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Chapter 1: The Academic Program

•The Logo (1996)
•EPEC (1997)
•Multiple Cultural Perspectives Requirement (2000)
•New First Year Plan (2001)
•First Year Plan in Effect (2003)
•The Re-Radicalization of Hampshire College (2004)



The Logo: A Student Guide to Professors and Classes at Hampshire College, 1996

Introduction

What The LOGO Is
 
What you have here is an experiment. We sent out surveys last semester to as many students as we could reach in an attempt to get an accurate picture of Hampshire professors and their courses. Then we edited together all the responses, crunched the numbers, formatted the whole lot and this is the result. The descriptions in this publication are not intended to be taken as absolute judgments. Rather, they are a compilation of opinions and ideas expressed by students who had first hand experience with each class.
 
This is not a new idea. Lots of colleges do this type of self-evaluation - Hampshire's academic committees and administration have been occasionally handing out surveys since day one. The difference is this: now the students are in charge. This is of course the way it should be at Hampshire, an institution dedicated to the idea that students know what is best for themselves, that they are capable of making the important decisions about their educations. To quote the 95-96 course guide:
 
In 1970 students first came to Hampshire College to take part in an extraordinary new venture in liberal arts education. It was based on a single, compelling belief that the most meaningful and lasting education is shaped by a student's own interests. According to this view, education is not something imposed upon a student, but a process that each student initiates and actively pursues.

Unfortunately, one lone student in search of her education can only accomplish so much. Obviously, you can't do anything unless you have information. And since there are certain things we all wish we knew more about, it seems appropriate that we students should pool our resources to sort out the information...
 
Why The LOGO Is
 
So lack of information is the first reason for The LOGO. The second has to do with improving the community by way of each individual reevaluating their goals. We hope that by the mere act of filling out each survey, students will have another chance to evaluate their own educational goals and be more inclined to discuss what it means to get an education at Hampshire. This discussion is what makes Hampshire thrive and is why it exists. We are all in our individual worlds, obsessed with our individual projects - the only reason we should be near each other is so we can talk about what makes our individual experiences good or bad - what works and what doesn't. For me, self-reflection, insight and dialogue are the best ways to improve my life. I believe these things are also necessary for the improvement of an institution or community's life.

Some of us had another serious agenda underlying this publication. We understand that it is the student's responsibility to make Hampshire live up to its idea of educational experimentation. In its first five years, Hampshire was truly an alternative to traditional colleges. Since then, its been creaking its way toward the mainstream. Cases in point: 2-course options, policies on the minimum amount of time in each division, the hiring of new faculty who are never acculturated to Hampshire, no pets, etc. We decided the best way to get Hampshire back on track is by initiating experiments such as this one and by demanding and doing a lot more evaluation of Hampshire's mission, faculty, administration, students, etc...
 
Another reason we wanted to put this together is because it is a way to show the faculty how much we want from our educations. They will be reminded of the fact that we know how important they are to our educations at Hampshire. And they will be reminded of the fact that if they suck, we won't stand for it.
 
Here's some advice on how to make use of the information we've presented to you here: Don't use The LOGO to find the good courses (since many don't repeat anyway), use it to find out which professors you want to work with. If their teaching style isn't the best way for you to learn, suggest alternate methods from day one. Initiate the dialogue. Students are the only ones who can do it and the only ones to blame if things aren't good enough... (p.5-6)

As I am finishing this editorial and trying to get The LOGO to the printer, the first annual student-led national conference on alternative higher education was finishing up in ASH. A group of Hampshire students got together with students and alums from other alternative colleges to talk about how our institutions are doing and how we can collaborate to make them more successful. We discussed how alternative methods of education have prepared us so well for the world we live in, better than any traditional college ever could. But without constant experimentation and self-evaluation, better communication and outreach and better use of resources, these institutions and programs will be crushed under the weight of their own potential - many of them, like Hampshire, are straining under the weight. This generation of students is the only one that can keep them standing.
 
