MISSOULA – Missoula College of the University of Montana has received a $97,000 grant to develop the state’s first veterans studies course, which could launch as soon as next spring.

Lt. Col. Elizabeth Barrs (UM Photo)
Lt. Col. Elizabeth Barrs (UM Photo)

Lt. Col. Elizabeth Barrs, a graduate student pursuing a doctorate in history at UM, submitted the original grant proposal and will take the lead in developing the course curriculum. A retired Army veteran, she helped launch a similar program at Eastern Kentucky University.

Approximately one in 10 Montanans has served in the armed forces, and they face unique challenges that often are not understood by many professionals in health care, social work, law, education, government, commerce and other industries. The grant, funded through the National Endowment for the Humanities and secured with the help of U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, will allow MC to design a class to help students understand the unique experiences of veterans and their families.

“Missoula College is thrilled to be identified as a recipient of this award from the NEH,” said Clint Reading, MC associate dean. “It will allow us to expand a much-needed area of study that will stimulate awareness of the veteran experience. In addition to the classroom study, the outreach component will be a wonderful way to explore the many positive contributions that our veterans provide to the community.”

The interdisciplinary course will explore the institutional, cultural and relational dimensions of the military/veteran experience through collaboration with other UM departments, such as English, history, political science, social work, public and community health and psychology. Only a handful of institutions across the country offer similar courses or programs, and the MC class will be the first of its kind at a Montana university.

The course will encourage enrollment of non-veterans and veterans alike to enrich it with diverse perspectives, experiences and questions. This also will provide Montana student veterans with an opportunity to better comprehend their own experiences in the context of a broader systematic study.


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