Center for Citizenship & Just Democracy
At The Frederick Gunn School, we strive to cultivate in our students coherent moral commitments to the common good. According to our founder Frederick Gunn, the moral formation of young people is at the heart of every educator’s vocation. Given that we are a boarding school, we have unique opportunities to work with students throughout the day and into the evening. The Center for Citizenship and Just Democracy seeks to integrate a shared vision for ethical development across the academic, residential life, and co-curricular spheres of our school. Current scholarship on civic engagement has provided the foundation for our new Citizenship Curriculum to build active, engaged citizens for our country and the world. In 2021, the creation of a new space on campus will host the center and foster creative social entrepreneurship. The new space will be:
Modeled on state-of-the-art co-working spaces in urban centers, such as Workbar in Boston and NeuHouse in New York
A hub for local community leaders to meet with students about their projects
A newsroom, where students will learn news literacy and digital citizenship skills
A $100,000 matching grant from the Edward E. Ford Foundation has provided for expanded levels of professional development for faculty around the topics of ethics, leadership, and civic engagement, and will continue to create opportunities for faculty to become involved in how character education happens on campus.
About the Director
A Massachusetts native, Bart McMann holds a bachelor’s degree in government and legal studies from Bowdoin College and a master’s in social sciences from Wesleyan University. In June 2019, he participated in the Summer Institute of Civic Studies at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University to learn more about the current scholarship on civic engagement. A former chair of the History Department at The Frederick Gunn School, he currently serves as Director of the Center for Citizenship and Just Democracy and is a Connecticut State Coordinator for Braver Angels.
The Gray Party
This student-led, bipartisan organization was established by Anthony Cochrane ’18, a Republican, and Mark Choi ’18, a Democrat, with the goal of increasing civic engagement and civil political discourse. Since then, Frederick Gunn School students have committed to carrying on the work they started, by organizing voter registration drives, hosting and moderating state and local political forums, and sharing their views in ways that encourage respectful political dialogue and minimize divisiveness.
Character development, and moral character specifically, is the chief purpose of our school. If everything else fell away, that’s what we want to be measured by. But moral character in Mr. Gunn’s mind was not an end in itself. The purpose of developing character was to go out and put it to use in the world, whether that was in the immediate world around you, or more broadly. He wanted his alumni to be what we call ‘engaged citizens’ and this is what he modeled himself, even before he created the school.
Peter Becker, head of School