As I said before, The LOGO is an experiment. The success of the experiment will be based on two things: Is the publication accurate? and Does the community want it? We'll know when we hear from you.

We decided it was important to tell about some of the reasons why we wanted to make this publication and some of the problems we encountered during the process. I also took this opportunity to spout off on how I feel about a Hampshire education - these are my views and not necessarily those of the group.
 
--Rebecca Saunders, F95


 
The Logo: A Student Guide to Professors and Classes at Hampshire College, 1997

SS350        Fall '96
STATE AND SOCIETY IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
Eqbal Ahmad

Format: Division III Seminar
Approximate Class Size: 4 Surveys returned: 3
Preparation Time (hrs/wk): Avg: 3.5; Range 3-4.5

Overall Satisfaction with...
Class?                    5.0
Instructor?             5.0
Content?                5.0

Approximate Level of Agreement
Recommend?                5.0
Course modifiable?            5.0
Course Challenging?            5.0
Comfortable participating?         4.7
Assignments clear?            4.7
Instructor motivating?            5.0
Comments helpful?            5.0
Instructor organized?            4.3
Lect./Disc. focussed?            4.3
Stimulating?                5.0
Enthusiastic instructor?        5.0
Objectives clear?            5.0

Assignments: Reading: 100 pages/week
Writing: one eight-ten page book critique, one fifteen-twenty page research paper

Instructor's teaching style:
As a 5-college student, I can't emphasize how much I have enjoyed this course. The professor is one of the best I have ever had. Not only is he intellectually brilliant, he's very down-to-earth and approachable.
Eqbal is extremely approachable and also sensitive to students' needs. He stimulates excellent discussion, and is always pushing us to express our opinions, whether or not he agrees. He does put very much on the top, which was intimidating at first, but now seems clear to me to be his request for our input.

Best things about the course: Eqbal's fabulous stories. The professor.
Worst things about the course: Get sleepy at 10 pm at night. Uncomfortable chairs. Too free/laidback. No syllabus/reading list
Additional comments: Highly recommend any course with Professor Ahmad. Wonderful course.
One of the best courses I've taken, with perhaps the best professor I've studied with. (p.125)


 
EPEC: The Experimental Program in Education and Community

 
Spring 1997 EPEC Course Guide & Catalog: The Experimental Program in Education and Community.

We invite staff, faculty, alumni, and students of Hampshire as well as friends from outside the College to participate in collaborative, cross-generational learning.
 
EPEC courses are small, flexible courses approved by the Experimental Program In Education and Community and Hampshire College as co-curricular courses. These courses are listed in the Hampshire College Academic History and may be included in a Hampshire student's portfolio, but will not be recommended for transfer credit. The courses do not fall under the jurisdiction of any of Hampshire's four schools and do not need faculty supervision. These courses however, do not eschew faculty contact but rather encourage faculty participation as learners and resources. Some EPEC courses are exploratory, whereas others are oriented around a particular project. Often they include field trips, guest participants, and open presentations to Hampshire. Each EPEC course has at least one sponsor. Some sponsors are experts; others are simply participants. Students, staff, faculty, alumni, friends of the college, and all community members including students from the other four colleges are all invited to sponsor and participate In EPEC courses.
 
Some EPEC courses may be cosponsored by one of Hampshire's four schools. These will have additional approval procedures.
 
Some EPEC courses may be formed early in the semester. Hampshire students are the only participants officially listed on enrollment records. Though these courses are accepted as a part of a Hampshire student's portfolio, and may provide for the development of Division I and II projects, they do not count towards half of two-course options. Sponsoring an EPEC course will not satisfy the Dlv. III advanced educational activity requirement unless it is also approved by one of the four schools. In some cases EPEC courses serve as prerequisites for other courses.
 
