Evan Gershkovich ’14 uses Bowdoin Dining skills to feed hundreds in Nepal after earthquake
"I’m a graduate now...four years on from my first Ivies, and I haven’t woken up early to drink this time. It’s 10 a.m. in Kathmandu, Nepal"
Week in Haiku: Haterade
The haters do hate,
And I drink their Haterade:
Find the common good: green policy in the U.S.
For Bowdoin students, the phrase “the common good” is quite familiar. We find a version of the phrase in the Offer of the College—“cooperate with others for common ends.” On our way to class every day we pass by the Joseph McKeen Center for the Common Good, named in honor of the first president of the College who said that “literary institutions are founded and endowed for the common good;” President Barry Mills and Former Maine Senator George Mitchell have given speeches at the College about the common good; in September, 472 of us participated in our annual Common Good Day. The reminders go on.
We are also very familiar with the environmental movement. We see “Dan the Can” collecting recycling at our varsity basketball games; a banner in Smith Union reminds us that Bowdoin is currently leading the NESCAC “Recycle Mania” standings; around campus, posters reiterate Bowdoin’s commitment to become carbon-neutral by the year 2020, and the following appears in Bowdoin’s “Environmental Mission Statement:” “As educators, scholars, and citizens long dedicated to the common good and privileged to ‘count Nature a familiar acquaintance,’ we, the members of the Bowdoin community, pledge ourselves and our efforts to this cause and to a just and sustainable future.” (Note how the phrase “the common good” pops up once again.)
Bowdoin students, however, won’t remain at the College for very long. Soon (whether in a few months or a few years), we will re-enter a society dominated by a political system that has not held itself to its obligations to secure a manageable future. We will soon find ourselves embroiled in a political narrative that has, by and large, failed to adequately acknowledge the findings of climate scientists.
In a recent article covering a leaked draft report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a United Nations panel of climate experts, The New York Times reported that “another 15 years of failure to limit carbon emissions could make the problem virtually impossible to solve with current technologies, experts found. A delay would most likely force future generations to develop the ability to suck greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere and store them underground to preserve the livability of the planet, the report found. But it is not clear whether such technologies will ever exist at the necessary scale, and even if they do, the approach would probably be wildly expensive compared with taking steps now to slow emissions.”
Our political system, however, is also at an unprecedented impasse, and is unlikely to pass necessary legislation any time soon. Passing this legislation would require a great mobilization of our political will and a commitment to expanding our political interests to a global scale. Although the College has sought to teach us to learn, serve and lead for the common good, the ideology of liberal democracy and the free exercise of liberty does not reserve a place for this notion. If we trace back liberal philosophy’s origins to John Locke, we find an espousal of what we can call the harm principle: we are all free to do whatever we please as long as we do not harm others. Liberalism’s infamous critic, Karl Marx, wrote that this understanding of liberty limits us to exist as “isolated monads,” withdrawn into ourselves. For Marx, liberal philosophy locates our freedom in isolation from others, rather than in community.
We need not be Marxists, however, to take a critique of liberalism seriously. That is, if we want our politics to do more than serve the ideology of self-affirmation of freedom to no common end, and, to take seriously our obligations to future generations, we will have to act radically and urgently.
The Yale economist William Nordhaus argued in his recent book, “The Climate Casino,” that we need a carbon tax (and that we needed it yesterday, according to the IPCC); however, our liberal ideology is very unfriendly to taxation. Moreover, in 2010, Congress failed to pass a cap-and-trade system, similar in some respects to a carbon tax, and today, we find ourselves at an even greater partisan deadlock.
The task of generating the enormous political will required for necessary environmental legislation falls squarely on the shoulders of our generation. And to rise up to that immense demand as we enter into American society, we ought to bring with us Bowdoin’s championing of the common good.
Evan Gershkovich is a member of the Class of 2014.
Homann finds room for students among big names in art
When Joachim Homann was hired to be the Bowdoin Art Museum’s curator in 2010, he immediately set one goal for himself: to promote student participation. “I want to bring together the energetic campus body and the amazing work here,” Homann told the Orient in 2010. “The Museum is not just a place for art historians. It is a place for everyone on campus.”
