Urgent Challenges

We’re living through a time of great change, with revolutions in technology, global politics, modes of human interaction, and knowledge building. There is no shortage of thorny challenges. At Hampshire, you will join others to make a difference.

Arrow with the words "Urgent Challenges"

That's why we organized a portion of our curriculum around urgent challenges. Students become engaged in addressing these pressing global issues through our Learning Collaboratives—intellectual and creative communities that focus on the critical questions related to urgent challenges. We want our students to gain the kinds of skills that will prepare them for a lifetime of work that matters.

Engagement with an urgent challenge will help you:

  • Gain a realistic introduction to real world issues
  • Recognize your role in addressing complex urgent challenges
  • Develop the critical thinking skills you’ll need to solve problems
  • Contextualize your learning to best support your ability to use your knowledge in new settings

In your first year, you’ll take a Division I seminar that is connected to a Learning Collaborative (LC) question that addresses an “urgent challenge” in the world—one that requires many good minds working together to even begin to answer. You can work on this question beyond your seminar by attending the events or joining in on team projects associated with an LC. The LC questions change periodically, but a few that we have embarked on answering include:

  • How do we repair our environment?
  • How can we disrupt and dismantle white supremacy?
  • How do we decide what constitutes “truth” in a “post-truth” era?
  • Whose histories get told?

In your Division II, you’ll be asked to consider whether there is an urgent challenge that is associated with your areas of interest as you design your course of study. Thinking about your work in this way can help guide you in pursuing a set of classes, internships, and projects that move you in a forward direction with purpose. At the end of Division II, you’ll reflect on the meaning of your work and the degree to which you connected to a challenge.

In Division III, you’ll have the opportunity to apply your learning to a piece of scholarship or art that might help you continue on your path with the challenges you laid out for yourself. Or you might find that your thinking has shifted, and you will find new ways to build on the solid foundation you developed.