Community Meals: EPEC believes that education becomes much more meaningful when it can be shared with a community. Weekly Community Meals will provide a forum for formal and informal sharing, as well as an opportunity to bring different parts of the community together. This Spring, these meetings will be held Thursday evenings.
 
Integrated Living & Learning: We hope to gain some housing that can be set aside for the EPEC community. This is a long process and may take some time.
 
Student Contract Facilitators are veterans in the Hampshire system. They help other students to design an education that reflects their personal vision, skills, and needs.
 
Peer Groups will be made of 5-7 students from all divisional levels. They will become familiar with one another's academic work and personal history. They will help each other to explore the possibilities for their education, as well as participate on each other's divisional committees.
 
Some Questions & Answers:
 
What do I (or what does Hampshire) get out of EPEC? Hampshire College believes that traditional courses are one of many important learning environments. EPEC provides a great deal of flexibility to help students include nontraditional learning experiences in their lives and education, complementing rather than replacing traditional forums. For many students, this is exactly why they are at Hampshire. Ordinarily, no student should plan to take more than one EPEC course in a given semester.
 
How can I sign up for an EPEC class? To register for this spring's courses you should contact the sponsor(s) this semester because there might be an optional meeting, and come to the introductory meeting which will be advertised at the beginning of next semester.
 
Is EPEC separate from the rest of the college? No. Each EPEC program is open to the entire Hampshire community.
 
How much time commitment does EPEC require? Each EPEC Program entails a time commitment appropriate to its task and specifically agreed to by each EPEC class or group. For instance, one EPEC course may require only a few hours a week of meeting time, whereas another may entail many hours of preparation, field trips, and class meetings. Each class or peer group decides for itself.
 
When will EPEC classes meet? Most class meeting times will be decided after the participants express interest at the all community EPEC meeting at the beginning of the semester so everyone can be involved. Meeting times and locations will also be listed after the meeting on the EPEC board outside the student store.
 
Do EPEC courses and peer groups have funding available for meals, materials, field trips, or guest speakers? Yes.
 
How can I sponsor an EPEC course? Contact the steering committee for details. Basically, sponsoring a course means writing a course description to be approved by EPEC and Hampshire College. We help you with this.
 
Who runs EPEC? As much as possible, EPEC Is governed and administered by those involved. It is structured so that each class and peer group is self-governable. The few communal decisions are made in community meals. The steering committee, a group of students, handles the administrative details with the assistance of other students who want to help or learn how to run the program. The steering committee, as well as several other students, are also available as a resource for each of the classes and peer groups.
 
How did EPEC start? EPEC is a student-led program, conceived during a 3-week exchange in January 1995 between two alternative colleges, Hampshire and the Johnston Center at the University of Redlands. Its gestation at Hampshire College spurred the formation of several student-led classes in the 1995-1996 school year, as well as the creation of the Alternative Higher Education Network.


 
Multiple Cultural Perspectives Requirement, 2000


TO:                 All faculty, staff, and students
FROM:           Norman S. Holland, Associate Dean of Faculty for Multicultural Education
DATE:           September 5, 2000 
SUBJECT:     Multiple Cultural Perspectives Requirement
 
This past academic year the College committed itself to a broad and serious review of the Third World Expectation. For the last sixteen years the Third World Expectation encouraged students to incorporate study of peoples and cultures of the African, Asian, Latin American, and Caribbean diasporas into their courses and their Division II concentrations. While this academic policy enhanced the institutional culture of the College, the year long review recommended that a new revised policy be implemented. This major undertaking of the Office of Multicultural Education took place in cooperation with the Dean of Faculty Office and the Educational Policy Committee. The process involved a faculty working committee, many meetings and presentations, and several public lectures and workshops. On May 16, 2000, the faculty voted in the revised policy, the Multiple Cultural Perspectives Requirement.
 
