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Environmental Studies and Sustainability Program (ESSP)

Hampshire's interdisciplinary Environmental Studies and Sustainability Program (ESSP) includes environmental science; ecology; sustainable agriculture; conservation; technology and design; and sustainable communities.

Program Description

The Environmental Studies and Sustainability Program (ESSP) is a multidiscipline program for students and faculty across the College. It brings together a rich grouping of courses, ongoing projects, campus programs, and speakers so that students can develop their own ways to combine the sciences, social sciences, and humanities to study and work on environmental and sustainability topics.

Through the ESSP Program Hampshire students develop a truly interdisciplinary, project-based course of studies that allows them to tackle--with the help of faculty and other students--complex, real-world issues. This is just the preparation that college graduates need to face the difficult environmental problems and challenges of today.

Division I in ESSP

Division I at Hampshire is accomplished mainly in the first year. By taking problem and issue-based courses, students begin the process of asking their own questions and building on the progress of other professionals before them.

Through their courses students might work on an electrical generating windmill at the Farm Center, assess concentrations of arsenic from historical spraying in our apple orchards, count and observe migrating birds from our aerial walkway, or assess environmental justice issues in nearby postindustrial cities.

Division II in ESSP

Students accomplish their concentration, Division II, during their second and third years, and they design their concentrations with the guidance of a faculty committee. Each Division II is unique and includes courses, internships, and projects. ESSP students especially interested in the sciences might focus on geology, chemistry, biology, ecology, or agriculture.

Students focusing in social sciences may study economics, environmental politics and planning, or historical aspects of sustainability. Others might choose a more interdisciplinary path and integrate the social and natural sciences or humanities and sciences. Most ESSP concentrations are by nature interdisciplinary.

  • Programs, both international and national, are often central to students' ESSP concentrations. Through the many and diverse opportunities available literally world-wide, students gain authentic experience critical for Division III (the senior thesis).

Some example Division II titles in different areas are:

  • Sustainable Infrastructure and Water Resource/Agricultural Systems Design
  • Water Crises: The cultural, political, and ecological consequences of human water use
  • Healing Our Environment: The Intersections between Food, Justice and Health
  • Environment, Energy, Economics; An interconnected web
  • Ecological and Educational Systems: Integration and Application

For more Division II titles, see projects.

Division III in ESSP

Division III includes an in-depth project that students work on during their final year at Hampshire. Many ESSP students do summer field projects or internships on and off campus and then return to campus to write a thesis under the supervision of their Division III committee.

Example Division IIIs in ecology and conservation; geology and chemistry; policy and history; community development; entrepreneurship and invention; and agriculture and nature writing are listed below:

    • Agricultural Systems Thinking: Re-designing urban farming systems that are radically inclusive of marginalized communities
    • Bird Feathers as Bioindicators: Spatial Heavy Metal Analysis of Indian House Crow Feathers using LA-ICP-MS
    • Denitrification in streams and riparian zones along an urban to exurban gradient
    • From Alberta to Texas: A Critical Examination of the Keystone XL pipeline and its Opposition
    • Influence of Land Cover on Stream Temperature: Implications for Modeling and Waterway Restoration
    • Land of Fish and Rice: Agriculture, Eutrophication, and Phytoremediation in China's Chao Lake
    • Profit vs. People: A Case Study in the Environmental and Social Impact of Big Oil
    • Rendering the River: An analysis of the Atlantic Salmon Restoration Effort on the Connecticut River
    • Temporally produced nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from differently managed agricultural soils: relative contributions from bacteria and fungi

    For more Division III titles, see projects.

    It is paradoxical that buildings on college and university campuses, places of intellect, characteristically show so little thought, imagination, sense of place, ecological awareness, and relation to any larger pedagogical intent....A genuine liberal arts education will foster a sense of connectedness, implicatedness, and ecological citizenship, and will provide the competence to act upon such knowledge.

    David Orr, "Architecture as Pedagogy," 1994

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    Hampshire College
    893 West Street
    Amherst, MA 01002