Allegheny College Professor Emily Chivers Yochim Selected as Mellon Periclean Faculty Leader

The program connects the humanities and liberal arts learning to challenges facing the wider campus community, society

Emily Chivers Yochim, Ph.D., associate professor in the Allegheny College Department of Communication, Film and Theatre, is one of 25 faculty members selected by Project Pericles to teach new, innovative courses in the Andrew W. Mellon Periclean Faculty Leadership (PFL) Program™ in the Humanities.

Emily Chivers Yochim, Ph.D.
Emily Chivers Yochim, Ph.D.

This program connects the humanities and liberal arts learning to challenges facing the wider campus community and society more broadly. In collaboration with community partners, Mellon Periclean Faculty Leaders (PFLs) create courses across the humanities that incorporate community-based projects addressing six grand challenges: Climate Change, Education Access, Immigration, Mass Incarceration, Race and Inequality, and Voter Engagement. Project Pericles provides a grant of $4,000 for each PFL to support these civic engagement activities on their campus and in their communities.

Through the PFL program, Yochim will teach a course titled Media Ethnography. Students in the course will conduct interviews with community members to produce The Meadiaville Listening Project, a podcast featuring stories about entanglements of media and everyday life in Meadville. Upcoming seasons of the podcast will focus on the ongoing opioid crisis and Meadville’s recovery community. Yochim will develop and teach this course in partnership with Meadville Calendar, an organization that provides a community platform for promoting local events and initiatives, and Not One More Northwest PA, a drug abuse prevention program.

“The Periclean Faculty Leadership Program is a fantastic opportunity to deepen the collaborations between The Meadiaville Listening Project and the Meadville community,” Yochim said. “Students in the class have loved the relationships that they have developed with Meadville community members through the Meadiaville podcast, and this grant will help us to make those relationships even stronger. I’m very much looking forward to partnering with Meadville Calendar and Not One More Northwest PA to explore how local media can contribute to tackling big, complicated issues like the opioid epidemic.”

Project Pericles is a consortium of more than 30 colleges and universities that promotes civic engagement within higher education and is based in New York City. Allegheny is one of the original 10 schools on which Project Pericles was founded in 2000.

David Roncolato, Ph.D., is director of civic engagement in the Allegheny Gateway and the college’s Project Pericles program director. “This is a wonderful initiative from Project Pericles,” Roncolato said. “I am thrilled that Emily applied and was selected to represent Allegheny College. She will be a remarkable contributor to this Project Pericles community of scholars.”

Presidents and provosts on each campus nominated faculty members with demonstrated leadership potential who can make significant contributions on their campuses and in their communities. Nominations were submitted in collaboration with one or more community partners, ranging from an abbess in a nunnery to the acting assistant commissioner from the department of corrections. Community partners provided letters of support, making the vision for these courses powerful. Academic experts serving as outside evaluators then reviewed all applications before final selections were made.

Project Pericles’ outside evaluators were impressed with the excellent quality of the proposals and commented, “This cohort of proposals has tremendous potential to influence pedagogy on liberal arts campuses across the nation. Each in its own way pushes the envelope around what liberal learning can entail—inviting new approaches to civic engagement, activist learning, and community-based education,” and “Each will make a difference in the lives of their students, in the quality of life of their communities, and in the teaching of the humanities.”

This newly selected cohort of PFLs will spend 2020-2021 in conversation with their community partners to fine-tune their community-based projects and course requirements before the courses are taught in 2021-2022. The faculty represent a diverse and dynamic group of professors from recent Ph.D.s to full professors and department chairs in a wide range of disciplines including: Asian Studies, Culture and Economy, Education, English, Environmental Studies, French and Francophone Studies, Latinx Studies, Media and Communications, Music, Peace and Social Justice Studies, Philosophy, Religion, Rhetoric Studies, Spanish, Theater, and Women’s and Gender Studies.

This select group joins an earlier cohort of Mellon PFLs and expands the vibrant, national community of PFLs dedicated to incorporating civic engagement into the curriculum while empowering students to use their academic knowledge to tackle real-world problems. PFLs reflect together and inspire each other. As part of the program, PFLs share their pedagogical approaches, experiences, and evaluations with higher education, more generally, through scholarly presentations and publications. They have a tremendous influence on their colleagues on their campus and across the nation, exemplifying how the humanities are enhanced by meaningful campus-community relationships.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and The Eugene M. Lang Foundation supported this national initiative, recognizing the power of the PFL Program to highlight the relevancy of the humanities. Project Pericles shares with The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation the goal of supporting the humanities, and the liberal arts more generally, in long-term sustainable ways, and in addressing real-world concerns. Prior support was provided by The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations (AVDF) and The Teagle Foundation. Additionally, AVDF recently awarded Project Pericles $300,000 to launch a PFL Program in STEM and Social Sciences, complementing the Mellon PFL Program in the Humanities.