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CBD Concentration Guidelines

The Culture, Brain, and Development Program (CBD) encourages students to develop intellectually adventurous concentrations that engage the intersections of the social/cultural, cognitive, and biological sciences. There are many different ways to engage with the CBD Program: by making CBD the core of your concentration, or by including CBD perspectives on another topic or focus. A CBD approach can also be combined with studies in other programs, from premed to music to Childhood, Youth, and Learning (CYL). This information is intended to help you think about the best way for you to bring CBD into your studies.

How can I build a CBD Concentration?

Begin the process of building your concentration by talking over your ideas and goals with a CBD faculty member. If you choose to make CBD a focus of your concentration then at least one member of your Division II committee should be a CBD faculty member. While the specific contents of your Division II are up to you and your committee, keep in mind that Division II portfolios typically include 12 to 16 evaluated learning activities. These can include internships, independent studies, and research experiences as well as courses.

If you are interested in making a study of the intersections of culture, brain, and development the primary focus of your Division II - whether through consideration of a particular topic, such as gender or art or morality, or more broadly - you should aim to take courses that engage seriously with each of the three areas of culture, brain, and development (intellectual breadth), build knowledge and skills in a more concentrated area (core studies), and allow you to integrate the different ideas and disciplinary perspectives.

Intellectual Breadth: To understand and think about how culture, brain, and development interact, it is important to become familiar with the methodologies, literatures, and ideas of a variety of disciplines. While you should not try to take courses in all of the fields listed below (!), you should aim to take at least 1 or 2 in each of the three areas, and at least 4 of these should be at the 200 level or above. You should also include courses that represent empirical as well as qualitative/theoretical perspectives. While we list a number of disciplines and subdisciplines here, it is best to consult with faculty members of individual courses to determine the extent to which a course will directly address culture, brain, and/or development.   

  • Culture: There are a wide variety of academic disciplines and courses that focus on the systems of knowledge, beliefs, values, and practices that characterize human culture(s). Courses that address the 'culture' perspective can be found in the social and cultural sciences, the humanities, and the arts. These can include courses in areas such as anthropology; children's social development; childhood studies; cultural psychology; social psychology/personality theory; sociology; economics; the cultural or social foundations of education; and ethnomusicology.
  • Brain/mind: The brain/mind is studied at many different levels, ranging from the chemistry of neural signaling to the behavior of whole organisms. A number of different methodologies and theoretical frameworks are used to understand the brain/mind at these different levels. Courses that address the 'brain/mind' perspective can be found in the biological and cognitive sciences, and can include cognitive neuroscience; neurophysiology; genetics; molecular/cellular biology; evolutionary biology; chemistry/biochemistry; psychology; animal behavior; health science; statistics/experimental design; philosophy of mind or language; and computer science/artificial intelligence.
  • Development: This can refer to individual development or to development of the species over evolutionary time, but no one develops in isolation! Development is a dynamic process that involves understanding how components within a dynamic developmental system interact. Courses that address development can be found in the biological, cognitive, and social sciences. These could include children's social and/or cognitive development; childhood studies; developmental psychology; child clinical psychology; developmental neuroscience; animal cognition/behavior; education; evolutionary biology; epistemology; and social psychology.   

Core Studies: In any Division II concentration it is important to develop the intellectual tools to address a coherent set of questions that define the core of your concentration. Which particular tools are important for you depends on the kinds of questions you are asking in Div II, and what you want to do next, in Div III and beyond. It can be difficult to figure out which intellectual tools you will want and need, so this is when talking with faculty can be very useful. Faculty members are happy to talk through different ideas and help you figure out how best to meet your goals. Here are some questions to consider when thinking about how you want to focus your concentration:

  • Are you interested in a specific question, topic, or area of inquiry?
  • Is there a Div III project you have in mind that will require certain skills, knowledge of particular literatures, theories, or methodologies?
  • Are you thinking of going to graduate school in a particular field, and if so, what are the typical requirements for getting into those graduate programs?

With your answers to these questions in mind, you can begin to identify the intellectual tools that are of central importance to your Div II. Your core studies might focus on a discipline, such as cognitive neuroscience or anthropology, or they might focus on interdisciplinary issues or topics, such as gender/sex, morality, or music. Aim to have at least 5 of the learning activities in your Div II concentration devoted to your core studies.

Integration: Many of the courses taught at Hampshire, particularly CBD courses, aim to pull together and integrate ideas, methodologies, and theories from the different perspectives of culture, brain, and development.  Learning how to think across disciplines, however, is challenging and cannot always be specifically addressed in every course. In addition to CBD tutorials, the CBD Program offers integration seminars at the 200 and 300 levels. These are focused on developing the skills and theoretical tools to do interdisciplinary work and integrate the perspectives of culture, brain, and development. A student focusing on CBD should aim to participate in a 100 or 200 level integration seminar and a 300 level concentrator's seminar.  

The above guidelines are intended to help you build a CBD concentration that seriously engages the three broad areas of culture, brain, and development and that prepares you for Division III and for graduate school. They support a very wide range of plans of study in Division II and allow you to pursue your own interests.

Can I bring CBD into my Division II without making it my concentration?

Sure! Perhaps you want to focus on a specific topic or issue in Division II, but you don't see yourself making an integration of culture, brain, and development your primary focus. You may be interested in bringing in a variety of perspectives on that topic, or seeing how CBD can help you ask or answer new questions. The CBD Program connects to a wide range of topics such as sex/gender, emotions, trauma, mental illness, happiness, childhood, and music (just to name a few). You can take just a few classes that are related to your Div II and introduce new perspectives on the topic. You can also take one of the 100 or 200-level integration seminars.

The CBD Program welcomes involvement from all students, not just students who see their central focus as one involving the integration of culture, brain, and development.

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