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"New Outreach for Classics"

Jason Pedicone

Paideia Institute

In recent decades, outreach and service learning have become buzzwords in higher education. For many fields, these terms connote issues both of relevance (how is our field applicable “real world” problems?) and of access to educational opportunities (how can we reach out to non-traditional groups of students?). This paper will address these questions as they apply to classics. Declining enrollments in Latin and Greek at both the university and high school level and a dismal academic job market necessitate that, for the field to survive and thrive, teachers and professors of classics creatively re-imagine how classics is taught, where classics is taught, what kinds of professions outside of academia are available to trained classicists, and how individuals outside of academia proper can remain engaged with the field. This paper will explore how this may be done, in part, through rigorous outreach initiatives. 

The paper will not only address current successful initiatives, but also seek to define more clearly what outreach means today. Starting with fundamental questions about outreach, the paper will ask: what are the goals of outreach, to whom should we reach out, how should we reach out, and, importantly, how should we teach classics and increase access to classics without perpetuating an elitist and colonialist legacy. Ultimately, the paper will outline a model for outreach that looks both outward and inward – outward to increase access to classics by reaching non-traditional learner communities and teaching with non-traditional pedagogies, and inward to redefine the field by opening new avenues for engagement with classics and diversifying the voices within the field.

After addressing these questions, the paper will explore the lay of the land, and focus on two outreach initiatives of the Paideia Institute: the Aequora initiative, which engages teachers and graduate students to teach weekly introductory Latin classes in elementary schools and community centers in disadvantaged neighborhoods, and the Legion Project, which collects profiles of individuals who received graduate degrees in classics and now work outside of academia.

Through Aequora, Paideia reinforces English literacy through Latin for elementary and middle school students in disadvantaged areas through innovative active-language pedagogies. Many Aequora sites run in Spanish-speaking communities, and the curriculum emphasizes connections between English and Latin and Spanish and Latin, encouraging students to take ownership of all three languages. Students read texts and also produce their own compositions, using Latin as a means of creative self-expression. Since the program was founded in 2013 through a partnership between the Paideia Institute and Still Waters in a Storm, the program has expanded to six sites in New York and Philadelphia, and the Institute has developed a curriculum that can be easily replicated throughout the country.

The Legion Project collects profiles of individuals who earned undergraduate and/or graduate degrees in classics and are now pursuing successful careers in other fields. Through this project, Paideia is creating a resource for students in classics considering careers in other fields and redefining what it means to be a classicist by building a network of brilliant individuals who are passionate about classics and encouraging them to re-engage with the field. 

Session/Panel Title

New Outreach and Communications for Classics: Persons, Places, and Things

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