Featured Courses: Considering Epidemics in a time of COVID-19

How have we handled epidemics in the past? What tools can we use to think about COVID-19 right now?

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As you consider summer plans to make progress on your degree, we invite you to consider these courses that will help you work within our currently evolving situation. Visit SIS to enroll!



Patricia Princehouse

Evolution happens on many levels, from the smallest virus to the largest dinosaur, and perhaps even on other planets! Coronavirus, dinos and astrobiology are among the foci of this unique course and we will have a fun online lab on how epidemics spread. Periodic guest lectures by vaccine hunter Jurgen Bosch will give us an insider’s view of the current state of the pandemic and introduce us to the tools and techniques scientists are using to fight the outbreak.


ARTS 322: Digital Photography 1

Barney Taxel

Introduction of color and digital photography, creating compelling color digital photographs by incorporating correct workflow practices, historical perspectives and artistic principals in the time of the Coronavirus. Instruction via Zoom and Canvas. Tutorials, field work (photography), research in the history of the medium of color photography.


ENGL 285: Special Topics- Climate Change and Pandemic: Seeking Hope in the Dark

Dr. Matt Burkhart

This seminar explores the shared terrain between Climate Change films and writing (Cli-Fi) and cultural expressions that dramatize pandemics. While the common fare of Cli-Fi centers on speculative and dystopian fiction, this course also attends substantially to what Rebecca Solnit has framed as “hope in the dark” as she writes of “extraordinary communities that arise in disaster.” More than just a recipe for gloomy summer reading, this course invites participants to consider how we define our humanity–individually and collectively–as we envision consequential cultural, environmental, economic, and political paths to navigate global health crises.


HSTY 241: Inventing Public Health

Prof. John Broich

This course shows students the deep history of public health and especially epidemic responses. Along the way, participants will stop in ancient Greece, Victorian Britain, the world of 1918, all the way to today. Students will train at reading the connections between human bodies, political power, medical science, and public health infrastructures.


PHIL 310: Philosophy of Medicine
Chris Haufe
The current pandemic has brought into public view a broad range of philosophical questions connected with the practice of medicine. In this course, we will grapple with metaphysical, epistemological, ethical, social, and political questions that confront health workers, researchers, and policy makers in their efforts to maintain and improve human health on an individual and group level.


RLGN 171: Introduction to Christianity

Bharat Ranganathan

In this course, we will study historical, literary, and theological sources to become familiar with Christianity, learning the basic grammar of the Christian faith. We will learn how Christians have told the story of who God is, what God has done, what God is doing, and what God will do. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will especially consider Christian responses to theodicy: how do we reconcile God’s goodness and providence with the existence of evil and suffering?


RLGN 215: Religion in America

Brian Clites

This class asks contemporary questions about religion and culture, such as the role of religious protest during the Vietnam War, how America’s response to 9/11 was just as religious as the “jihadist” terrorism itself, and how pop culture icons like Lady Gaga and Game of Thrones have shifted younger Americans towards the identity of being “spiritual but not religious.” For this July term, we will also be adding a special unit on religion and medicine, which will allow us to ask questions about politics, faith, and ritual during the Covid-19 crisis. (Questions like: Why are churches still open during the stay-at-home order? And How do we mourn the death of loved ones when funerals are prohibited?)


SOCI 113: Critical Problems in Modern Society

Jessica Kelley

We examine the social conditions that harm some individuals or society as a whole, especially those related to social inequality and disadvantage. We do this through the lens of current events. Related to the social problems that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed in our society, course topics include: distinguishing fact, opinion, and “fake” news; social construction of the immigration threat and scapegoating; disproportionate risk of illness in race/ethnic minority populations and poor persons; the effect of social isolation and loneliness on health; and political efforts to erase voting rights.


SPAN 101M: Elementary Medical Spanish

Elena Fernandez

Introductory Spanish designed for (but not limited to) students in pre-health fields.  Students will be able to ask Spanish- speaking patients questions about COVID-19 symptoms and have a simple discussion about prevention and treatment.  After this course students will be able to take SPAN 102 .


USSO 293B: Epidemics and American Identity

Dr. Carli Leone

In this course we will examine three of the most devastating epidemics in American history: Yellow Fever in the 1790s, Spanish Flu in 1918, and HIV/AIDS in the 1980s. Using historical accounts as well as fictional representations, we will consider the social, medical, and governmental responses to the outbreaks and the subsequent effects on identity and the construction of “otherness.” Throughout the course, we will bear in mind our experience of COVID-19 and the impact it has had on our sense of self.