student in media lab

Chapter 11: Origins of the Four Schools

[The four documents excerpted in this chapter contain the original planning for each school. The first three were published in the Planning Bulletin series, and were written by the first dean of each school. The Proposal for a School of Language and Communication was written by the members of the Program in Language and Communication.]

The Proper Study of Mankind—Reconsidered

by Francis D. Smith. April 1969.
Click here for a pdf of the full document.

The program of the School of Humanities and Arts is undertaken out of a principal concern: that undergraduate humanities programs suffer unnecessarily from constricting technicism and a merely peripheral vision of their responsibility for the quality and conditions of human life. Hampshire's humanities and arts program will seek new ways to bring into relationship feeling, thought, and action: to move beyond the humanities defined principally as explication de texte; to arrange a productive interplay between study and performance, inquiry, and expression, relating these to the shape--and the susceptibility to reshaping--of our post-industrial environment. To succeed in such aims, the program must necessarily find the means to reawaken and re-examine some fundamental aspects of our lives. We will be concerned with the constituents of integrity, the growth of vocation, the uses and varieties of play. (p.5)

The design offered in this program states our intention to develop specific programs in the following areas: (1) cultural history, with a special concern for its synthesizing role in seeking to comprehend the diverse modes of thought and practice which together constitute the life of a people; (2) literature and writing as sources of insight into the relations between ideas and emotions, public and private experience; (3) popular culture and the mass media, intensely present in the lives of students and offering striking access to the quality of cultural life; (4) film and video arts, employed as windows on a great variety of worlds and providing an intersection point for many of the College's programs; (5) environmental design and the visual arts, graphic, plastic, and construction arts, urban and architectural design, to turn visual awareness towards the tasks of shaping our man-made physical environment; (6) philosophy, with a particular effort to recover its commitment to questions of worth, the ends of living; (7) human development, the ages of man and woman, from birth to death and the echoes of a life in the succession of generations; and (8) the arts of play, dance, drama, and music, in integral relationship with one another and with a concern for their central role in the growth and sustenance of community. (p.7)

The two-fold principle that will guide Hampshire's program in humanities and the arts is (a) that the ends of education should be as concerned with the quality of the human environment as with the fullest self-realization of students, and (b) that we can find radically more effective means than now are customary for educating sensibility and helping students to apprehend reality (and affect it) in coherent and value-informed ways, through combining direct experience with art and life and intellectual inquiry. (p.12)

There is no need to deride the traditional view that the role of humanities courses is to initiate the student into the intellectual and artistic legacy of his civilization. But the insufficiency of that view lies in its relative passivity, its conception of the college as curator, and its susceptibility to the judgement that practice and performance in the arts are not--not quite--legitimate academic enterprises. A more productive view of learning in the humanities and arts is that meaning may best be found through combining experience and feeling with rigorous inquiry and logical explication. (p.13)

Man in Situ

by Robert C. Birney. June 1969.
Click here for a pdf of the full document.

It has been apparent for some time that the area of the social sciences has seen an extraordinary rapid growth, both in the emergence of disciplines and in an ever-increasing reliance on its scholars for advice in dealing with social problems. As each of the newer fields--psychology, sociology, anthropology, geography, etc.--has appeared at the university it has penetrated the traditional undergraduate program and shouldered its way into contention with the more traditional fields of history, government, and economics. Efforts at integrative area studies have appeared as well: American Studies, African Studies, and so forth, and even general courses or programs in social science--usually beginning as offerings in general education. (p.5)

...the person who chooses to review the state of the art in social science...may begin to abstract, cross-cut, and integrate by way of common methods, interlocking concepts, and emergent orders in the literatures. Or he may, particularly if he is an educator, begin with a basic inquiry into social problems and human lives (including those of his students' generation), thus deriving his priorities and sense of significance from the basic stuff of human need. It is this sort of reflection which suggests that a School of Social Science, staffed by faculty from various disciplines, could achieve an undergraduate program of study which would serve the personal development of the student and enable him to achieve an integration of experience which is presently left to the spontaneous uncertainties of personality and peer group. (p.7)

It will be the aim of Hampshire College to build an educational environment in which students become self-educative, creative as well as competent, responsive to themselves and the quality of their social environment. To this end it becomes mandatory that Hampshire's instructional modes confront the student with the subject of his study at levels engaging his own senses, feeling, and beliefs. The implications of this need for the planning of a program in the social sciences are complex; their exploration will constitute a central dimension of the project here described. Still some preliminary hypotheses can be suggested.

