Project Grants and Sponsors

Practicing Pluralism and the Illumination Project

Student on stage

In 2006, Portland Community College proposed and received the Ford Foundation Difficult Dialogues grant for: Practicing Pluralism: Interactive Theater, Campus Climate and Academic Freedom to create a campus environment where controversial topics can be discussed in an atmosphere of open academic inquiry with respect for diverse people and perspectives.

The project will facilitate a college-wide approach to promoting pluralism at an increasingly diverse college and will build on PCC’s innovative Illumination Project (IP) – the year-long academic and interactive theater program that exists to foster a climate of equality, justice, and respect for all people at PCC.

The Ford Foundation

The foundation is a resource for innovative people and institutions worldwide. For more then half a century, their goals have been to:

  • Strengthen democratic values,
  • Reduce poverty and injustice,
  • Promote international cooperation and
  • Advance human achievement

Other Practicing Pluralism Activities

Practicing Pluralism builds on the work of the IP, by extending its influence and integrating its principles in a range of new initiatives at PCC. Not only will the Illumination Project add a focus on religious pluralism and academic freedom but the IP will perform at more venues on PCC’s various campuses, and involve more faculty members to broaden the project’s impact and support greater institutional change.

Other new features introduced by Practicing Pluralism include:

  • Campus-wide forums on academic freedom and religious and cultural pluralism.
    • Spring 2007, Religious Pluralism, Sylvania Campus
    • Fall 2007, Academic Freedom, Cascade Campus
  • Pre and post performance curriculum to accompany Illumination Project performances.
  • IP Performances and related information presented at various PCC staff and faculty in-services.
  • Workshops at the Teaching and Learning Center on the themes of academic freedom and religious and cultural pluralism. In February of 2007 the annual TLC Anderson conference will also be focused on related themes
  • Learning Communities focused on religious and cultural pluralism. 
  • A training DVD and guidebook on how to replicate the IP model which will be disseminated to other educational institutions will be completed by the Fall of 2007.
Play Scene

Students enacting a scene involving religious intolerance on campus

PCC expects Practicing Pluralism to affect institutional change, in particular an improved campus climate supportive of different religions, cultures, and academic freedom. Anticipated long-term changes include fewer incidents of bias and censorship and increases in the number of student unions and clubs reflecting a variety of cultures and religions. Furthermore, evaluation of Practicing Pluralism activities will inform the ongoing work of the PCC President’s Diversity Committee.

Practicing Pluralism is co-coordinated by Jeannie LaFrance and Dr. Jan Abu Shakrah. As the Illumination Project coordinator Ms. LaFrance also has over 20 years experience using theater as a vehicle for constructive community dialogue. She holds a BA in English and Theater from Lewis and Clark College. Dr. Abu Shakrah is the faculty chair of the PCC Sylvania Economics, Political Science and Sociology Department and the Muslim Student Association staff advisor. She has been a leader on peace and conflict resolution in the Middle East and Portland. She holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Other Supporters

The Illumination Project has received support from a variety of organizations and departments, both on and off the PCC Campus.