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Hampshire College to Reinvent Its Academic Program This Fall

AMHERST — Hampshire College announced a major effort to reinvent its pioneering academic program, engaging its campus community and 12,000 alumni in ongoing meetings this fall and promising to publish a plan by November. The initiative, called Hampshire Launch, marks the college’s 50th anniversary next year and the launch of its second half-century.

The effort is led by President Ed Wingenbach and supported by a campus planning group, who are facilitating weekly meetings with students, faculty, and staff, as well as virtual meetings with alumni. The intensive community discussions will lead to board of trustees action on a plan in October.

The college is exploring new academic and financial models as it creates a vision and roadmap for its future, an effort critical to its admissions recruiting and fundraising. The goal is to produce an inspiring, realistic plan, which also exemplifies its identity and reputation as an experimenting college and presents a model for others in higher education. The academic plan will be accompanied by a sustainable financial plan.

Hampshire College was founded more than 50 years ago to offer a major departure from traditional colleges, rejecting passive lectures and exams and academic majors and departments and empowering students to follow their own questions, design their own program guided by faculty, perform serious independent work, and explore freely across disciplines. Hampshire was founded by its partners in the Five College Consortium — Amherst, Smith, and Mount Holyoke colleges and UMass Amherst.

With its new plan, Hampshire has committed to keeping what’s most distinctive about its education, including its student-designed programs, model of faculty co-learning with students, rigorous capstone projects, and values for social justice, diversity, and community engagement.

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