First, given an appropriate choice of subject, much may be gained by devising opportunities for field work and the handling of primary source materials. One important resource lies at hand in the Connecticut River Valley. All of the social science disciplines may be applied, in one combination or another, to social and ecological topics or problems that have taken shape in the surrounding area. The student who wants to create an image of the past has ample materials in the local archives encompassing more than two hundred years--waves of immigration, major changes in use of resources, and an illustrious line of intellectuals whose ideas have helped mold this nation. All manner of contemporary problems are represented; social agencies, schools, hospitals, public authorities and private institutions, young children and retired people. Any of these may serve as resources to students who develop field assignments as part of their study programs. Very little of this type of educational program has been undertaken at the four Valley institutions to date, and Hampshire intends to play a major role in making such possibilities both practical and valuable.

The commitment to field work reflects the desire to see a faculty of working scholars. It is expected that a wide variety of resources in social science will be used by the faculty, and hence by the students...(p.8-9)

Having emphasized field study we must also acknowledge that we need to devise ways of seeing that the price paid for science--method, system, abstraction, concept, replicability, etc.--is not so high that it seriously erodes the broader experimental ends of education. The two are not incompatible, but we must include many of those key subjects whose complexity and subtlety have largely resisted the behavioural scientist but which remain nonetheless important for a liberal education...(p.13)

It is our conviction that the frequent dissociation of the student as a person from his "studies" has its analogy in the condition of citizens who are similarly dissociated from their responsibilites for the communities in which they live and work. The two phenomena are in fact closely related: the effort to evolve new educational modes which restore or kindle a sense of personal participation speaks to the condition of a democratic society as well as to that of its individual members.

Turning from the task of creating an educational experience for the student, we also acknowledge a responsibility for determining the role that Hampshire College must play in its own immediate community. We have been emphasizing what Hampshire can use in the surrounding communities. But we have an obligation to give as well as take, and the planning now under way hopes to create service programs in cooperation with local, urban, and rural school systems, to provide new organizational devices for involvement of institutions of higher learning with the community, and to commit Hampshire to a public concern for the future development of this portion of the Connecticut River Valley.

Having placed such emphasis on the study of our local environs, it must now be asserted that it is not our intention to leave our students with the impression that Man moves from the present to the future. Many of the topics they will encounter need to be placed in an historical context, and to this end we will favor the treatment of socially important ideas by faculty trained in philosophy, political science, government, or law. We will focus upon those ideas which command the loyalties of men today as they have in the past. We hope the social science student will comprehend the great scientific ideas which he will study in the history of science courses proposed by the School of Natural Science as well as honor the great religious ideas and systems which he may study in the School of Humanities and Arts. Above all, we aspire to an assessment of the weight of ideas, rather than succumbing to the easy arrogance that assigns ideas either all the influence or none in the affairs of men. (p.14-15)

Arches of Knowledge

by Everett M. Hafner. August 1969
Click here for a pdf of the full document.

The program in natural science and mathematics at Hampshire will bridge and combine the several disciplines in order most directly to study man in the context of his natural environment. To a large extent, each student's picture of modern science will be one in which he sees himself as participant: perhaps as contributing to the growth of science itself, or as playing an informed and responsible role in a culture served by science. What we describe here is an ideal structure for beginning such a program, set forth with the understanding that the real academic life of the College is to be invented in detail by its faculty and students.

Studies in the School will be organized in a variety of integrated modes, each to exhibit and to explore specific problems in which the strategies of several disciplines come into play. Whether or not a student pursues science beyond his basic studies, he will have shared in a concerted and responsible attack on non-trivial scientific questions. He will deal with problems within the body of pure and applied science. But beyond this, in as many directions and as frequently as possible, he will search for his own view of larger questions: on the character of scientific inquiry, on the technological origins of social strain, and on the demand for value in a world of fact. (p.7)

The planning for studies in science, as we have described it so far, is characterized by

  • modes of teaching which emphasize independent study, small groups, accomodation to variety of background and interests
  • mixtures of disciplines;
  • student participation in significant problems;
  • conscious study of the methods of science;
  • connections to the social sciences and to the humanities and arts. (p.16)

A program in human biology will be the first to mature in our curriculum of natural sciences. Foundations are also being laid for development in geography, history of science, and astronomy. At the same time, studies in pure mathematics will form an essential part of the School. They will both complement and overlap a program in mathematical linguistics now being planned by a Hampshire Committee on Language and Communication...