Since the Multiple Cultural Perspectives Requirement constitutes a change in degree requirements, the revised policy ONLY affects incoming students (Fall 2000). New transfer students who are arriving with advanced status should consult with Mary Frye, the Advising Office Transfer Coordinator. Students entering prior to Fall 2000 who have not filed their Division II contracts can opt for the new policy. The new policy requires that the critical issues the students address be "an integral part of the set of questions that guide the Division II."
 
Throughout the academic year, the Office of Multicultural Education will host a series of workshops, seminars and lectures to help explain and disseminate the new policy. Since Schools play a central role in initiating and implementing the College curriculum, the Office can also assist each school in a careful evaluation of its curriculum in regard to the Multiple Cultural Perspectives requirement.
 
The new policy reaffirms the College's radical initiative of 1984 towards encompassing diversity throughout the curriculum. The College unequivocally endorses as one of the goals of contemporary liberal education to nurture a broad understanding of the human condition and the nature of knowledge.

 



Multiple Cultural Perspectives: A Division II Requirement
 
Hampshire College is committed to the principle that a liberal arts education should include a serious engagement with multiple cultural perspectives. The Multiple Cultural Perspectives requirement is to be an integral part of the set of questions that guide the Division II at its inception (DII proposal) and completion (DII Portfolio). In consultation with their Division II committee, students will fulfill the requirement through substantial engagement with one or more of the following critical issues: non-Western perspectives; race in the United States; and relations of knowledge and power. At the completion of the concentration, students will present the results of their work in their Division II portfolio, including course work and/or independent research. Students will also describe in their retrospective essay (or elsewhere) the impact those explorations have on their concentration as a whole. This requirement will be described and evaluated as part of the Division II evaluation.
 
Critical Issues:
In satisfying this requirement, students can choose to address one or more of the following critical issues. However, students are encouraged to integrate all three issues into their Division II:

A. Non-Western Perspectives:
Study of non-Western peoples and cultures will help our students to understand better the cultural diversity of the interconnected world at large. An intellectually vigorous engagement with non-Western perspectives expands the way one comprehends the world. To achieve this goal students must incorporate study of non-Western peoples and cultures into their Division II.

B. Race in the United States:
Study of the history, politics and culture of race in the United States and elsewhere will enable our students to understand better the conditions that underlie discrepancies of power that often fall along racial lines. Serious academic study of theories and analyses pertaining to "race" offers a more critical approach to students' education. To achieve this goal students must incorporate study of the roles that race and racism play in American culture and society into their Division II.
 
C. Knowledge and Power:
The influence of discrepancies in power and privilege is hidden from most scholarly discourse, where the canons of academic disciplines are apt to be presented as neutral and universal. Study of how academic knowledge may be shaped by relations of power and difference will help our students think more critically about the processes under which intellectual or artistic perspectives can be either privileged or marginalized. To achieve this goal, students must incorporate study of the relations between power and knowledge, in regard to either A (non-Western perspectives), or B (race), into their Division II.


 
The New First Year Plan


"Changes Underway for First Year Experience," by Eris Johnson-Smith & Jesse Oates. The Forward, Apr. 4, 2001, p. 1,5.

As most of us have noticed by all of the signs around campus and the recent phone calls, there are plans to change the structure of the first year at Hampshire. This will not directly affect any of us here at school right now, but it will change the appeal of our school, to both incoming students and the academic community in general, the focus and direction of first year students, and possibly the process into the following years and Divisions. These are things that we as Hampshire students should be involved with, we have the knowledge to help make this process effective and create a progam that will work for the future.

Last year the trustees charged Hampshire to enter into a long term planning: this included looking at the first year and answering some fundamental questions about that time for students. There is data showing that 45% of students leave after their first year and there is only a 50% rate for graduation in four years. These statistics, including the rate that student drop classes in their first semester, set off alarms strong enough to look at changing the structure of the first year.

There was a working group, headed up by Steve Weisler and Mike Ford, of faculty and students formed to examine the first years experience and do a preliminary examination and a sketch of solutions, and to begin proposals to be sent on to the Educational Policy Council (EPC) ...They have been working for the past few months and on March 13 presented the proposals to the Council. After a question and answer period, the EPC decided that they were not satisfied and could not make a decision based solely on the proposals presented.

