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First-of-a-kind Montana History Course Being Offered to Community; New Historical Web Site Unveiled


Dr. John M. Garic, Dean of Highlands College, today announced that a special Montana Tech class on Montana history is available not only to students but to community members in Butte and Southwest Montana.  The class is based upon the 43 hour Montana history video series “In the Crucible of Change,” which was produced over the last year by Montana Tech, Highlands College and Highlands instructor, Evan Barrett.  The production effort was supported by grants from Humanities Montana, Greater Montana Foundation, Montana History Foundation and the Lee & Donna Metcalf Charitable Trust.

The course, entitled “Montana 1965-1980 – Dramatic Period of Progressive Change,” is scheduled for 6:30 to 7:45 PM every Tuesday and Thursday between January 12 and April 26.  Instruction will be held at the third floor conference room of the Butte Public Library in order to make it easily accessible to community members.

The series “In the Crucible of Change” chronicles “the dramatic period of progressive change Montana experienced between 1965 and 1980, a time when Montana tore off the ‘copper collar’ of corporate dominance of the state’s first 75 years and crafted a citizen-oriented state in which the people were empowered,” said Barrett.  “It has been referred to as the second most important decade in Montanan’s history, and in the series we were lucky to be able to find and record so many still-living Montanan history-makers to provide their personal perspective on the period,” Barrett added.

Dr. Garic said that the video history series is of great importance for Montanans now and even more so in the future.  “The remarkable group of people Evan Barrett put together and the narrative history they recorded represents primary historical documentation that will provide great material for the historians of the future as they document this important period in the history of our state,” Garic said.  “And the course we are offering provides a first glimpse at these important perspectives to both students and community members.”

“Montana Tech is proud to have been able to produce this outstanding contribution to Montana history. It is wonderful that Evan had the foresight to gather this history while he could still talk in person to many of folks who were involved,” said Montana Tech Chancellor, Don Blackketter. “We know that the permanence of the collection here on Digital Commons will allow future Montanan’s the ability to learn from content.” The class will use the video series, or for those who prefer reading, the transcripts, as source materials for presentations and discussion.  Barrett has indicated that there will be selected guest presentations, as well. In addition to the availability of the course, Garic announced the unveiling of a new website www.crucible of change.com , built into Montana Tech’s Digital Commons, which will house videos, transcripts and other relevant material related to the 43 one-hour episodes in the series. 

The series, which has been playing on cable television public affairs channels for over a year as it has been developed, has been heralded by governmental and political leaders, journalists, academics and historians, a sampling of which is included below:

  • “…truly extraordinary” – Governor Steve Bullock 
    “…will have an impact on the future direction of our state” – Brian Schweitzer, former Governor 
    “…a significant contribution to recorded Montana history” – Pat Williams, former Congressman 
    “…makes an invaluable contribution to the history of our state” – Bob Brown, former Secretary of State and current Chair of the Montana Historical Society Board 
    “…unique chronicle of the period” – Brian Shovers, Historian 
    “…a major contribution to Montana history” - Lawrence Pettit, PhD, Political Scientist 
    “…illuminated an era of politics in which the state government really served to make Montana a better place” John McNay, PhD, History Professor 
    “…outstanding job of capturing this critically important era” – Chuck Johnson, Newspaper Journalist 
    “…goes beyond remembering and seeks wisdom that… can be applied to the Montana of today.” - Ian Marquand, Broadcast Journalist 
    “Thanks … for memorializing such a remarkable era” – former Legislator Dorothy Bradley 
    “…built a bridge for history” – Historian Chris Fisk 
    “…gives viewers a unique perspective into Montana politics and government” – Jay Kohn, Broadcast Journalist 
    “…so thoughtfully envisioned and developed” – Mae Nan Ellingson, Constitutional Convention Delegate and Attorney 
    “…a fascinating history of this pivotal era…an essential primer for policy-makers today” – Nancy Keenan, former Superintendent of Public Instruction

Community members who want to sign up for the class can do so by contacting Tech’s Enrollment Services at 406-496-4256.  Officially, the class for community members is referred to as MT 291-Section 88 - CRN # 35839.  Community members can attend for an $80 fee for the 40 hours.  Those interested can also contact Barrett directly at ebarrett@mtech.edu for help with enrollment.