Education Programs: Humanities Initiatives at Community Colleges

Period of Performance

3/1/2021 - 9/30/2023

Funding Totals

$144,719.00 (approved)
$144,719.00 (awarded)

A Bridge to Humanities Pathways in College: Using Film Production to Explore Local Culture and History

FAIN: AE-277710-21

Helena College (Helena, MT 59601-3054)
Ari Lee Laskin (Project Director: July 2020 to present)

Three iterations of a two-week summer bridge program for area students where they would research a topic on the region’s cultural heritage and produce a documentary film of their work.

Helena College proposes a summer bridge program for high school and at-risk college students to research topics that situate present issues of small-town, rural America in the context of the past; produce documentary films; and enroll in humanities pathways. Students will learn interdisciplinary humanities methodologies, principles, and debates as they select appropriate historical photographs, newspaper articles, literature, and moving images, write a script, interview local experts and historians, design graphics, and develop the promotion and distribution plan for their production. Three summer programs will focus on topics that represent under-explored aspects of the region’s cultural heritage: 1) a comparative analysis of Montana’s pandemics in 1918 and 2020; 2) the crucial yet overlooked role of people of color in the region’s formation; and 3) the impact of mining waste on community and ecology. The program will utilize community resources and strengthen humanities pathways.

Associated Products

No Ordinary Time (Film/TV/Video Broadcast or Recording)
Title: No Ordinary Time
Writer: Student writers
Director: Student Directors
Producer: Student Producers
Abstract: Local high school students explore the 1918 Spanish Flu in Montana to come to terms with their own experience of the current pandemic in the film, No Ordinary Time. They focus on the overlooked impact of the Spanish Flu pandemic on Montana, one of the hardest hit states with the country’s third-highest mortality rate. The Spanish Flu claimed 1% of Montana’s population (5,000 lives) in 1918-1919. What can we learn from this earlier virus and our successes and missteps in responding to it? Working with local historians, filmmakers, professors, and health officials, students produced this film in a 2-week immersive summer-bridge program offered through Helena College.
Year: 2021
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: n/a
Secondary URL:
Secondary URL Description: n/a
Access Model: open access
Format: Video

The People's House (Film/TV/Video Broadcast or Recording)
Title: The People's House
Writer: Student writing department
Director: The student director/writer department
Producer: The student production department.
Abstract: Montana’s capitol, designed at the end of the 19th century, was intended to be the “people’s house,” uniting diverse interests across what was then just a territory to form the 41st state. But does it continue to live up to those principles today? Does it still speak to all Montanans? The student filmmakers of the Humanities Through Film Summer Bridge Program present The People’s House, a documentary analyzing the past and present of the state Capitol to answer the question: who's in and who's out at the people's house?
Year: 2022
Primary URL:
Secondary URL:
Format: Film

NEH Student Films 2023 (Film/TV/Video Broadcast or Recording)
Title: NEH Student Films 2023
Writer: This is a compilation of films each made by different students.
Director: This is a compilation of films each made by different students.
Producer: This is a compilation of films each made by different students.
Abstract: Historian Paul Schullery has called fly fishing “an exercise in imagination, if not dreams,” by which he means that the act of fishing, much like Montana itself, is caught up in a series of fantasies people have about the Western frontier, invasiveness, untamed nature, and our own complicated relationship to exploitation and preservation of the environment. Fishing is also very real in Montana, as a source of sustenance and jobs linked to mining, water rights, and the climate. Fishing is deeply connected to the meaning of Montana and Montana fishing has a rich history in Hollywood, literature, painting and Native American culture.
Year: 2023
Primary URL:
Access Model: Open Access
Format: Video

Behind-The-Scenes NEH 2023 (Film/TV/Video Broadcast or Recording)
Title: Behind-The-Scenes NEH 2023
Writer: n/a
Director: n/a
Producer: n/a
Abstract: This short video provides a behind-the-scenes look at this years NEH Humanities through Film program on the social history of fishing in Montana.
Year: 2023
Primary URL:
Format: Video