Mancos Public Library will host a free government course

Starting Wednesday evening, the Mancos Public Library will host a free four-part class on American government and civics.

“American Government Primer,” taught by Crested Butte attorney Sarah Coleman, will be live-streamed at the library starting 6 p.m. each Wednesday. Coleman said it will focus on three themes: federalism, the branches of government and how the government interacts with individuals. Each class will be open to the public.

This is the third time Coleman has taught the course in Gunnison County, but this will be her first time broadcasting it to other libraries. Mancos will be one of about half a dozen libraries to receive the livestream from the Crested Butte Library.

Coleman said she was inspired to teach the course after the 2014 midterm elections, when only about 30 percent of eligible U.S. voters went to the polls. She said she believed many voters held misconceptions about the way government and elections worked, and she created the course to help combat those misconceptions.

“Over the past year, year and a half, there’s been an upwelling of people being interested in politics,” she said. “But people don’t always have the information to engage the government with confidence.”

She said the course is designed to proved a “30,000-foot view” of the federal and state government. It will cover the ways states interact with the federal government, how each branch of government balances the other, and how individual citizens can become involved in those processes. Since Coleman’s background is in law, she said she will approach these topics mainly from a legal perspective. She said she hoped the course would provide context for political issues people see in the news and empower them to be more involved in their government.

The library’s adult program coordinator, Shari Dunn, said she “just about jumped out of (her) chair” when she saw Coleman was offering to broadcast the course.

“I believe there is a dearth of knowledge among people about how government does work,” she said.

Coleman said this month’s course will be a “pilot” for future livestreams. If it’s successful, she said she hopes to expand to more libraries in the future.

The classes will be offered on Jan. 3, 10, 17 and 31. Coleman said people are welcome to attend any or all of them.