Seniors curate Pre-Raphaelite exhibit
When Ben Livingston ’13 and Ursula Moreno-VanderLaan ’13 signed up to take Associate Professor Pamela Fletcher’s art history course, “The Pre-Raphaelites” last spring, they had no idea they would have to curate their own exhibit to pass. “‘We Never See Anything Clearly:’ John Ruskin and Landscape Painters” debuted at the Bowdoin Museum of Art on Wednesday and is composed of works from the permanent collection chosen by the two seniors.
Painter Bradford discusses ‘playful’ process
Artist Katherine Bradford brought her light-hearted artistic process to life last Tuesday, speaking to students in the same playful manner in which she paints. Students received an inside look at a uniquely spontaneous artistic process in a lecture given at the Visual Arts Center. Bradford discussed the inspiration she finds in her chosen medium, tracing her artistic development through the course of her career.
Solo paint exhibit debuts at Coleman Burke
The Coleman Burke Gallery debuted its first solo paint show last week, featuring the work of Maine artist Arlee Woodworth. According to the gallery’s press release, the collection “blends the essence of abstraction with [Woodworth’s] passion for the natural environment that she grew up in.” Woodworth works primarily with oil paints and collage, often on wood. Her art is composed of organic, abstract figures and forms, mixing striking colors with subtle relationships.
Cover band Suck My NESCAC to perform at Epicuria
Tomorrow night, the men’s rugby team will host Epicuria, its 23rd annual toga party at Ladd House. For the second year in a row, the event will feature Suck My NESCAC, a pop-punk cover band made up of seniors Hunter Rusack, Phil Cuddeback, Robbie Deveny, and David Raskin. I spoke with the band earlier this week about their tunes, their history, and their hopes for the future—especially tomorrow night’s performance.
CMCA show honors Wethli, Bisbee
The works of two Bowdoin professors will be exhibited at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art (CMCA) in Rockport beginning May 19. The show, which will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the CMCA, will feature Professor of Art Mark Wethli and Lecturer in Art John Bisbee, along with three other Maine artists.
Art historian to connect visual arts, neuroscience
Art historian Barbara M. Stafford will channel the philosophy of a liberal arts education on Thursday, when she presents her ongoing research on the interrelations of art and neuroscience.
Vance offers painterly perspective
Rising star Lesley Vance will visit campus Wednesday in celebration of the opening of her solo exhibition at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art. The artist's still-life oil paintings push the conventions of the medium. She will discuss her approach with Mark Wethli, chair of the art department, next Wednesday.
NPR’s ‘From the Top’ to record in Studzinski Hall
The sounds of Studzinski will hit the airwaves next week when National Public Radio's "From the Top" records a new installment of their program featuring Allen Wong Yu '14 on piano.
Students gain ‘Insight’ into curating
Art history students take to curatorial work with "Insight Out" at the BCMA
When James Bowdoin III donated his private art collection to the College in 1811, he started a tradition that lives on today.
Sculpture classes transform everyday materials into art
According to Sculpture I and II students, Lecturer of Art John Bisbee oft-repeated mantra this semester has been: "Let the material tell you what it wants to do." Sculpture I and II students will exhibit their work tonight at Fort Andross.
Art Smarts: Arai will present work to campus next week
Renowned printmaker and public artist Tomie Arai will arrive on campus on Monday to kick off a week of print media collaborations.
Chinese bronzes make debut at BCMA
The latest exhibition at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art will transport its visitors back three millenia and more than six thousand miles away. "Along the Yangzi River: Regional Culture of the Bronze Age from Hunan," showcases a collection of bronze vessels and musical instruments produced between 300 B.C.E. and 221 B.C.E.
Maine event: Hopper’s lighthouses illuminate museum
The Bowdoin College Museum of Art's exhibition, "Edward Hopper's Maine," is one of its most successful to date. Andrew W. Mellon Curator Fellow Diana Tuite co-curated the exhibition with Director Kevin Salatino. Tuite remarked that in the exhibit's first month alone, "approximately 15,000 people have visited the show, whereas annual attendance is usually around 25,000."