Environmental Studies and Sustainability

Students interested in topics around the environment and sustainability often develop their own ways of combining the sciences, social sciences, and humanities to study and work on these topics.

Hampshire owns 800 acres of land that includes woodland, pastures, fields, and streams. This serves as a living laboratory where students can study and experiment.

Through Hampshire's unique academic model, research and study take place everywhere from the classroom and laboratory to forests and wetlands, and students develop a truly interdisciplinary, project-based course of studies that allows them to tackle, with the help of faculty and other students, complex, real-world issues.

Student Project Titles

  • Natural Building
  • Learning for Our Future: Moving Towards a Sustainable Worldview
  • Tropical Reforestation
  • Wetland Biogeochemistry and Climate Change
  • Ecology and Management of Three Caribbean Fisheries
  • Enviro-Education at a School in the Woods: an Ethnographic Journey
  • Where the River Runs Dry: An Analysis of the Ecological and Socioeconomic Impacts of Large Dams on the Indus Delta

Sample First-Year Course

Sustainable Living

In this course our conversation will take the form of critical inquiry into current popular notions of sustainable fuel, fiber, food, and shelter. Can biomass fuel replace fossil fuel and with what consequences? Will local farms supplant mega-foodmarts? Can we find ways to locally integrate our life support systems, balancing human needs and the services provided by the ecosystems we occupy? Through lectures, readings, class discussions, debates, and projects we will critically examine innovative "green" technologies, using our own locale as a classroom, and gaining observational and analytical skills in the process.

Sample Courses at Hampshire

  • Agriculture, Ecology, and Society
  • Agriculture, Food, and Human Health
  • Beyond Sprawl and Crawl: Developing Policies to Tame Car Dependence
  • Biomass Energy
  • Culture, Religion, and Environmentalism
  • Earth Resources
  • Ecology
  • Ecology of New England Old-Growth Forests
  • Elements of Sustainability
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Ethics
  • Environmental Justice in the Age of Climate Change
  • Environmental Policy in a Time of Globalization
  • Pollution and Our Environment
  • Stream Ecology
  • Sustainable Agriculture Seminar
  • Sustainable Living
  • Sustainable Technology
  • Sustainable Water Resources
  • This Land is Your Land: Land and Property in America
  • The Unknown Microbial Majority

Through the Consortium

  • Environmental Science (MHC)
  • Field Methods in Ecology (UMass)
  • Fundamentals of the Environment (UMass)
  • Intro to Environmental Biology (UMass)
  • Soil Chemistry (UMass)

Facilities and Resources

Marine Sciences
Through the Five College Coastal and Marine Sciences program, students can use the Hampshire bioshelter for research in aquaculture and marine ecology. In addition, the program sponsors student seminars and internships at or with the support of the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole. Recently, the program has also sponsored training trips on oceanographic vessels, and field courses in the Caribbean and Central America.

Canopy Walkway
Hampshire College associate professor of ecology and entomology Brian Schultz constructed a canopy walkway in the woods surrounding campus. Students can climb to tree-top level to better observe and study the plants and wildlife native to the region.

Farm Center
Students interested in agriculture work on, and study, many aspects of organic farming at the several-hundred-acre Hampshire College Farm Center and through the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project based at the Farm Center.

GIS (Geographic Information Systems)
Hampshire maintains a complete GIS (Geographic Information Systems) computer lab with the latest software from ESRI installed on high performance computers. Using state-of-the-art GPS units and an extensive library of recent and historical aerial photos and maps, students are building a growing digital database of Hampshire's natural resources, including maps of trails, soils, wetlands, and wildlife sightings.