While working steadily toward integration and connection of mathematics with the disciplines of natural science, we retain a clear view of the wide spectrum of scientific activity between pure mathematics at one extreme and pure lab at the other. Our curriculum will be well-balanced in this respect, exhibiting the theoretical and experimental aspects of science in partnership and counterpoint...

Our new task will be a restoration of academic substance and respectability to ingenious experiment and wise observation, where depth of mathematical insight is secondary. The immediacy of reward in experimental science is a principal factor in programs most compatible with our aims. A primary impulse in natural science is to examine and to test the world of objects. It is an expression of the love of nature, which we want our students to share as the basis of a lifelong interest. We are further encouraged toward an emphasis on observation by the fact that the most rapidly advancing branches of science are closest to the front of knowledge and farthest from mathematical abstraction. For example, studies of interactions of man with his environment are among the newest and most provocative of the sciences. Here the need for acquisition and analysis of data is immediate, while the mathematical burden is lightened by the simple absence of well-developed theory. (p.17-18)

Our program in science will educate a class of scientifically literate non-professionals whose dwindling population is damaging to liberal conceptions of a healthy society. The principal error in permitting graduate training and research to become the dominating concern of the entire academic structure is that it works only in the interests of an elite...The planning of Hampshire College over several years has cleared the air of misconceptions about rigid patterns in higher education, and has created opportunity for experimenting in many directions at once. The plan set forth in this paper has rejected a set of assumptions on which certain conventional attitudes rest: that the teaching of science must be narrow, expensive, and operating to the advantage of a small minority. As an experiment in challenge to these assumptions, the College will produce a continuing test of the idea that a liberal education, including science and mathematics as major components, is still within reach. (p.33-34)

A Proposal for a School of Language and Communication at Hampshire College

by the Members of the Program in Language and Communication. April 1972.
Click here for a pdf of the full document.

a legitimate object of wonder...
the source of all out power over
the external world

--Ogden and Richards
The Meaning of Meaning--

Foreword, by Robert Rardin

Ours is...the Age of Technology, and it is a curious and enlightening paradox of the times that just at the moment when the machine most seriously threatens the human race with ecological catastrophe, it begins to be used as a metaphor to illuminate many of the features most expressive of our humanity. By trying to model machines in our image, we perceive just how unmachinelike we really are. To comprehend just how complicated the human mind is, to appreciate the richness of the structure of natural language, for example, we need only set out to program a computer with the knowledge of a five-year-old child about his native tongue. It happens that the most elaborate, efficient, and expensive array of electronic hardware now available cannot even begin to replicate the linguistic capacity of a human child. Human beings are very far indeed from becoming obsolete. And for good reason, since our propensity for speech is not just an incidental human trait. It is one of the crowning glories of all of evolution.

Why is it that the voice typewriters and automatic translation devices envisaged by science fiction are still so far from technological reality? Why does the human child so grossly outclass the computer as an information-processing device? We are only beginning to guess the answers, because we are only beginning to be clever enough to ask the right questions about ourselves. In the asking, we must overcome the comfortable assumptions of the past. If we are to get anywhere at all, we must keep our minds open and our vision broad.

This report proposes a School of Language and Communication for Hampshire College. At first, the program we outline may appear to the reader to be an impenetrable array of disparate disciplines. One may wonder what this mad combination of historical linguistics, mathematics, and artificial intelligence can possibly portend--even to the individuals who brought it together. In time, however, it becomes apparent that there is an important method in the madness.

The field of inquiry which we have centered in the School of Language and Communication belongs in undergraduate education because, like the more traditional school divisions of natural science, social science, and humanities and arts, it unifies a major perspective on man. The School of Language and Communication adds another dimension by seeing man as a communicating, thinking, and symbolizing being. It provides a fourth arc sweeping through the academic spectrum. (p.1-2)

Overview, by Neil Stillings

This report proposes that a School of Language and Communication be established within the College. It was written by the members of the present Program in Language and Communication, which would provide the foundation of the new school. This section summarizes the conclusions and recommendations which are discussed in the body of the report.

