The Common Good
In the more than two centuries since Joseph McKeen first introduced the idea that graduates of Bowdoin College were under 'peculiar obligation' to exert their talents for the 'benefit of society,' an education for the common good has meant many different things to many different people, as well as the College collectively.
What is the common good and how has its definition changed over time? In 1802, Bowdoin College's President Joseph McKeen declared that "literary institutions," such as Bowdoin, were "founded and endowed for the common good" and that each of its graduates was under "peculiar obligation to exert his talents" for the benefit of society. Since McKeen's era, Bowdoin students and alumni have sought to fulfill this call in a variety of ways.
Drawn from research conducted by students, the following case studies offer insight into their efforts and encourage viewers to consider questions central to the College's history.
- From Soul Saving to Character Building: The Transformation of International Service at Bowdoin College
- "To Bring the Gospel of Reform Home:" Public Affairs Research Centers at Bowdoin College
- An Intrepid Idealism and a Hard Practicality: Bowdoin College During World War II
- A Workshop in Democracy: Student Government at Bowdoin College, 1945-1980
- Informing, Scrutinizing, Debating, and Presenting: The Civic Functions of the Bowdoin Orient
- A Fresh Look and a Fresh Start: Bowdoin College President Roger Howell and the Student Strike of 1970
- Public Engagement in the 21st Century -- The Joseph McKeen Center for the Common Good