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.
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.
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.
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.
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.