Topics: Teachers College, College of Sciences and Humanities, Immersive Learning, College of Communication Information and Media

September 8, 2010

Ball State University's Institute for Education and Entertainment (IDEE) in cooperation with the Center for Middletown Studies will premiere "Changing Gears: End of an Era" at 6 p.m. Sept. 14 at AMC Showplace 12. The public is invited to attend this free event. Reservations are required and can be made by e-mailing or by calling 765-285-7421.

The feature-length documentary is about the impact and significance of the April 2009 closing of Muncie's BorgWarner plant, formerly Warner Gear. The purpose of the film is to examine a much wider phenomenon — the process of deindustrialization in Muncie and the Midwest.

"There is a long tradition of using Muncie in that fashion," said Jim Connolly, director of the Center for Middletown Studies. "It has been the subject of study for social scientists since the 1920s as ‘Middletown,' an ordinary American community."

Students, faculty and film professionals collaborated to produce "Changing Gears" as part of an immersive learning project examining the impact of deindustrialization. Connolly and Rodger Smith, director of IDEE, organized the project, and Justin Jones, an IDEE project supervisor, directed the film. Fifteen students completed historical research, interviewed workers, logged footage and edited the final material. 

"We think we've captured an important moment in this community's history and put it in some historical context," said Connolly. "We are excited to see how people in the community, and particularly the people who worked at BorgWarner, respond to it." 

BorgWarner's closing ended the era of large-scale, union-based manufacturing in Muncie. At one time, BorgWarner housed nearly 6,000 employees who crafted World War II jeeps, Chevrolet Corvettes and Ford F-150 trucks.

By Kenzie Grob