The main problems that are being examined are the sentiment of many older students of how frustrating the Division I process was for them. There is a general consensus throughout the student body that the idea of the Div Is is completely against the concept of Hampshire that they had envisioned or expected. Most students were under the impression that they would be able to choose any interest, and with the help of a professor be able to turn it into a project. This idea has proven impossible in many cases. Very few students have admitted to a complete understanding of the Hampshire system before ariving on campus and most agree that they were not able to get the hang of it until a few semesters here. Many first years have fallen through the cracks in the system and became too frustrated to stay with it before realizing the potential the program offers. Many of the questions being examined are in an attempt to gain a clearer student understanding of the program and and easier path to follow through your higher education.

Recently a concerned group of students, made up of Community Council members as well as the student representatives from EPC, organized an All Community Meeting as a forum for feedback from the community. The academic schools cancelled their meetings so there were many faculty there, including a number of members on EPC. All together there were probably around 75 students, faculty and staff who came. The meeting started off with a summarization of events, goals and means that were commonly expressed by the EPC and the working group, the two committees involved up to this point. While goals leaned more toward a need for students to be independent self-motivated learners, the means suggested various ways to avoid alienating first years from the academic community.

After the summary, students, faculty and staff broke into small groups of twenty, for fifteen minutes, to discuss possible issues and solutions that had not been addressed. Some of the major concerns expressed in these meetings were a lack of communication between students and faculty, which in turn led students to feel lost or trapped and fall behind. Many students used their own experiences as examples. Some felt that there wasn't enough transition time for students to adapt to the new environment, and others felt that the new first year program should be solely dedicated to completion of Div Is. Many asked for a clarification of terms in requirements, basically asking for a project to be labeled a project and not a paper. Others felt that the advising program as it is now leaves too much for student initiative and would ask for a program that would be more easily available and would hopefully catch problems before they start.

So, the process continues. Now most of the different interests and voices of the Hampshire community have been heard, and were able to give some advice. The proposal is continuing to be examined and reworked. In the upcoming weeks and months, the EPC is going to answer some of the major questions brought up surrounding the proposals, and try to work out some of the obvious chinks, using all of the opinions and suggestions given in the past meetings. As the EPC continues its process, there is also a new group being formed by Council member Josiah Erikson to help facilitate student involvement with the program. That committee plans to come up with additional proposals to present to EPC before the final decision is made at the end of May...

 



Summary of the New First Year Plan


The Executive Committee of the Faculty has asked that a brief summary of the new first-year plan to be implemented in Fall, 2002 be circulated in advance of the faculty meeting of April 2 [2002]. Below is the description of the new academic program, which appears in the [2002] Hampshire College catalogue. [Passed by Faculty Meeting, Oct. 16, 2001.]
 
The Academic Program
 
Hampshire College students qualify for the Bachelor of Arts degree by completing a full time program composed of three levels or Divisions of study with the aim of accomplishing Hampshire's Learning Goals:
 
--Engage in critical analysis.
--Develop writing, reading, quantitative, and presentation skills.
--Learn to express ideas in a range of modes and media.
--Develop the imagination.
--Contextualize the making of art in a broader theoretical context.
--Develop historical, multicultural, political, social, and cultural perspectives on academic work.
--Engage in self-initiated work for which the student feels ownership.
--Develop the ability to define significant, researchable questions, frame an argument or articulate a hypothesis, and write an analytical (or scientific research) paper.
--Gain exposure to a range of textual styles, primary texts and sources.
--Acquire analytic vocabularies in several disciplines.
 
In Division I--Basic Studies--students pursue foundational studies in the liberal arts by designing a first-year curriculum in which they satisfy a Distribution Requirement and make progress toward Hampshire College's Learning Goals...
 
