During their first two semesters of enrollment, first-year students must complete satisfactorily at least seven faculty-evaluated courses, two of which must be Division I seminars, and a Campus-Engaged Learning Activity (CEL-1, described below).
Students take two Div I seminars, innovative courses taught by teams of faculty in different fields, all focused on a single question of contemporary relevance. Each seminar embeds different disciplinary approaches, enabling students’ learning about a wide range of skills and approaches to the topic. Staff educators on the teaching teams convene workshops that orient students to Hampshire’s academic program and available resources, and peer mentors support students’ learning inside and outside of the classroom. Div I seminars are sized in order to shift between small and larger groups to enable flexibility in facilitating cohort-based experiences of learning in community with others.
Since exposure to curricular areas including the sciences, culture and human experience, the arts and design, and race and power are built into the transdisciplinary approaches of the Div I seminars, there are no additional distribution requirements in the first year. Students in their first year choose at least five additional courses based on their own interests, for a required total of at least seven courses. Elective courses may include Five College Courses (though this is not recommended in the first semester); students must receive a grade of C or better in a Five College course.
To complete Div I, in addition to the seven courses, students must complete campus-engaged learning activities (CEL-1) totaling a minimum of 40 hours, approximately equal to course contact hours. Of these, 20 hours will involve participation in campus educational events focused on diversity, inclusion, equity and access, in order to expand intercultural competencies; and 20 hours will consist of campus activities/projects of the student’s choice that meet the goals of the requirement to work collaboratively in community and meet a community need. The student will document the fulfillment of the CEL-1 and include a reflection on their CEL-1 experience in the Division I retrospective essay.
Students are strongly encouraged to incorporate language study into their academic program. Because languages are best learned when studied continuously, students electing to study another language are strongly encouraged to enroll in language courses in the first year. Language study is also good preparation for study abroad in Division II or III.