This Fall, I am coordinating together with my colleague Calin Murgu the course “COVID-19: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Understanding the Pandemic.” The course explores thecurrent COVID-19 crisis from a variety of disciplinary perspectives that include biology, epidemiology, data science, history, politics, economics, sociology, literature, ethics, religion, arts, and more. The course will try to understand the aetiology (causes) and epidemiology (spread) of the virus, the various national and global responses to the pandemic, its dramatic economic and political consequences, the ways in which we gathered data, analyzed it, and visualize it in order to understand the magnitude of the pandemic, the ways in which wealth, class, and race had an effect in the responses to the pandemic, and the way in which information (and misinformation) spread like the virus itself. The course will also explore the history of pandemics (from the black plague of the 14th century, to the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the 80s), the rise of the germ theory of disease, the development of public health policies to respond to pandemics, ethical issues surrounding the response to a health crisis, the effects of religion in cultural, and personal responses to the virus, and the way in which art and literature have portrayed pandemics.
The class will also have a companion website that will include all of the materials and resources used in the class, which we hope will serve not only as a resource to understand the pandemic but also as a time-capsule of how we dealt and tried to make sense of this global crisis at this very particular time.
Students will also learn how to use a series of digital tools such as Juxtapose, Soundcite, Storyline, StoryMap, Timeline, Flourish, and DataWrapper that will help them process, analyze, visualize, and tell the story of how this crisis unfolded.
The course is coordinated by me and Digital Humanities Librarian Cal Murgu, and will be taught by a wide range of faculty members of New College, as well as invited speakers.