Division I
 
Division I serves two essential purposes. The Distribution Requirement introduces students to a broad range of subject matter before they choose an area of concentration. Division I also helps students to attain the methodological and critical tools of inquiry necessary for Division II and Division III work including the development of writing skills, methods of quantitative analysis, the capacity for critical inquiry and art making, presentation skills, research skills, and the ability to do self-initiated academic work. The student's advisor will periodically review academic progress during and at the end of each semester of Division I to identify the student's developing areas of strength as well as indications of the need for further study.
 
Students normally complete Division I during their first three semesters of enrollment. The first two semesters of Division I constitute the First-Year Program (see below), followed by a transitional third semester in which first-year work is systematically evaluated and plans for Division II work are begun.
 
The First-Year Program
 
During each of their first two semesters of enrollment, students must satisfactorily complete four evaluated courses (understood to include independent study and other appropriate evaluated educational activities) distributed as follows:
 
In the first semester, the student must satisfactorily complete a First-Year Tutorial, a small 100-level course taught by the student's advisor. By the end of their second semester students must have successfully completed one l00-level course (one of which is the First-Year Tutorial) in each of the five schools of the College (Natural Science; Cognitive Science; Social Science; Humanities, Arts, and Cultural Studies; and Interdisciplinary Arts--the Distribution Requirement). During their first year of enrollment, students must also satisfactorily complete three additional courses drawn from the curriculum offered by any of the schools of Hampshire College or from the Five Colleges (for a total of eight courses in the first year).
 
Students are strongly encouraged to incorporate the study of a second language and of quantitative methods of analysis into their Division I studies. Since second languages are best learned when studied continuously, students electing to study a second language are strongly encouraged to enroll in language courses in the first year.
 
The Third Semester
 
After the second semester of enrollment, students are responsible for preparing a First-Year Portfolio that includes eight first-year course evaluations (see above), representative samples of work, and a retrospective essay that reflects on their studies in the first year At the beginning of the Third Semester, students meet with their advisor to discuss the First-Year Portfolio and to determine an appropriate course of study that supports the development of an initial plan for the Division II work. This plan may also address the need for further study to ensure the satisfactory completion of Division I.
 
Division I is complete when the student satisfies the first-year requirements, submits a complete First-Year Portfolio, and passes a Division I Examination in which the advisor determines that the Portfolio is satisfactory and that the student is ready to move on to Division II work. The advisor then prepares a Division I Evaluation based on the First-Year Portfolio and on the examination that will be placed in the student's academic file... (p.1-3) 
 
The Advisor
Close student-faculty relationships are a central feature of a Hampshire education. Every student is assigned a first-year advisor to assist with the selection of courses and the planning of the student's academic program. The advisor-advisee connection is strongest when student and faculty member work closely together on common academic projects. Therefore, each student will be assigned an advisor who leads a First-Year Tutorial in which the student (along with all the other advisees of that advisor) will be enrolled during the first term of study. Hampshire also involves staff members and advanced students in first-year advising to provide a broader range of models for mentoring and apprenticeship. (p.5-6)


 
First Year Plan in Effect, 2003


"First Year Plan: 'Selling Hampshire'," by Sam Baden. The Climax, Oct. 2003, p. 1,9.

Following a period of review and heated debate amongst both the faculty and the student body, it was decided that the Division I system required a major overhaul. The hypothesis of the 'first year working group,' the advisory body created specifically for dealing with this problem, was that a connection could be found between academic engagement and success at the college. Eventually, the 'first year working group,' which consisted of select faculty members and the Deans of IA, CS, SS, NS, and HACU, and the majority vote of a faculty meeting, decided that the college's Division I system needed to be replaced, and not simply repaired.

