Message to the Bowdoin Community (September 12, 2017)

To students, faculty, and staff, 

Today we announce an initiative designed to help students explore in a new way the rewards and challenges of working in government agencies, political offices, and non-governmental organizations engaged in public policy. Beginning this spring, the new Bowdoin Public Service (BPS) Initiative will immerse participating students in the world of Washington, DC, connect them there and elsewhere with Bowdoin alumni, parents, and others who do this work, fund paid summer internships in the nation’s capital, and engage all of us by bringing important speakers to campus for public lectures and symposia on topics related to public policy. 

This initiative comes at a time when there is a growing chorus of detractors questioning the effectiveness of government and the value of public service, a point of view clearly not shared by the many accomplished men and women associated with the College who have made this an important part of their lives’ work, and who exemplify what it means to serve the common good. Among these is our graduate Ambassador Thomas Pickering ’53, H’84 who helped to inspire the program and who is working with us to make it a success. With Tom’s help and that of others in the Bowdoin community who have served or continue to serve in leadership positions in government, the BPS Initiative will provide our students with unparalleled access to people, information, and opportunities in government. Our hope and expectation is that it will help to further inform and motivate students interested in public service and provide them an experience that will encourage them further to pursue careers in these fields.

The BPS Initiative will be housed in the McKeen Center for the Common Good and will be administered by Sarah Chingos, the center’s associate director for public service. The application process for the program will begin in early October, with information provided on the McKeen Center website​. 

Our announcement—now on the Bowdoin website—provides additional information about the program. I hope you will take the time to review it and to encourage students with an interest in public service to participate.