The Offer of the College

If you're thinking seriously about what you can offer the Bowdoin community, let's start with what Bowdoin offers you.

In 1906, Bowdoin's seventh president, William DeWitt Hyde, wrote the words below about the outcomes of a Bowdoin education. Over a century later, on a campus that has changed dramatically, they still guide us today. 


The Offer of the College

TO BE AT HOME in all lands and all ages;
To count Nature a familiar acquaintance, and Art an intimate friend;
To gain a standard for the appreciation of others' work
And the criticism of your own;
To carry the keys of the world's library in your pocket,
And feel its resources behind you in whatever task you undertake;
To make hosts of friends... Who are to be leaders in all walks of life;
To lose yourself in generous enthusiasms
And cooperate with others for common ends -
This is the offer of the college for the best four years of your life.

 

Adapted from the original "Offer of the College"
by William DeWitt Hyde, President of Bowdoin College 1885–1917


A liberal arts education cultivates the mind and the imagination; encourages seeking after truth, meaning, and beauty; awakens an appreciation of past traditions and present challenges; fosters joy in learning and sharing that learning with others; supports taking the intellectual risks required to explore the unknown, test new ideas, and enter into constructive debate; and builds the foundation for making principled judgments.

It hones the capacity for critical and open intellectual inquiry—the interest in asking questions, challenging assumptions, seeking answers, and reaching conclusions supported by logic and evidence. A Bowdoin education rests fundamentally on the free exchange of ideas—on conversation and questioning—that thrives in classrooms, lecture halls, laboratories, studios, dining halls, playing fields, and dormitory rooms. Ultimately, a liberal arts education promotes independent thinking, individual action, and social responsibility.

Graduates should leave Bowdoin with the ability to engage competing views critically, to make principled judgments that inform their practice, and to work effectively with others as informed citizens, committed to constructing a just and sustainable world.

VIDEO:
DeRay Mckesson ’07: Ferguson Social Media and the Common Good

Activist and blogger DeRay Mckesson ’07 returned to Bowdoin to talk about his role in Ferguson and activism in the black community.

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