The new first year plan, which had its inception in the fall of 2003 [i.e., 2002], is based on a core curriculum of eight classes, all of which should be completed by the student in the beginning of their third semester. The intention of this plan, according to Sue Darlington, the Dean of Admissions [i.e., Advising], is to "change the culture on campus so that students realize the importance of course work." This shift to course-based 'modes of inquiry,' to use a Hampshire phrase, is striking, in both context and intent, when compared to the previous system. Division I was meant to be an entirely self-directed inquiry in which students pursued independent projects and took initiative in creating these projects and taking them to professors.

However, some faculty felt that the old Division I system allowed students to become lax in their studies. According to Steve Weisler, Hampshire's Dean of Academic Development, "something approaching two-thirds of the students were appealing for an exception," to the two-semester Division II rule, so that they could graduate on time even though they had outstanding Division Is in their fifth semester. Given the freedom to create their own academic paths, students were floundering.

According to Dean Weisler, the old Division I system created a credibility problem for Hampshire. No matter how much the independence of the old system was enjoyed by first-year students, "there was a gap between the system on paper and the system in practice." Futhermore, as the new first-year plan was developed, the consensus became that "failure to become academically engaged correlated with the attrition rate."

This attrition rate seriously impacts how Hampshire is sold to prospective students. Karen Parker, Hampshire's Director of Admissions, felt certain that a change needed to take place in order so that Hampshire might be able to attract "the most academically able students in the areas in which the most faculty have the capacity to teach them." It is Parker's belief that "the number one reason" why students who are interested in Hampshire failed to apply "is that they perceived we did not have enough structure for them."

The result of this perceived decline in interest is that Hampshire has had to, according to Director Parker, "trade off the freedom, for the students who were able to handle it, with the support we (are able) to give to those students now." There seemed to be no question, amongst those that this reporter interviewed, that the first year plan's proviso that incoming students develop a close relationship with their advisor/first year tutorial professor allowed for a greater network of support to develop between first year students and the institutions of this college.

However, the plan inherently limits the amount of independent work a student can pursue through their first-year classes, and it does not seem to allow for students to initiate independent work outside of classes for their Division I portfolio. According to Dean Weisler, within the new system, "independent study is an option, not a requirement."

Both Dean Weisler and Director Parker stressed that whatever student independence was sacrificed, there was a corresponding gain in student interest in Hampshire and the 'comfort zone' created by the importance of the student-advisor relationship. Dean Weisler offered an informal statistic.

"Approaching ninety percent of the incoming class was finished with Division I in their first two semesters, and it used to be thirteen percent who finished in that time." The Dean's factoid might indicate that the 'first-year working group,' was right, and last year's new students found it easier to negotiate the academic landmines of first-year college life, thanks to their advisor-mentors. Such survey results could also be used to prove that the new first year plan is less academically rigorous than the old Division I system...

While the loss of the old Division I program makes Hampshire seem less 'bleeding edge' when compared to other alternative colleges, it allows Hampshire to appeal to a wider variety of prospective students. The Department of Academic Development and the Office of Admissions want what Hampshire has to offer to be sold as alternative education, but, as Dean Weisler said, "whether or not that ends up appealing to the marketplace remains to be seen..."

In changing its general educational requirements, Hampshire may have effectively dealt with its attrition rate problems. However, there remains a larger, and as yet unanswerable question: will the first year plan adequately prepare students to have the initiative to create and the diligence to complete the independent work of their academic concentration in Division II and their thesis project in Division III?


 
The Re-Radicalization of Hampshire College, 2004


The Re-Radicalization of Hampshire College
MANIFESTO [Apr. 27, 2004]

We believe this institution has been losing its way by slowly becoming less and less unique through reducing its commitment to independent work. Our protest is born of genuine care and love for Hampshire College. The latest Division-1 development has nearly eliminated independent work from the structure in the First-Year Program, without replacing it or encouraging it elsewhere in the Hampshire divisional system prior to Division-3. Without such preparation, will students have the skills and experience necessary to meet the demands of independent work of Division-3? What is happening to the expectation of independence of thought on which Hampshire was founded?

