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Physics

Hampshire students do not simply learn the principles of physics on the page. 

They apply concepts through extensive lab work, original research, functional design, and real world experience beginning in the first semester of college.

Hampshire's academic structure allows students to incorporate physics into a variety of concentrations (music, education, or architecture, for example) and to pair a more standard physics curriculum with courses in areas like assistive technology or studio arts.


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Associated Faculty

Hampshire College Professor Herbert Bernstein
Professor of Physics
Associate Professor of Physics

Student Project Titles


Sample First-Year Course

How Things Work

This course introduces students to college physics, projects, projects, and science through study of ordinary technological objects. Principles flow from everyday applications in mechanics, electricity and magnetism, and electronics and optics; eventually we may even make our own simple "paper clip" motors that run for hours on a single D battery. The mathematics level is algebra to precalculus. We also steadily build an individualized project, which may have been previously started in some other learning activity. This covers the five elements of a complete natural science experience including quantitative and verbal skills, the methods of scientific inquiry, and the importance of social context, all as applied to the topic of your own choice.


Sample Courses at Hampshire


Through the Consortium


Facilities and Resources

Institute for Science and Interdisciplinary Studies
The Institute for Science and Interdisciplinary Studies was founded in 1992 to analyze and incorporate the influences of history, politics, economics, and culture into the study of science and technology. ISIS works to reconnect scientists with communities so that research is developed collaboratively to address such complex and pressing problems as environmental degradation, economic crises in agriculture and industry, providing effective health care, and toxic and nuclear waste disposal. With programs combining technical assistance, coalition building, education, and original research and writing on the foundations of knowledge, ISIS is developing a new way of doing science that is open, self-reflexive, democratic, and socially responsible. More information is available at isis.hampshire.edu.

Quantum Physics Project
ISIS's Quantum Physics Project, funded by the National Science Foundation, coordinated the research group that produced a most direct disproof of local realism in quantum physics, the Greenberger/Horne/Zeilinger (GHZ) Theorem. In addition to studying entangled states and teleportation, the project incorporates research on "Quantum Computers" by Hampshire professors Lee Spector and Herb Bernstein. Bernstein is also the founding co-organizer, with professor Don Spector (no relation) of the Anacapa Society, housed at Amherst College, a national organization to support, promote, and develop first-rate theoretical physics research in undergraduate colleges.

Five College Astronomy Department
The Five College Astronomy Department links the teaching and research programs on each of the campuses, offering a richer environment for doing astronomy 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.

Some ten percent of the professional women astronomers in the U.S. did their undergraduate work in the Five College Astronomy program.

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With The Office of the Dean of Faculty
Snail Mail
Office of the Dean of Faculty
Hampshire College
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002
Phone + Email
413.559.5378
Fax: 413.559.6081
dof@hampshire.edu