Joseph McKeen
Center for the Common Good

Welcome to the McKeen Center!

Story posted August 29, 2013

At the opening of the College in 1802, Bowdoin President Joseph McKeen declared that, "...literary institutions are founded and endowed for the common good, and not for the private advantage of those who resort to them for education."

The Joseph McKeen Center for the Common Good helps students interpret this mission by providing opportunities to discover the ways in which their talents, passions, and academic pursuits can be used for the benefit of society through public engagement.

As you find your place at Bowdoin, also take the time to think about the community of Brunswick, Maine that you are now a part of. Explore our website to learn more about all the programs offered through the McKeen Center and sign-up for our weekly e-newsletter Service News by emailing Sarah Seames,

Service and Leadership Programs

  • Community Immersion Pre-Orientation trips connect first years with the Bowdoin and Brunswick communities as students spend four days engaged in hands-on work confronting the social, economic, and environmental issues facing Midcoast Maine.
  • Alternative Break Trips provide an opportunity during winter and spring breaks for students to participate in an intensive public service experience in communities throughout the country and abroad while increasing their understanding of significant social and environmental problems.
  • America Reads and Counts tutors provide valuable literacy and math help to elementary and middle school students in the local Brunswick area.
  • The Bowdoin Volunteer Corps is comprised of 28 student-run volunteer groups that work closely with local agencies to address a wide range of issues facing Maine communities.
  • Bowdoin students connect with local children to help develop their confidence, character, and aspirations to attend college in our Bridge to Kids Mentoring programs.
  • On Bowdoin's annual day of service, Common Good Day, over 500 students, faculty, and staff connect with each other and the local community through an afternoon of service.
  • The Common Good Grant Program provides students the opportunity to learn about philanthropy and non-profits while giving away over $10,000 to local agencies.
  • Weekend Service Trips allow students to venture off campus for a few days and connect with a Maine community through service.

Courses and Research

  • In sponsorship with local agencies, students in community-based courses apply the knowledge and analytical skills gained in the classroom to address environmental, social and cultural issues within the community.
  • Courses with a community-based component or option are designated that way in the online course listings in the right-hand column where lab sessions are also listed.

Fellowships and Beyond

  • Community Matters in Maine Summer Fellowships allow students to explore work in the public sector while developing an understanding of issues at the local level through placements with local organizations.
  • Global Citizens Grants provide students with the opportunity to pursue summer volunteer and public service projects outside of the United States.
  • The year-long Seeking the Common Good Series encourages and supports learning and reflection about the meaning of the common good through a variety of public events.
  • The Career Planning Center is a great resource for other grants to work with non-profits and to further explore service career aspirations.

Be sure to visit the McKeen Center when you get here in September to learn more about ways that you can build on your personal interests and make meaningful community connections.  We are located in Banister Hall, which is a part of the Chapel, located right in the center of campus.

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