One of the great benefits of the WGBY Collection at the Springfield Library is that it includes a number of WGBY documentaries available on loan. The Radical Idea: UMass Amherst & America’s Education Revolution is a local production about Western Massachusetts’ history.
Coming in just under an hour, this co-production between WGBY and the University investigates Western Mass’ role in the founding of America’s public colleges. A piece of groundbreaking legislation, the Morrill Act, revolutionized American higher education and led to the founding of many public colleges, including UMass Amherst. These “land grant” schools made college accessible to poor and middle class men, women and people of color. Following the course of American history, The Radical Idea explores how UMass Amherst has evolved over the years.
As an Education student and as someone who lives in the area, I was fascinated by this film. As the price for a college education rises, understanding this history becomes more and more important for anyone invested in this system.