The natural sciences form a set of theories, methods, and data for understanding the world in which we live. Science is not just information to learn; it is a process and way of thinking. Hampshire's School of Natural Science engages students deeply in interdisciplinary problem solving.
Astronomy students at Hampshire take advantage of courses on campus and throughout the Five College consortium through the Five College Astronomy Department. The interlinking of Five College resources allows for a richer environment for doing astronomy research than would be possible if each operated independently.
Moreover, by combining the traditional emphasis on small classes and individual attention that is found at small liberal arts colleges with the research opportunities and infrastructure of a large university, students can find a mix of fine teaching and rich opportunities for independent research.
Aliens: Close Encounters of a Multidisciplinary Kind
This course can be summed up as everything you wanted to know about aliens but were afraid to ask (a scientist). The course will explore the topic of extraterrestrial intelligence from the perspective of several different fields. We will look at the history of UFO sighting claims and analyze the reliability of eyewitness testimonies, explore psychological and sociological reasons behind claims of alien abductions, and analyze the current state of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) from the perspective of astronomy and planetary research. We will also examine how film and television have shaped our view of aliens in popular culture. We will conclude the course by looking at religions that have been inspired by UFOs and extraterrestrials.
Five College Astronomy Department
The Five College Astronomy Department has several major research programs, including: the Five College Radio Astronomy Observatory, which operates a 14-m radio telescope near the Quabbin reservoir; the 2-Micron All Sky Survey, which has mapped the sky at infrared wavelengths; and the Large Millimeter Telescope, recently constructed in Mexico. Faculty supervise research programs using supercomputers, satellite observatories, and major telescopes around the world. The Five College Astronomy Club holds star parties, uses the wide variety of optical telescopes available in the valley, and offers workshops. In addition, the Amherst Area Amateur Astronomy Association is a very active local astronomy club with many public activities.