The Roux Center for the Environment, located on the corner of Harpswell Road and College Street, was officially dedicated yesterday. Beyond additional classrooms, study spaces and offices for students and faculty, the newest academic building represents an approach to innovation and interdisciplinary learning for the College moving forward.
“The opening of the Roux Center for the Environment is a milestone and inflection point for the College in several important respects,” said President Clayton Rose.
He cited the study of the environment, a physical space for interdisciplinary work and the building’s technological capabilities as three factors that distinguish it from other campus buildings.
“It creates a true physical place on campus to role model interdisciplinary work,” he said.
He added that the modern classrooms will shape Bowdoin students’ learning for many years.
“We’re at the beginning of really understanding what we can do with those [classrooms] and how we can fully maximize those spaces for teaching and learning in the years ahead,” said Rose. “Not simply in working around the environment, but across every discipline, and ultimately learning from that space so we can take that to lots of other places here.”
In a keynote address yesterday evening, environmental advocate Philippe Cousteau expressed that the Roux Center has potential to promote alternative methods of studying climate change and the environment.
“At an institute of higher learning, this is where the seeds of innovation are planted. This kind of thinking is what we need to be sending these leaders out into the world, and that is exactly—for me, as I learn about the Roux Center—what it stands for: this idea of a multidisciplinary approach,” said Cousteau.
In response to an audience member’s question about what his three primary focuses would be if he were the director of the Roux Center, Cousteau said he would teach public speaking and storytelling skills so that students could effectively communicate their ideas. He also encouraged discourse with those who may disagree about the importance of combating environmental issues.
“As a training exercise for my students, [they would] go out, communicate and try and find ways to build bridges with those people,” Cousteau said.
Plans for the center were first announced in February 2016 after a $10 million donation by David and Barbara Roux P’14. That amount was augmented by additionalfunds secured by Rose and the Office of Development. The building officially opened at the start of the semester, though some scheduled classes were moved in the first couple weeks as construction stretched longer than the College had originally anticipated.
Kicking off yesterday’s event was an academic symposium entitled “Understanding Our Environmental Future: Science, Policy, and Art,” followed by Cousteau’s keynote address entitled “Our Oceans, Our Future.”
This afternoon, there will be an open-house and student-led tours of the Roux Center. The festivities will continue tonight, when indie-pop group MisterWives and student band Sweet Anne and the Milkmen will perform at a dedication concert in Morrell Gym.