A graduate student conducts research in a lab while practicing social distancing.

The Pandemic: Science and Society

Undergraduates across Washington University are invited to experience a three-week immersion course that delves into the intersecting aspects of life during a pandemic.

About the Course

Explore the myriad ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives through this unique two-credit intersession course led by Krista Milich, assistant professor of biological anthropology. The course will showcase the expertise of faculty from across the university and from institutions and organizations throughout the country. Featured speakers currently include David Wang (WashU School of Medicine) on the science of the virus; Shanti Parikh (Arts & Sciences) on cultural perspectives and the stigmas of testing; Heather Bennett (Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts) on empathy and the pandemic's impact on the arts; Pauline Kim (WashU Law) on employment law and the pandemic's effects on essential workers; Joshua Sharfstein (The Johns Hopkins University) on leadership and management in a public health crisis; Chancellor Andrew D. Martin on COVID-19's impact on higher education; and many other local and national experts.

Each day we encounter an overwhelming amount of information on the pandemic, and the public is often unable to interpret its meaning and significance. How are individuals, groups, businesses, and governments grappling with this information? What impact does it all have on our lives? This class will help provide perspective so that students can understand the effects of the pandemic, of public policy, and the importance of health and science literacy. In addition to evaluating and interpreting scientific information, students will be encouraged to hone their skills at communicating health and science information with the public.

This two-credit, three-week intersession course will take place August 17 - September 4, 2020, and is open to all WashU undergraduate students at any level and from any school. No additional tuition will be charged assuming the student is enrolled full time. These units will be included in the 21 unit maximum allowed by regular semester tuition, and students may audit the course.

Please note: For this intersession course, the last day to add the course is August 19, 2020; the last day to drop without a "W" is August 21; last day to withdraw from course is August 31; the last day to change grade option is September 4. Students may add or drop the course themselves through WebSTAC through August 17. After this date, students should request that the change be made manually in the College of Arts & Sciences. To do this, please contact Registrar Marissa Kaltwasser.

Questions? Contact covidcourse@wustl.edu for answers.

Biology professors demonstrate social distancing while wearing t-shirts referencing the Covid pandemic,

Course Logistics

Credit

L48 Anthro 3135 is a 2-credit course, and it may be taken for a grade, as pass-fail, or audited. This course meets the Social and Behavioral Sciences (SSC) requirement.

Eligibilty

The course is open to all WashU undergraduate students at any level, and from any school. The course will be taught remotely with no in-person component. There is no cap on enrollment.

Tuition

Although the course is taken in the summer, it will be included on a student’s Fall 2020 schedule. No additional tuition will be charged assuming the student is enrolled full time. These units will be included in the 21 unit maximum allowed by regular semester tuition.

Course Overview

The three-week course is organized in three sections:

  • The first section of the course will focus on the virus and illness itself: the scientific classification, possible treatments and vaccines, testing, safety measures, at-risk groups and health outcomes for different groups, and understanding the numbers. This section will incorporate lessons on how to interpret and evaluate scientific information, how the information gets communicated to the public, and how it gets incorporated into policy.

  • The second section will start to integrate connections to society at large, including health disparities, understanding how environmental destruction and agricultural systems are related to disease outbreaks, global connections, racism and COVID-19, and variation in effectiveness of dealing with the virus in different countries.

  • The final section will cover how the pandemic intersects with different aspect of our lives including finance, law, mental health, education, domestic violence, the arts, and on and on. Students will hear experts in these areas discuss how COVID-19 has changed virtually every aspect of life as we know it, how we can mitigate these effects, and what the future looks like.
     

Course Requirements

The goal of this course is to explore big-picture messages and engage with the information, not to memorize specific facts, and course assignments will reflect this goal. Requirements include:

  • A short introductory assignment, 12 comprehension quizzes (5-10 multiple choice-style questions focusing on the main take-home messages), 4 communication assignments (details below), and a short essay (~500 words) reflecting on the experience and what you've learned.

  • Communication assignments will include two short exercises (e.g., sharing a fact you learned from the lectures) and two more substantial pieces (e.g., informational flyer, data visualization, or informative video).

  • Daily “reading” assignments will include some scientific articles, news clips, and podcasts.

Speakers

Additional speakers will be added as the course schedule is finalized. 

 

Penina Acayo Laker

Penina Acayo Laker, MFA, (Washington University in St. Louis, Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts) is a designer and educator whose work and research are centered around topics that utilize a human-centered approach to solving social problems. She will discuss health communication, effective messaging, and global perspectives. Acayo Laker's lecture is now available online (Aug. 20, session 4).
 