The committee has approved the following six organizational proposals:

  1. Hampshire College should establish a School of Language and Communication for a term of ten years, beginning July 1, 1972. At the end of the eighth year of this term the school would be evaluated, and a College-wide decision would be made to either continue or terminate it.
  2. The school should be administered by an executive group composed of two elected faculty members and a full-time administrative secretary. A full presentation of this proposal is contained in the section on Administration below.
  3. The projected faculty size of the School of Language and Communication should be about 20 FTE. The section on Projected Staffing presents a likely distribution of faculty strength over the areas of study which are proposed later in the report.
  4. Hampshire College should establish a Program in Mass Media and Public Communication which would be distinct from the School of Language and Communication. The faculty of the program would be drawn from all of the schools. The details of and rationale behind this recommendation in the section on mass Media and Public Communication.
  5. Foreign language study should be integrated with the program of the School of Language and Communication. The intellectual reasons for this recommendation and some suggestions for its implementation are presented in the section on Linguistics and Natural Language.
  6. Each school should offer the mathematics appropriate to its areas of inquiry. Accordingly the School of Natural Science and Mathematics should become the School of Natural Science. This proposal and its implications for a School of Language and Communication appear in the section on mathematics.

The committee hopes these recommendations will contribute to productive organizational flexibility and innovation in the College as well as provide a setting for the development of the intellectual concerns summarized below.

The intellectual heart of this report is in the papers on the proposed areas of study. Since Language and Communication is not a traditional discipline, the committee has searched out a rich and coherent set of areas of inquiry, giving substance to the widely held belief that the formal study of the forms and uses of symbols has finally emerged in this century as a major perspective in the study of man. Bob Rardin gives eloquent testimony to this search and its conclusion in his Foreword, and Bill Marsh sketches its roots in the original planning of the College in his History.

It is useful to think of the proposed areas of study in the school as contributing to two fundamental goals, the formal analysis of thought and the formal analysis of communication. Linguistics, computer science, cognitive psychology, philosophy and mathematical logic define a coherent and interrelated set of approaches to the analysis of languages and thought. Linguistics and selected methods from the social sciences will be used in the analysis of human communication.

The committee has tried to define a significant set of phenomena and methods of inquiry which either would not be studied at all in the other schools or would not be studied together with crucially related areas. For example, cognitive development should be studied with lingistics, and computer science should be studied with logic and the theory of algorithms. There are connections between the concerns defined here and those of the present schools which should lead to productive co-operation among faculty in different schools and interesting cross-school study programs for students. Most often methods from two schools will converge on the same topic. For example, in the study of the biological foundations of language Natural Science offers the tools for the study of the nervous systems and Language and Communication offers the tools for the study of the symbol systems of various species. In the study of a literary text Humanities and Arts might place the work in its historical and human context while Language and Communication might make a linguistic analysis of its style. In the study of a communication situation Social Science might concentrate on the roles of the participants and their perceptions of the situation, while Language and Communication might concentrate on how these play out in the detailed structure of interaction.

The following list is a brief guide to the statements of the Language and Communication committee members. In each case the topic of a paper is followed by a brief description of its conclusions.

Linguistics and Natural language. Two areas of linguistics will be studied, the formal analysis of language structure and the relationship between language and culture. In the first area the theories which have arisen in the development of generative grammar will be emphasized. In the second area linguistic methods are used to analyze the ways in which the structure of language mirrors the structure of society and social relations. This area can be seen as part of the study of interpersonal communication.

Finally, the study of several major foreign languages at the introductory level would be located in the school.

Cognitive Psychology. The study of cognitive psychology will focus on the development of language and thought in the child. There are close relationships between cognitive psychology, linguistics and computer science which can be developed in a School of Language and Communication.

Interpersonal Communication. In the study of interpersonal communication methods of linguistics and the social sciences are used to analyze the detailed structure of verbal and nonverbal symbolic interaction.

Philosophy. The areas of philosophy studied in the school should be the philosophy of language, the philosophy of the mind and contemporary philosophical analysis applied both to the special concerns of philosophers and to important general questions in the lives of students. There are now significant interactions between these areas of philosophy and linguistics, cognitive psychology and mathematical logic.

Mathematics. The study of mathematical logic, the foundations of mathematics and the theory of computation would be located in the school. These areas have drawn problems from and contributed significantly to linguistics, philosophy and computer science.

Computer Science. The study of computer science will include the theory and use of programming languages, artificial intellegence and information retrieval. Mathematical logic and the theory of computation provide the foundation for the study of computer science. Cognitive psychology is based on a computer metaphor. The study of linguistics is important for those interested in systems which could interact effectively with human beings.

Mass Media and Public Communication. This area constitutes a topic which should be studied in a cross-school program. The School of Language and Communication would contribute faculty to the program. (p.3-6)


Stay In Touch
With Hampshire College
Snail Mail
Hampshire College
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002