School Definitions of Research

Critical Social Inquiry

Research carried out by Hampshire faculty and students in the School of Critical Social Inquiry focuses on questions (not hypotheses) that center on meanings underlying social, political, and other actions, especially in circumstances where there is likely to be a gap between word (attitudes, policies, etc.) and deed (acts, lived through experience, etc.). This approach to research challenges the mainstream assumption that useful, legitimate knowledge is testable and replicable, and offers an alternate definition of research as grounded in different forms of knowledge.

This means that Hampshire researchers (and others) aim to provide a more nuanced understanding of the world from a variety of perspectives rather than simply from the researchers. Instead, research is a process for exploring the multiple ways in which people categorize their worlds. It seeks to understand the significance of those perspectives and categories for the many ways by which people learn their place in society and represent their worldview in politics, policy, social relations, the built environment, art, and other facets of their social, economic, and political worlds.

Cognitive Science/Natural Science

For those who work in disciplines found in the schools of Cognitive and Natural Science, research is a process by which a hypothesis is generated (e.g. through aggregation, observation, experimentation) and information is collected (e.g. through aggregation, observation, experimentation) to interpret or evaluate the hypotheses.