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The Hampshire Way

We’re launching a bold new curriculum and student experience, fundamentally reshaping a liberal arts education to match the needs of today’s students and the world.

Graduates encounter opportunities and problems that don’t fit neatly into fixed majors or departments — their education shouldn’t either. Employers overwhelmingly agree that broad learning and skills that cut across disciplines are the best preparation for long-term career success.

Our goal? To radically transform how students learn. Hampshire’s model educates students for the challenges of jobs, graduate schools, entrepreneurship, and life.

By empowering our students to pursue questions they’re most passionate about, many develop a love of learning that is absent from most education in this country. I believe we are designing the future of undergraduate education, a future that students want now and will only be able to get here.
Ed Wingenbach, president

At Hampshire, students will:

  • Actively grapple with pressing questions and issues starting in their first semester.
  • Explore and innovate freely across multiple methods and practices and all fields of knowledge: the arts, sciences, technology, social/political inquiry, and humanities.
  • Develop lifelong skills central to a liberal arts education: creative problem-solving, applied critical thinking, entrepreneurialism, and agility for dealing with complexity and uncertainty.
  • Integrate learning in and out of the classroom through courses, workshops, independent study, field study, community learning, study abroad, internships, co-curricular activities, and more.

Self-Designed Curriculum

No schools or departments. No majors.

Areas of study at Hampshire are as broad as the imagination. A student’s job when they get here isn’t to declare a major, it’s to discover their mission.

Students choose faculty advisors who support them in designing a custom curriculum in pursuit of big questions, challenges, or issues of the student’s interest. Graduates emerge from Hampshire prepared to engage with complex contemporary issues including the skills to transition to multiple careers.

Divisional Structure

No freshman, sophomores, juniors, or seniors.

Students advance through a divisional structure rather than academic ranks. Each of three divisions requires a portfolio review, including narrative feedback from all courses, final papers or projects, community-engaged learning, other meaningful work, and a retrospective. Hampshire careers are capped off by a year-long thesis-like Div III project of the student’s own design.

Narrative Evaluations

No grades.

Hampshire does not believe grades are an accurate or effective measurement of capacity, competency, or progress. Instead, students are evaluated through robust narrative feedback and evaluations provided by peers and faculty members.

Key Themes and Learning Collaboratives

Relevant, global challenges. Resources aligned to a key theme.

The world has big problems. Today’s students want to go to college to do something about it. Hampshire is taking up these big problems and figuring out how to address them.

Traditional models of departments and schools can’t address these challenges effectively. So we’ve developed Learning Collaboratives, transdisciplinary structures designed to address timely topics.

And we will not remain static. Themes will evolve as needs and interests shift, and new problems and questions emerge.

Learning Collaboratives are comprised of faculty, staff, and students who bring their own perspectives and expertise to a shared key theme, mixing ideas, skills, and passions among a community of others.

The following four themes are being pursued now:

  1. Environments & Change: How do we repair our environment and reverse climate change? How do we care for each other and our planet? How do we define a sense of home and embody our place in the world? How do we adapt? How do we define and measure environmental change?
  2. In/Justice: How do we disrupt and dismantle white supremacy? How do justice and injustice shape our systems of power? Which bodies are valued? How do people in marginalized communities strategize to make their grievances and their work visible, their voices heard?
  3. Media & Technology: How do technologies (tools, books, computers, photographs, gene-editing techniques, etc.) shape the world and mediate our relationships to it? In what ways are media and technology agents of positive change, and how do we address the ethical, political, social, and economic problems they pose?
  4. Time & Narrative: Whose histories get told, whose memories matter? How do we author time, mark time, and measure space and time? How does "deep time" affect how we think about human evolution, history, knowledge, and the future? What lies ahead, and how do we plan for and reimagine a different world?

Community Engaged Learning

Experiential, hands-on learning.

A requirement for Div I and II, Community Engaged Learning experiences (CELs) encourage students to deepen their engagement on campus and in the real world. Students design opportunities to build community and seek innovative ways to address critical needs as defined by groups and organizations in and outside the College. CELs reveal to  students new ways of thinking about both their future careers and the roles they can play as citizens in ameliorating social problems such as environmental degradation, poverty, illiteracy, and disengaged youth.

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Hampshire College
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002