Central College News

Central Offers Special Pandemic Summer Course for Students

Featured: Central Offers Special Pandemic Summer Course for Students

April 30, 2020

Central College will offer two special remote courses in the summer of 2020 about the COVID-19 pandemic — one for incoming first-year students and another for current students.

In both 11-week courses, titled An Interdisciplinary Conversation on COVID-19, students will have the opportunity to study the pandemic from a transdisciplinary approach. The courses will be team-taught by almost 20 faculty and staff members across campus from 12 different departments, each providing their own lens of expertise.

“These courses exemplify Central’s novel response to the coronavirus,” says Mary E.M. Strey, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty. “The pandemic has created havoc worldwide, altering education, employment, economies and global interaction. At Central, the pandemic meant we needed to send our students home in mid-March. Because we needed to pivot to remote learning, students newly enrolled for this fall lost opportunities to come to campus for visits, to meet faculty and to sit in on a class. And current students missed many spring traditions and connections.

“The new courses are an academic answer to these unusual times. They will give new students an early introduction to Central’s dynamic and talented faculty and keep our current students connected with their professors and fellow students,” Strey adds.

Through weekly class meetings with faculty, readings and discussions, students will examine the history of pandemics, the science of COVID-19, how to map the spread of the disease and the economics of the pandemic. Other class sessions will focus on pandemics in poetry and music, as well as international responses to the global challenge. Students in both courses will have an opportunity to provide their own reflections at the end of the course.

The course is free to all current students, as well as new incoming students for Fall 2020 and includes academic credit.

“The courses will give students access to our exceptional faculty while also allowing them to explore the pandemic from their own discipline,” says Brian Peterson, associate dean for curriculum and faculty development who led the planning and organization of the innovative course. “This is what Central does well: providing students with the skills to understand complex problems from many perspectives to prepare them to be global citizens. This undertaking truly demonstrates the relevance a liberal arts education can bring to historical developments like the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Central faculty members collaborating on the courses teach in biology, chemistry, economics, education, exercise science, English, French, German, history, mathematics and computer science, music, philosophy and physics. The classes also include directors of the college’s writing and sustainability programs, as well as Central’s study abroad program in Vienna, Austria. Details about the class are available at central.edu/covid19-class.

ABOVE: Central College Associate Professor of Biology Paul Weihe is one of almost 20 faculty and staff members collaborating to teach a special remote summer course for Central students about the coronavirus pandemic. The class Weihe will teach focuses on how environmental change and human activity affect the spread of pandemics.