If you're looking for the common good, by the fall of 2008, you'll be able to knock on its door.
The announcement last week of the leadership, launch date, and location of the Center for the Common Good marks the next phase for the center, which was conceived in 2001.
Susie Dorn will act as the center's director, while Craig McEwen will be its senior faculty fellow. Dorn is currently the director of the Community Service Resource Center (CSRC), while McEwen is a former dean for academic affairs and a professor of sociology and anthropology.
"It was an idea that was waiting to happen given the College's long identification with the common good," McEwen said.
The center, which was described in an e-mail announcement as the "central campus resource for supporting, teaching, research, and co-curricular activities grounded in community engagement and public service," is set to launch in fall 2008.
The center will be endowed through the capital campaign, which is looking to raise $3 million for this venture.
Richard Mersereau, secretary of the College, said in an e-mail to the Orient that $2.5 million has been raised so far for the center.
"Considering that there are two years, two months, and five days left in the pledging period for The Bowdoin Campaign I have no doubt that the goal will be surpassed," Mersereau said.
Mersereau added that there may be donors who have said they will support the center, but the College "counts nothing except signed Statements of Intent and actual money that has come in."
The center will be located in Bannister Hall, and the transition to that space will begin this summer with the CSRC's relocation there from Adams Hall.
The programs currently run by the CSRC will fall under the jurisdiction of the center after its launch.
McEwen said that his role in the center includes looking for "opportunities to reflect on service, build context for it so it can more deeply enrich the educational experience of the College."
McEwen will act as a liaison and organizer, and communicate "with individual faculty, to learn what's going on, to offer ideas, to be a resource."
He noted that while he would be working to increase contact on the faculty side, "that's no diminution for the students"
Dorn said that she would be working with students to connect the "curricular to the co-curricular" and to help them discover how "they can personally use their talents and skills to serve the common good."
Dorn gave the example of how the center would assist a student who has established an interest in issues of poverty by suggesting the student volunteer at the Tedford Housing or participate in an Alternative Spring Break trip focusing on homelessness. The center might also direct the student toward a course such as Poverty and Social Policy in the sociology department.
"This is very much about using [the center] to enhance a student's education" Dorn said.
McEwen said that courses and professors working with the center will not be limited to any one department.
"With some imagination, in the right kind of class, it can work in any field, but it can't work in every course," he said. "We're never going to have nor should we have it in all courses."
Dorn said that bringing many of the pre-existing service activities under the umbrella of the center would allow for a more "institutionalized and synergistic approach."
Joy Lee '07, whose involvement with service on campus includes acting as student intern at the CSRC and co-president of the Community Service Council, said that service during her four years at Bowdoin has evolved, and the center is the next step in this progression.
"I think it will put service more at the forefront," Lee said. "We have all these different components to service but this is a more direct statement of how service learning, community service, and student leadership will be involved in the College."
Both Dorn and McEwen stressed that the purpose of the center is not to stifle student, faculty, and staff initiatives.
"It's to help those initiatives take form and develop," McEwen said.
Dorn said that the 2007-2008 academic year would be a "transition year" and that an important part of the process in determining what the center will look like is "the increased dialogue on campus about what it means to use education to serve the common good."
McEwen also said that he expected the center would continue to grow and change even after its official launch date.
"What we'll see in 2008 won't be what it'll be like in 2012," he said.