Hampshire College was opened in 1970 as an experiment in alternative education after the heads of nearby colleges created a plan for a new kind of liberal arts college based on the findings of a committee examining how liberal arts teaching could be improved. Hampshire College was constructed on farm land in South Amherst, Massachusetts to put these innovative ideas into practice. The first class enrolled in 1970 and the college has been a popular choice with students in the years since. Hampshire has a reputation for its strong liberal values and radical approach to liberal arts education.
The academic program at Hampshire reflects its founding principle of focusing on the individual student’s curiosity and motivation so students at Hampshire take complete control of their learning. They are able to choose classes across departments and choose a path of study unique to themselves. Experienced faculty are on hand at all times to offer guidance and support. The college’s emphasis is on learning, not teaching. Hampshire say this approach teaches students how to teach themselves, an invaluable skill for later life. Students gain knowledge in four key areas during their time at Hampshire: analytical writing and research, quantitative analysis and reasoning, independent project-based work, and multiple cultural perspectives.
The campus comprises forested grounds punctuated with academic, administrative and residential buildings, there is also a library, art museum and café as well as extensive sports and leisure facilities. The campus is also home to the National Yiddish Book Centre.