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Division II is the core of a student’s education at Hampshire College. It consists of an area of concentration pursued through courses and other learning activities, as well as the Multiple Cultural Perspectives requirement, additional studies outside the area of concentration as appropriate, and the Community Engagement and Learning (CEL-2) requirement. The Division II final meeting, at which the concentration is passed, completes the process.
The concentration is an area of learning that students pursue in depth according to their individual interests and needs. Each student designs and carries out a concentration with the guidance and supervision of a committee of faculty selected by the student for this purpose. Two Hampshire College faculty must be members of the committee, one of whom serves as chair. A Five College faculty member or an individual from the surrounding community may occasionally serve as a third member.
Within the limits of the resources of the College, the Five Colleges, and the ability of the student and the student’s committee to locate resources for the student, there is great latitude in the design of a concentration. It is essential, however, that a concentration proceed on the basis of a plan, that it be a coherent body of studies, and that it build from work at foundational levels to advanced work. Division II comprises four semesters of work (usually the second and third year of study), with the portfolio of work submitted to the committee at the conclusion of Division II representing the equivalent of four semesters’ worth of work in the concentration in Division II. The Division II contract must be formally filed at the latest by the deadline at the beginning of the fourth semester, but may be filed as soon as the student has passed Division I after the second semester.
In the concentration, the student seeks to achieve a grasp of particular knowledge and techniques, the broader concepts that lie behind them, and critical and analytical skills appropriate to the relevant disciplines. A concentration may range from a plan of study similar to that of a traditional college major to a highly individualized program of study that encompasses several disciplines or areas of conceptual thought and understanding. It may include a number of kinds of learning activities: independent studies and projects, courses, reading programs, internships, and other forms of field study away from the campus.
The concentration is not the whole of a student’s work in Division II; additional studies outside the area of concentration are also an important part. Along with the concentration, the student is expected to pursue academic interests in areas unrelated to the concentration, much as a student at a traditional college would engage interests outside the major. Because these additional studies need not meet the criteria for a concentration (coherence and building), this feature gives the Division II student an added measure of flexibility and freedom in designing a course of study.
When students have completed sufficient studies in the area of concentration to pass Division II (usually at the end of the third year, or sixth semester), they submit a retrospective and a portfolio of their work to their committee. If the committee agrees that a student is ready to pass, they hold a final meeting. When a student has passed Division II, the committee records a pass, and files a written evaluation on TheHub that becomes part of the student’s academic record.