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History Major Focused on Shays’ Rebellion for Digital History Course


Shane VociNew graduate Shane Voci ’17 originally was drawn to MCLA by its teaching program, but instead found history to be the best fit. “I have always loved history: there is something appealing in learning about different time periods and cultures, to see something so alien to our own world, and to learn about how people – who are no different than you or I – lived,” he said.

As part of his final semester, he – along with Anthony Corbett ’17 – completed a COPLAC (Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges) digital course in “Conflicts in America: Case Studies in Peace-Making,” taught remotely by professors at Georgia College in Milledgeville, Ga., and the University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha, Okla.

As it explored the subject of conflict resolution in local, historical contexts, the course included a requirement to create a website – something Voci had never done before, but felt would be a great experience. Students were required to identify and research a case study of conflict resolution from their own communities. Voci, who was born in Pittsfield, Mass., and raised in nearby Adams, Mass., opted to focus on Shays’ Rebellion because “it was just such an important piece of history and a completely Massachusetts-born conflict,” he explained.

Shays’ Rebellion refers to Revolutionary War veteran Daniel Shays, who, in 1786 to 1787, lead 4,000 rebels in an uprising against perceived economic and civil rights injustices.  

 “We really tried to highlight what worked to bring together a very divided Massachusetts, to ratify the Constitution,” Voci said. “With that, it also was important to show how the rebels were allowed to assimilate back into society. While it was anything but perfect, the conflict showed how it is possible to build a bridge between two sides, when each believes they are completely in the right, and the other is in the wrong.”

To include some context to what viewers of the website would learn from the study of Shays’ Rebellion, and because an understanding of The Articles of Confederation was vital, Voci included a web page that states what George Washington and Thomas Jefferson thought about the conflict. Both, he explained, had very different feelings about the rebellion.

 According to Voci, the most enjoyable aspect of the course was sharing the experience with a partner. “It also was neat to have a class where every group and the professors were all from different states,” he said. “The most challenging part was putting the website together.” Because this was a first for him, creating the website was one of the biggest impacts of the class.

For now, Voci plans to work, but graduate school may be in his future, to study library and archival science. His ultimate career might include becoming a film archivist, to combine his love of both film and history.

He recommends MCLA to others, including non-traditional students like himself. Voci worked some 30 or more hours each week throughout his college education. “The vast majority of professors I’ve had in my experience genuinely cared for their students and, also important, enjoyed the subjects they were teaching. It made for a great learning environment,” he said.