Sarah Partan

Associate Professor of Animal Behavior
Hampshire College Professor Sarah Partan
Contact Sarah

Mail Code CS
Sarah Partan
Adele Simmons Hall 131
413.559.5559

On sabbatical Fall 2021.


Sarah Partan, associate professor of animal behavior, received her Ph.D. in animal behavior from the University of California, Davis, and her B.A. in biopsychology from Wesleyan University.

Her research interests are in the areas of animal social behavior and communication. She is particularly interested in multisensory signaling: how and why animals (including humans) combine signals from multiple sensory channels during communication.

She has studied these and related questions in observational studies of wild African elephants; rhesus macaques; squirrels and lizards; and in controlled laboratory studies of birds and dolphins.

Partan is currently creating mechanized animals that simulate animal displays to use in field playback experiments that combine the rigor of laboratory experiments with the natural setting of the field environment.

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Recent and Upcoming Courses

  • In this course we will study research methods for observing, coding, and analyzing animal behavior. We will practice behavior sampling and recording techniques both with domestic animals at the farm and with wild animals in the campus woods. Behaviors observed will include social behavior, foraging, and communication behavior. Students will carry out independent team projects on a species at the Hampshire Farm or woods, and will be expected to consult the primary scientific literature to learn about their species and topics. We will examine how to summarize, analyze, and present data. Students will work with spreadsheets and make graphs to present their data as well calculate inter-observer reliability scores. Papers and presentations will be due for each project. Key words: animal behavior, biology, methods

  • Full Title: Environments and Change: Addressing Climate Change in a Changing Social, Political, and Environmental World Main Question: What are the ongoing and growing concerns associated with climate change and how can we take meaningful, positive action to address them? Course Description: The challenge of creating a just and sustainable future in the face of climate change is arguably the greatest challenge yet to face humankind. Why haven't we as individuals or governments or societies begun to act as if our very lives and cultures are threatened by climate change? Countries across the world were able to enact rapid and massive behavioral change when faced with COVID19, but have failed to do so when faced with climate change. What are the implications of environmental and climate change in relationship to privilege, accessibility, and race? How does one live a sustainable life in an ever-changing world? Join us to brainstorm potential solutions to current local and global environmental and related social problems. This seminar will be co-taught by an interdisciplinary team of faculty and staff and will include guest lectures from experts across a breadth of areas related to climate change, environmental justice, and sustainability. The course will be divided into modules focused on specific problems and potential solutions, such as why humans are so resistant to changing our habits, and how massive societal change can be motivated; how we can learn to communicate around hard topics and differing beliefs; how ecopoetics and ecocriticism can engage not only climate justice but racial justice as well; how applied design can help us create accessible tools; and how other animals are responding to climate change and biodiversity loss. Modes of working will include brainstorming, hands-on design and fabrication work (#making), reading, researching, communication, dialogue, and restorative practices. Approaches: #sustainabledesign #environmentaljustice #creativewriting #biodiversityconservation