Division II is the core of the student’s academic experience at Hampshire. It is a generative time when students articulate their questions and interests and acquire the knowledge and skills that not only help them gain purchase on their questions, but also prepare them to carry out an extensive independent project in Division III. The challenge for Division II students is to continually think across their courses and other experiences to integrate their learning. Doing so requires ongoing communication with their advisor and regular reflection on their learning.
Division II consists of a self-designed concentration pursued through courses and other appropriate learning experiences, such as special projects (such as internships, community-based projects with an organization, and practica), independent studies, field study, and study abroad. Students are asked to consider the multiple cultural perspectives that relate to their work (see MCP requirement) and to integrate the knowledge gained from community involvement into their academic program (see Community Engaged Learning or CEL-2 requirement).
The concentration is designed via an online form, the Division II contract, which is periodically reviewed and revised. The contract supports the student in thinking about the questions that drive them, the goals they have for their learning in Division II, and their plan to accomplish their goals. Students’ goals might include acquiring content knowledge and skills (e.g. research, writing, quantitative, production, project management, creative expression, cultural perspectives, or collaboration skills etc.), learning a language, or any other educational goal. The contract asks students to outline the kinds of courses and out-of-classroom experiences that will help them reach their goals.
A strong Division II concentration gives the student a solid foundation in knowledge and techniques, the broader concepts behind them, and critical and analytical skills. It generally builds from foundational to advanced work and balances depth and breadth. A concentration may range from a plan of study similar to a major at a traditional college, to a highly individualized program of study that encompasses several disciplines or areas of conceptual thought and understanding. The Division II need not be focused solely on a student’s area(s) of concentration. Most students also pursue interests that are not related, much as a student at a traditional college would take electives outside their major.
Division II is typically four full semesters of academic work, culminating in the production of a Division II portfolio and a final meeting with the committee. The Division II committee consists of two Hampshire faculty. The committee has a chair and a member; the chair is the student’s official advisor, and it is likely that the student will meet more regularly with their chair. The member generally take a secondary role, often helping the student think about the questions and learning opportunities in a second or third field of study. Students may invite a Five College faculty member, or a community member in their field, to serve as a third member of the committee, if appropriate.
Within the limits of the resources of the Five College Consortium, and the ability of students and their committees to locate resources, there is great latitude in the selection of learning opportunities in Division II.