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Summer 2020 has some special summer session course offerings.  See below for current and new course listings you may find of interest. 

View the listings on the Incoming FYR page.  These courses are now open to all JMU students.

COVID-19 in Perspective

The Coronavirus pandemic has been posing a serious challenge to people in the United States and all around the world.  UN Secretary General António Guterres has described it as the biggest global challenge since WWII, while other prognosticators have offered up comparisons as widespread as the fall of the Roman empire and the 1918 flu. While scientists wrestle with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, the challenges go far beyond medicine to reach deeply into the areas of socio-economics and politics, as well as moral values and public communication. Coming to terms with this pandemic will require us to understand today’s medical, social, and economic choices.  Past pandemic experiences can help with this.  Pandemics also lay bare the fundamental problems in a society, and therefore, point to the ways our society needs to heal after the pandemic ends.

 In this course, our faculty team will use our combined expertise to offer perspective and understanding about COVID-19 as an infectious disease.  Student learning will be cross-disciplinary, and the main learning goal of this course is that students will acquire the content and skills for a complex understanding of one of the largest global challenges in the past century. Students will learn about COVID-19 from different perspectives, including history, epidemiology, ethics, and rhetoric and communication. 

Specifically, students will consider the history of infectious disease and the public health management of such diseases. Students will also learn about the varied epidemiological insights relevant to public policy questions around COVID-19 from the point of view of health sciences. Students will be familiarized with important ethical concepts and theories in order to better appreciate the ethical and social implications of this global public health challenge. Lastly, students will assess the role language plays in discussing health and illness and how those discussions subsequently shape our understanding and response to disease.

For students, we offer the following brief information in the online course catalog and in advertising on Twitter and other forums:

Freaked out by finding yourself isolated at home, learning new terms like ‘social distancing’ and ‘flattening the curve’?  Wonder how infectious diseases such as COVID-19 work in the body?  How they spread - and spread so quickly?  What are ethical approaches to balancing the needs of individuals and societies in the face of COVID19?  How can we understand the pitfalls of varied societal responses by considering past epidemics, such as plagues, flu outbreaks, smallpox, and cholera?  How do epidemics reshape societies?  How does how we talk about these challenges shape how we respond?  If you want some context to understand what is happening all around us, join us for this course!

This course is crosslisted as: CHEM 280, HTH 391, HIST 341, PHIL 103, WRTC 426

The course will also count for the IdLS major and the minors in medical humanities, and science and technology in society.

The faculty who are teaching are Pia Antolic-Piper (Philosophy), Christopher Berndsen (Biochemistry), Rebecca Brannon (History), Audrey Burnett (Health Sciences), Michael Klein (WRTC).  You will note we represent three different colleges and five departments—a wide variety of perspectives. 

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