The skills and knowledge learned from our dedicated faculty are invaluable not only in the pursuit of graduate degrees and careers but also in shaping one's individual perspective on history, politics, psychology, the social sciences and society at large.
Majors in HPSS think critically on a broad range of issues. Our graduates are prepared to constructively engage with the world around them, drawing on their understanding of how our perceptions of the past, present, and future are fundamentally linked in shaping our experiences.
We offer the following four-year degree programs designed to prepare students for graduate studies in their chosen field:
Both the Modern History and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences can also be combined into a double major with Secondary Education, which will prepare and certify students to teach History or Social Studies in middle and high schools.
In addition to the above Majors, the Department also offers minors in the following areas, which can be combined with majors offered by HPSS or other departments.
Here are just two great examples of history, philosophy & social science courses at Montana Western. For a full course selection, please see the current catalog.
Women have played an incredibly important role in shaping American society over the years, but you would be hard-pressed to find evidence of that in most traditional textbooks. In this class we examine not only what women have done throughout American History, but also the unique perspectives (both contemporary and historical) they offer in recording those experiences. Class projects include the production of radio documentaries and public poster presentations, which allow us not only to use the wealth of audio and visual materials available on this topic, but also to spread what we learn to the broader community.
Resource scarcities are the source of conflict in many parts of the world, and appropriate and sustainable development is crucial to sustaining the supply of oil, forests, minerals, fish, and other resources. This course examines the nature and distribution of world resources, the potential for conflict over these resources, and potential means of achieving sustainability. Students will be evaluated on written assignments, a term project, and class discussion.
A degree in history or the social sciences will provide you with the basic skills necessary to become successful in almost any non-technical career or graduate studies program. The ability to conduct research, analyse resources, and draft compelling essays that effectively lay out an engaging and convincing argument based on evidence has near universal applications. Individuals who have completed our programs have gone on to find work in a wide variety of jobs, including-- but not limited to-- the following:
"I came to the study of history via the conviction that the Russian novelist Fedor Dostoevskii was right about almost everything. Turning youthful exuberance to practical use, I earned a PhD in 2009, focusing particularly on Russia and the Soviet Union.
Since then, I’ve taken up teaching Western Civilization, World History, Russian History, and the Philosophy of History. Not only do my students discover the highly engaging nature of these subjects, but also (bonus) these subject generally illustrate that I was on to something: Dostoevskii was right about pretty much everything, after all."
"My love of history and the world began thanks to my parents, immigrants from Poland who came to the United States after World War II. My first language was Polish, yet I attended an English speaking American school. I grew-up in an urban, working-class, and multi-ethnic neighborhood, however most childhood summers were spent in rural Poland. I learned about the American Revolution in school, while at home I heard first-hand accounts about the Holocaust and Nazi occupation from my parents.
Shopping in well-stocked supermarkets and air-conditioned shopping malls was normal to me, but I also experienced and understood what life was like in grey and dreary communist Poland. To wit, I had incredible and diverse experiences as a child that allowed me to appreciate how rich and varied the world’s many identities, and memories of the past are. An appreciation of the many different experiences, realities, memories, and identities that shape history is what I try to convey to my students. I strive to do this each day in the classroom."
"As the newest faculty member to join the department, I bring new courses on the history of Latin America, the Caribbean, piracy, and slavery. Originally from Albuquerque, NM, I am happy to be back in the mountain west after seven years in Florida.
My research focuses on 19th and 20th century Haiti, in particular the construction of Haitian national identity and memory of the Haitian Revolution. My interest in Haiti and collective memory are rooted in an eye-opening experience I had as an undergrad. Sitting in the hills outside of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, I faced an intellectual conflict. As a young history student, I was perplexed by the living history tour in which I just participated. The guides’ narrative did not seem to match what I had learned in the classroom and led me to wonder why they had presented a modified version. My original intellectual dilemma dealt with my undergraduate training in African history, but the experience prompted larger questions of memory struggles and the production a historical narratives. I began to address these in my MA thesis, “Portable Sites of Memory: Edwidge Danticat’s The Farming of Bones and Marie Vieux Chauvet’s Amour, Colère et Folie, ” in which I studied how the two novels serve as sites of memory that engage readers in acts of witnessing as an alternative form of remembering for Haitians at home and in the diaspora. In my dissertation, I further investigated how individuals, intellectuals, and heads of state have constructed Haitian history, specifically the Haitian Revolution and nation’s founding."
"People amaze me, annoy me, entertain me, frustrate me, inspire me, intrigue me, make me smile and break my heart. When it comes right down to it, why would I study anything else?