Fenaba Addo

Fenaba Addo, PhD, (Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin, Madison, School of Human Ecology) examines debt and wealth inequality with a focus on family and relationships and higher education, and union formation and economic strain as a social determinant of health and well-being. She is also focused on the role that consumer and family policies serve in reinforcing these relationships. She will discuss wealth disparities and COVID. Addo's lecture is now available online (Aug. 31, session 11).

 

Heather Bennett

Heather Bennett, MFA, (Washington University in St. Louis, Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts) is a visual artist living and working in St. Louis. She will discuss disruption in the Arts related to COVID and the importance of empathy. Bennett's lecture is now available online (Sept. 1, session 12).

 

Ali Ellebedy

Ali Ellebedy, PhD, (Washington University School of Medicine, Department of Pathology & Immunology) studies B cell responses to viral infection and vaccination. He will discuss immunity and therapeutic interventions against SARS-CoV-2. Ellebedy's lecture is now available online (Sept. 2, session 11).

 

Colin EnnisColin Ennis

Colin Ennis, PsyD, (Private Practice) is a licensed clinical psychologist working with adults and adolescents. Committed to social justice, Ennis has presented nationally on the intersection of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, immigrant and child of immigrant status. He will discuss mental health during COVID and LGBTQ+ concerns. Ennis's lecture is now available online (Aug. 31, session 11).
 

Utibe Essien

Utibe Essien, MD, MPH, (University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine) is a health services researcher who conducts research on racial/ethnic health disparities with a specific focus on the use of novel therapeutics and technologies in the management of chronic diseases and understanding mechanisms by which differences exist in their uptake and diffusion. He will discuss health disparities and practicing medicine in the age of COVID. Essien's lecture is now available online (Aug. 25, session 7).
 

Patrick Fowler

Patrick Fowler, PhD, (Washington University in St. Louis, Brown School) researches ways to prevent homelessness and its deleterious effects on child, family, and community well-being. He will discuss homelessness and evictions during the COVID pandemic. Fowler's lecture is now available online (Aug. 26, session 8).

 

Harvey Galler

Harvey Galler

Harvey Galler (Washington University in St. Louis, Prison Education Project) is a PEP alumnus (Class of 2019) and Maggie Garb Leadership Award recipient. He is currently working towards a Bachelor of Political Science with a concentration in public policy, interns for PEP, and co-chairs the reentry committee. He will be speaking on COVID-19 and incarceration. Galler's lecture is now available online (Sept. 3, session 14).
 

Jose-Luis Jimenez

Jose-Luis Jimenez, PhD, (University of Colorado, Boulder) researches the development and application of advanced instrumentation for real-time, quantitative measurements of the size, chemical composition, and morphology of submicron aerosols. He will discuss aerosol transmission of COVID-19. Jimenez's lecture is now available online (Aug. 18, session 2).
 

Shanna Kattari

Shanna Kattari, PhD, MEd, CSE, ACS, (University of Michigan) researches how power, privilege, and oppression systematically marginalize, exclude and discriminate against people regarding their identities/expressions through negative attitudes, policies reinforcing oppression, oppressive actions, and isolation. She will discuss impact of COVID on disability/ableism and on trans and nonbinary people. Kattari's lecture is now available online (Aug. 27, session 9).
 

Pauline Kim

Pauline Kim, JD, (Washington University School of Law) is a nationally recognized expert on the law of the workplace and has written widely on issues such as job security, employee privacy, employment discrimination, and the effects of technology on the employment relationship. She will discuss the impact of COVID on workers and the workplace. Kim's lecture is now available online (Aug. 28, session 10).

 

Phoenix (Kerrie) Lintner

Phoenix (Kerrie) Lintner (Safe Connections) is a COVID-19 Crisis Counselor at Safe Connections, a St. Louis non-profit that reduces the impact and incidence of domestic and sexual violence through youth education, 24-hour crisis care, and therapy for adult and teen survivors. She will discuss intimate partner violence and safety during COVID lockdowns. Lintner's lecture is now available online (Sept. 2, session 13).

 

Julia López

Julia López, PhD, MPH, LCSW, (Washington University School of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases) addresses gaps in research and clinical practices in the areas of sexual and gender minority health, racial disparities, HIV care, and women’s health. She will discuss health disparities and concerns for Spanish-speaking, Latin, and immigrant communities during COVID-19. López's lecture is now available online (Aug. 17, session 1).