These concerns prompt us to call for the following:

1. Independent work must be immediately and meaningfully re-incorporated into the structure of the Division-1. This should best be done by designating the second or third semester as a time to do at least one project-based course or independent study.

2. We ask for the dissolution of the Office of the Dean of Academic Development and its replacement with a committee consisting of a minimum of 2 students, 2 staff, and 2 faculty elected by their constituencies. The primary people who should be responsible for creating Hampshire's academic development are those involved in the Hampshire classroom. No amount of surveys or questionnaires will ever replicate the knowledge and experiences of individual students and professors. The committee will be charged with identifying new and innovative ways to improve and build upon the Hampshire educational experience in terms of the values upon which the college was founded.

3. A top priority for hiring professors should be their ability and willingness to form meaningful relationships with students that integrate the academic and personal spheres. It is unacceptable that a significant number of professors who embody such qualities go unacknowledged, so much so that they get re-appointed only with dramatic student protest. We need to channel the feedback that goes beyond credentials. Re-hiring and search committees should solicit substantial student recommendations for prospective faculty.

4. We ask for a renewed interest in faculty involvement in the community outside of the classroom, including residential life. Working connections should be created between staff and professors so that what is learnt in class is brought to real life in the community.

5. "The Making of the College," Hampshire's founding document, should be re-printed and made widely available to the community at large.

6. Entering students should be able to state their preference for an advisor and, independent of their first year tutorial, be assigned a faculty member on that basis. Additionally, students should be allowed to change advisors according to the same rules as Division-2 and Division-3 students. Finally, advisors need to be better trained at fulfilling their role efectively.

7. We ask that each of the five academic schools create more co-taught interdisciplinary courses in order to encourage a better sense of academic community. Exploring interests and connections with other subjects in new ways inspires faculty and students.



"Petition for a Project Based Curriculum: Students Rally for Radicalization", by Bonnie Obremski. The Climax, April 30, 2004. v.2(9): 1,4.

At the beginning of April, fourth year student Lionel Claris and several other student supporters decided to re-radicalize Hampshire College. By the last week of the month, these students put together a statement titled "The Remaking of a College," which emphaized the need for increased independent work in the curriculum. According to Claris, response from students, faculty, and alumni is growing. Those voices are vastly in favor of change.

The institution of a new Division I plan for first year students, put into place two years ago, catalyzed the request for another look at where Hampshire's curriculum is going. Some argue that the plan, which eliminated the requirement for independent projects, bends the college more into the realm of traditional than radical.

The Remaking of a College is a twelve-page statement that includes a manifesto, a letter by Alumni Relations Director Kevin Brown, a section titled Notes from Our School's History, and an essay by Division III student Donald Jackson called "Thoughts on Project Based Learning." Each section outlines why and how the Hampshire College curriculum was intended to be unique by allowing students to direct his or her own education.

"Hampshire cannot compete as a traditional college," said Claris, in an interview. In addition to performing the duties of a housing intern in the Dakin dormitories for the past two years, Claris is also a trustee on the campus life committee. He argued that for nearly $40,000 a year in tuition, students are paying to participate in a system of learning not offered at other schools. If Hampshire reverted to a more traditional system, one that encourages course-based, not project-based learning, applicants will opt for a school with [a] cheaper price tag.

A week remains in the spring semester, and summer threatens to squelch the energy of the re-radicalization movement. Claris, however, believes that this timing is crucial because the student body consists of both those who have experienced independent project based learning and those on the newer Divisional plan. Claris is also graduating in May and wanted to initiate the project while still a student.

The next steps to the re-radicalization project are yet unclear. Over one hundred supporters have signed the manifesto. The list includes students who have served on trustee committees, school committees, housing committees, policy committees and have worked for Admissions, faculty such as Professor Eric Schocket and at least six alumni. An interview with Professor Steven Weisler will air on the Hampshire College Intran channel through the last week of classes...

 

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