kristin Daly-Barnes saw the workshop as motivational and informative, “The most noteworthy lesson I took from D4D is that we students have the power to effectively affect change in society – be it through community service, voting, writing to local representatives, or spreading awareness about important societal issues. What’s more is that with this knowledge of our ability comes a responsibility to act upon it. The Ursinus community is filled with intelligent, forward-thinking leaders, and we cannot take the opportunities we have both been bestowed and earned for granted.”
Students were clearly able to recognize the tools that the workshop discussed as applicable to everyday life as both students and citizens. — Photos and Story By Allison Cavanaugh, 2013