About Hampshire College
Hampshire College is a liberal arts college located in Amherst, Massachusetts. It is a young institution that had its first entering class in 1970. Hampshire is distinguished from other small liberal arts colleges by unique approaches to pedagogy, evaluation, and organization.
Hampshire classes are usually quite small, consisting of approximately twenty students and one instructor. Inquiry-based teaching methods are encouraged, with most professors favoring a discussion rather than lecture format. Classes typically engage with primary source material in the form of books or journal articles in favor of textbooks, unless the subject and class level necessitates the use of such a text. Over the course of an education and Hampshire, negotiation between students and faculty occurs within a framework that provides students with more independent control of their projects. This process has its culmination in the year-long final project (or Division III project) where a student creates a largely independent, original work.
Classes at Hampshire operate with a method of evaluation very different from that of most colleges and universities. Formal testing in terms of in-class, structured evaluation is usually replaced by a series of papers and projects that students undertake throughout a course. The content of these papers and projects is typically negotiated between students and faculty, and revision based on extensive feedback between both parties is encouraged and figures highly in the final evaluation a student receives for a course. That final evaluation is given in the form of a written narrative describing a student’s performance throughout the class.
To encourage such multidisciplinary work, Hampshire has replaced single-subject departments with five interdisciplinary Schools-Cognitive Science; Humanities, Arts, and Cultural Studies; Interdisciplinary Arts; Natural Science; and Social Science. This flexible structure permits a great richness and variety of academic activity and encourages faculty to combine interests and expertise in ways restricted under a departmental framework.