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$1 Million Gift to Support CBD Program

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Foundation for Psychocultural Research has given Hampshire College $1 million to support the work of its Culture, Brain, and Development program.

The Culture, Brain, and Development (CBD) program facilitates student and faculty work at the intersection of neuroscience, anthropology, biology, psychology, philosophy, sociology, and related fields. The program sharpens academic understanding of human development by moving away from the traditional debate about nature versus nurture and exploring development as a process that involves both body and mind within a context of biology and culture.

"This generous support from the Foundation for Psychocultural Research will enable us to add exciting new components to a program that is already generating a great deal of excitement at Hampshire," said President Ralph Hexter.

The foundation gift, over the next five years, will enable Hampshire to expand the CBD curriculum, upgrade laboratory facilities, and develop and strengthen connections across the Five College academic community.

An instrumentation upgrade will expand the capabilities of the Event Related Potential (ERP) laboratory, increasing research opportunities in psychology as well as developmental and cognitive neuroscience. Hampshire's neuroendocrinology lab will also be expanded, increasing capabilities for combined neurophysiology, endocrinology, and behavioral studies.

A competitive Culture, Brain, and Development Graduate Fellowship will fund opportunities for graduate students from the University of Massachusetts to work with the CBD program at Hampshire, with three to five fellows anticipated over the next five years. CBD Fellows will conduct research with a faculty advisor at Hampshire in collaboration with the graduate advisor at UMass. The fellows will also teach a CBD course at Hampshire, bringing their expertise to Hampshire students and strengthening their ability to teach from the program's interdisciplinary perspective so that they might carry these ideas forward into their teaching and research beyond graduate school.

The Foundation for Psychocultural Research (FPR), based in Pacific Palisades, California, supports programs and scholarly efforts that provide models of integrative cultural and neuroscientific research. It was founded in 1999 by a gift from Robert Lemelson (79F), research anthropologist in the Semel Institute of Neuroscience at UCLA. Lemelson is a graduate of Hampshire College, and his deep interest in the relationship between neurobiology, culture, and behavior took shape during his years as an undergraduate student at Hampshire. For more information about the Foundation for Psychocultural Research, please visit

"The Foundation for Psychocultural Research continues to view Hampshire College, with its multidisciplinary focus, as the ideal site for an undergraduate program seeking a more profound understanding of the relationship of the individual, culture, and the brain. Hampshire students will have the unique opportunity to take part in the creation of a new scientific discipline that is transforming our understanding of the deep linkages between the external cultural world and the interior world of the mind and brain," said Dr. Lemelson. "We are delighted that the program will now expand to include opportunities for graduate students to carry the CBD model forward into institutions where they will teach in the future."

This is the second $1 million gift from the Foundation for Psychocultural Research to Hampshire College, with the first in 2003 used to establish the Culture, Brain, and Development program and to support its first five years of operation.

A Hampshire College faculty steering committee oversees the CBD program. Laura Sizer, philosophy professor and CBD program director, said, "In addition to the development of new interdisciplinary courses, CBD sponsors faculty seminars to promote greater understanding between faculty in diverse fields and contributes to increased opportunities for collaborative research and teaching."

The program awards student research stipends. A dozen CBD stipends were awarded to students this academic year for internships, research, and presentations at national conferences.

CBD also hosts public lectures by distinguished scholars and leading thinkers in human development, human behavior, and learning. A national workshop on "Research and Undergraduate Education at the Intersections of Culture, Mind, Brain, and Development" was organized by CBD faculty and held in May 2007.

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