As Faulkner wrote, "The past isn't dead. It isn't even past."
Students of history might focus on Europe, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, the United States, Africa, or any part of the world; they might investigate the ancient world, the twentieth century, the Renaissance, or any time in between. Regardless of geographic or chronological focus, students at Hampshire connect their findings about the past to the issues and conflicts of the present day.
History is taught not as a series of static events, but as a method of inquiry, encouraging students to develop critical analytic and writing skills and to consider how we create "history." Faculty expect students to ask not only "What happened?" but also, "How do we know what happened and what don't we know?" Students are encouraged to conduct primary research and to pose and answer their own questions.
Making Sense of the Past
Although many of us have learned history as a conglomeration of facts, dates, and key figures, for professional historians it is a way of knowing, a method for developing an understanding about the relationships of peoples and events in the past. In this course, we engage in studying what is intrinsic to historical thinking and how it might be taught. We do so by engaging in creating historical knowledge using local primary documents and artifacts and by reading cognitive psychology literature on the mental processes historians use. Students complete a local history project, reflect on the thinking involved and on the ways in which such a project could be used in schools.
Five College Programs
A number of programs that encourage interdisciplinary approaches to the study of history, politics, and culture are offered through the Five College consortium. Through cross-registration and shared faculty, the five colleges offer programs in East Asian Studies, Peace and World Security Studies, Crossroads in the Study of the Americas, African Studies, International Relations, Women's Studies, Latin American Studies, and Asian/Pacific/American Studies.
Center for the Book
The Center for the Book examines the changing media of knowledge and its effect on scholarship by offering courses, seminars, lectures, and internships to study how our encounter with the word, from orality and print to digital media, has revolutionized our concept of knowledge and history.