It's a fascination with a long-standing history for me. By sixth grade I was collecting quotations, copying all the clever sayings I heard or read onto sheets of paper I kept in a yellow folder. I still have that folder and I find that it still reflects the interests that drive my work today: an appreciation for language, an interest in what it means to be wise, and a conviction that our belief systems and learning histories shape our choices and behaviors, and help to account for many of the seemingly fundamental differences between people.
In graduate school I merged those interests and began to study how personality is related to the proverbs and sayings that people believe and live by. Do you believe that it is better to have loved and lost than never loved at all? Do you believe that anything worth doing is worth doing well? I believe that our lives, at least in part, reflect our answers to these questions, whether or not we have ever consciously considered them.
With interests like this, I could easily have become a folklorist or a philosopher or taken up residence in an English department. But I also believe that such topics can be studied empirically, as fodder for scientific investigation and not just for philosophical reflection. We can go beyond asking what people believe-- and why and whether they are good beliefs-- to studying how those beliefs predict and perhaps even help to determine the choices and behaviors that shape our lives."
"My passion for history grew out of my immersion in the popular culture of my youth. Watching John Wayne movies and TV shows like "Daniel Boone" made me want to know more about my country's incredible past, leading to a pursuit for understanding that continues to the present day.
I still consider the mythology as worthy of study as the facts, and teach my students to differentiate between the two while appreciating how they each reinforce elements of the American experience. To that end, my classes often engage cultural themes-- film, music, literature, photography, sports, etc.-- and as much as possible I construct assignments that allow students to draw on cultural artifacts in developing their own interpretations of the past.
I'm convinced that it is in examining this breadth of human activity, not just politics and economics, that the study of history proves its value to society, and helps to shape responsible citizens of the future."
Mark Krank teaches psychology at Montana Western. He is particularly interested in how psychology relates to education. Krank conducted the analysis of a large data set on Experience One scheduling when Montana Western implemented the program on a pilot basis from 2002-2004. Krank also teaches education classes and a special class once a year that examines the minds of serial killers.
"My history is a personal story of intellectual awakening and growth as a radical in love with the wonderment of the radical life-style. Mine is a story of insurrection and rebellion against the limits placed upon human potential in a philistine, commercial, consumer-based, bourgeois society.
This rebellion is at its core anti-capitalist, anti-state, anti-bureaucratic, anti-clerical, anti-patriarchal and anti-positivist. My rebellion has continually evolved as age brought more insight and wisdom. One tradition replaces another as experiences lead naturally to new ways of dealing with life, incorporating what came before in a new light.
Coming of age in the 1960s, I discovered the philosophy of the Russian Anarchists of Bakunin, Kropotkin, Goldman, and Berkman. This became my gospel, as I saw my self as but a small part of the struggle for human dignity and emancipation from the evil trinity of the market economy, organized religion, and the state (any form of government). I felt we would rise up and eradicate the evil trinity; and the malfeasant archangels, patriarchal family and nationalism (patriotism). This treacherous and heinous alliance would soon too fall to the vengeful sword of the frightful revolutionary mass.
With the collapse of the movement in the early 1970s, the veterans of the old left became beautiful beacons in the night. The Industrial Workers of the World, Socialist party USA, Communist Party USA, and the Socialist Workers Party became my foundation."
"I was born and raised in Missoula, MT. Coming from a family of educators and elected officials, it seemed only natural that I would grow up and contribute to the “family business” by teaching politics.
I have been shaped primarily by my grounding in the liberal arts. Artes Liberales (Latin for “liberal arts”) are the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for a person to live a free life as an engaged citizen. Traditionally, the liberal arts are taught through exposure to a wide range of subjects and experiences. I always try to bring that liberal arts approach to my teaching at Montana Western, where I offer courses in politics, history, philosophy, law, geography, and cultural studies.
This commitment also extends to my scholarship, which includes published pieces on politics, indigenous studies, philosophy, geography, and civic education policy. My research is grounded in poststructuralism – particularly the work of Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Derrida, and Michel de Certeau – and is animated by a political motivation to support marginalized peoples against oppression.
If a student graduates with only an increased body of knowledge, then we have failed them. A higher education should transform you into a different person in mind, heart, and body; one capable of living in freedom and ready to tackle the problems of the 21st century. I have deep faith that HPSS graduates will be the leaders, big thinkers, and creative forces of their generation, critically engaged as learned citizens at the local, regional, and global levels."
For more information about History, Philosophy and Social Sciences at Montana Western, contact department chair Aaron Weinacht:
Main Hall 308 (406) 683-7359
UMW grad Justinn Marshall was accepted into the University of Washington's regional medical education program.
Coming to Montana Western was part of fulfilling a childhood dream of becoming a doctor for Lindsey Densmore.
Marcus Williams came to Montana Western to play football and major in business administration.
Recent Montana Western graduate Taeler Rodriguez has been accepted to the University of Denver’s graduate program.
Kolby Brown is a literature major at the University of Montana Western.