The Common Good

Bowdoin's commitment to the common good is not something we own. It is something we seek.
Photo of Joseph McKeen

In his inaugural address on September 2, 1802, Bowdoin President Joseph McKeen committed the college to a special charge. 

"It ought always to be remembered, 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. 

It is not that they may be enabled to pass through life in an easy or reputable manner, but that their mental powers may be cultivated and improved for the benefit of society."

The Common Good's Next Generation

At Bowdoin, that commitment is something that we're serious about: in our classes, in our community, and in our free time. Through the McKeen Center for the Common Good, students are encouraged to think critically about the common good, and then act via a number of channels, including coursework, internships, research, and community service.

The common good also guides how we find applicants who are a good fit for Bowdoin: it's a mindset that doesn't necessarily lead to nonprofit work, teaching, or public service (though it can).

It's a larger view of the world, and an understanding that no matter what fields we pursue, we can make them more accessible and ethical by making space for empathy, understanding, context, and history.

This is the education that you build for yourself.

This is the education you'll bring to the world.