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Montana Western students return to campus, begin Block Five

January 10, 2017

The week of Jan. 9, 2017 marks the return of classes at the University of Montana Western after a nearly three week holiday break.


The week of Jan. 9, 2017 marks the return of classes at the University of Montana Western after a nearly three week holiday break.

“We’re excited about 2017 and looking forward to what will be a very eventful Block Five,” Chancellor Beth Weatherby said. “From international trips to climate change studies, Block Five is full of opportunities for students to receive hands-on experience.”

Montana Western operates under a block scheduling program called Experience One. Students attend eight blocks, or classes, throughout the school year receiving the same amount of credit as under traditional semesters. The innovative program emphasizes concentrated, real-world learning.

Chancellor Weatherby said upcoming Block Five highlights include:

During week one of the three week block, Assistant Professor of Environmental Sciences Spruce Schoenemann will take his Environmental GeoChemistry class to southwest Montana’s Pioneer Mountains to gather data for exploring climate change in the area.

“My students will collect snow and water samples to learn how to use geochemical analyses and simple models to make interpretations about the regional climate,” Schoenemann said. “Assuming we’re able to collect quality data, the work has real potential for publication, giving the students unmatched graduate-level work experience.”

The 2017 Dances with Words visiting author series begins on Wednesday, Jan.18 with acclaimed Montana author Rick Bass.

Referred to as a “national treasure” by author Carl Hiassen, Bass has won numerous awards, including multiple Pushcart Prizes and O. Henry Awards, and his stories, articles and essays have appeared in The Paris Review, The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly among many other widely read publications.

“We’re lucky to bring in a writer of Bass’ stature,” series founder Professor Alan Weltzien said. “Students and community members have a unique opportunity to hear and learn from one of Montana’s best known authors.”

During week two, business students will travel to Austria with Professor and Business Department Chair Fred Chilson and Associate  Professor of Business Christian Gilde. Chilson will lead the trip, with the help of Gilde, an Austrian native, from Jan. 18 through Feb. 1.

“Our students will have the incredible chance to visit Vienna, the nation’s capital, and Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart,” Chilson said. “When visiting businesses throughout Austria, students will become familiar with how they plan, organize and control their operations. For students interested in international business, experiences like this are excellent opportunities to see how businesses function around the world.”

Gilde and Chilson organized corporate visits to Red Bull, Swarovski Crystal, BMW and Fischer Skis.

Students from the university’s fine arts department will perform Dr. Seuss’ “The Cat in the Hat” beginning Thursday, Jan. 26 at 7:30 p.m. with additional performances Jan. 27-28 at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m.

“We’re thrilled to bring the Dr. Seuss classic to the Montana Western stage,” Professor of Fine Arts Judy Ulrich said. “Our performers, costume and set designers and producers have been working hard for months to ensure a high quality production for students and community members to enjoy.”

The play is part of the Bank of Commerce’s Performing Arts Series, directed by former Montana Western student, Tawsha Jones. She has a bachelor’s in theatrical design and in addition to her directing duties for “The Cat in the Hat”, will design costumes for upcoming Bank of Commerce productions.

Block Five runs through Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017.