Creating a 'community' college

Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Enrichment Project begins third season

A Colorado Mountain College program is striving to put the community back into community college.

The Alpine Enrichment Program, a fall and spring series of seminars and book discussions, begins its third season Wednesday with a slightly revised format but the same goal.

"We really want to show the community that we're here to try to intellectually enrich and challenge it in some way," said Janie Swartz, CMC professor and co-founder of the Alpine Enrichment Program. "We try to offer different topics, forums and educational venues for the community."

Swartz and Alpine Campus Dean Robert Ritschel initiated the program two years ago, and they say its popularity is gradually growing.

"We've been very pleased with the reception from the community," Ritschel said. "We think this will be a program that will last a long time."

Part of the attraction of the Alpine Enrichment Program is that its seminars address a wide range of issues and interests, Ritschel said.

Seminar topics slated for the fall schedule include a look at foreign intelligence challenges in the 21st century, a tour of Routt County pictographs, a discussion of ethics and a sneak screening of a short film on tap dancing produced by the former director of the TV series "Matlock."

Each seminar and book discussion will be led by a resident, Swartz said.

The area's highly educated population fits the Alpine Enrichment Program well, Ritschel said.

"The people who come here oftentimes are highly educated and are looking to not only learn more but also share the knowledge they have," Ritschel said.

This fall, the program has revamped its book discussion group, called Novel Ideas, to focus solely on the work of local authors. The Steamboat Springs area is home to at least 50 published authors, Swartz said, and at least three of them will lead Novel Ideas discussions, during which they will talk about their books' content and the writing and publishing processes.

"It's going to be a lot of fun to showcase our local authors," Swartz said.

Alpine Enrichment programs are open to the public, and all but one are free. Seminars and book discussions typically are held at 7 p.m. Wednesday evenings in Bogue Hall, Room 300, the Bryan King Room.

"It's a very comfortable atmosphere," Swartz said. "A lot of people, once they come, they continue to come."

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