Andrew D. Martin

Andrew D. Martin, PhD, (Washington University in St. Louis) is Chancellor and Professor of Political Science and Law at Washington University in St. Louis. Throughout his career, Chancellor Martin has contributed widely to the areas of judicial politics, quantitative political methodology, empirical legal studies, and applied statistics, with attention paid specifically to U.S. Supreme Court decision making. He will discuss higher education during the COVID pandemic, including considerations for both now and the future. Martin's lecture is now available online (Sept. 4, session 15).
 

Kareem Martin

Kareem Martin

Kareem Martin, AA, PEP Alumnus, (Washington University in St. Louis) was the first graduation speaker for the WashU Prison Education Project. He will discuss incarceration and COVID-19. 
 

 

Krista Milich

Krista Milich, PhD, (Washington University in St. Louis, Department of Anthropology) is a biological anthropologist who studies how both the natural and social environment can impact behaviors, physiology, and health. She will discuss conservation and the environment, linking zoonotic diseases to destruction of the environment. Millich's lecture is now available online (Aug. 25, session 7).
 

Robin Nelson

Robin Nelson

Robin Nelson, PhD, (Santa Clara University) is a biological anthropologist who utilizes evolutionary theory in studies of human sociality and health outcomes. She will discuss child development and working families. Nelson's lecture is now available online (Sept. 3, session 14).

 

Alvitta Ottley

Alvitta Ottley (Washington University in St. Louis, McKelvey School of Engineering) studies user behavior, individual differences, and personalized health risk communication. Her current research interests include information visualization, human-computer interaction, and visual analytics. She will discuss information visualization on a panel about effective health messaging. Ottley's lecture is now available online (Aug. 20, session 4).
 

Sarah Paige

Sarah Paige, MPH, PhD, (CORE Group) is an experienced senior infectious disease advisor, with a successful track record working for companies in the public health, international development, and education sector. She will discuss testing, tracing, and global perspectives on COVID-19. Paige's lecture is now available online (Aug. 19, session 3).

 

Shanti Parikh

Shanti Parikh

Shanti Parikh, PhD, (Washington University, Department of Anthropology and Department of African and African American Studies) is a medical anthropologist who has conducted research on sexuality, gender, race, HIV, and risk for over 25 years. She will discuss the stigma of testing and how community perspectives on COVID-19 are entangled with histories of distrust, inequalities, and ethics debates. Parikh's lecture is now available online (Aug. 24, session 6).
 

Jaszmine Parks

Jaszmine Parks, BA, (Safe Connections) is the crisis and community education manager at Safe Connections, a St. Louis non-profit that reduces the impact and incidence of domestic and sexual violence through youth education, 24-hour crisis care, and therapy for adult and teen survivors. She will discuss intimate partner violence and safety during COVID lockdowns. Parks's lecture is now available online (Sept. 2, session 13).
 

Rachel Penczykowski

Rachel Penczykowski, PhD, (Washington University in St. Louis, Department of Biology) is broadly interested in the ecology and evolution of host-parasite interactions and how ecological context affects the risk of infection and consequences of disease for hosts. She will discuss how to understand the numbers of the COVID pandemic. Penczykowski's lecture is now available online (Aug. 24, session 6).
 

Tania Schlatter

Tania Schlatter, MDes, (Harvard University) is a user experience and user interface designer, educator, and author who is equally interested in content, form, and people. She will discuss her role developing icons – and their role in conveying important data back to the user – for Harvard’s opt-in contact tracing app. Schlatter's lecture is now available online (Aug. 20, session 4).

 

Joshua Sharfstein

Joshua Sharfstein, PhD, (The Johns Hopkins University) is Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement, director of the Bloomberg American Health Initiative, and Professor of the Practice in Health Policy and Management. He will discuss leadership and management in a public health crisis. Sharfstein's lecture is now available online (Aug. 21, session 5).
 

Yongseok Shin

Yongseok Shin, PhD, (Washington University in St. Louis, Department of Economics) is an economist whose research focuses on macroeconomics and economic growth. He will discuss evidence showing that the virus, not the lockdowns, is leading to economic issues. Shin's lecture is now available online (Sept. 1, session 12).

 

David Wang

David Wang, PhD, (Washington University School of Medicine, Department of Pathology & Immunology) researches the interface of molecular and cellular virology, genomics, and bioinformatics with the overall goal of exploiting novel viruses to elucidate fundamental biological processes and the etiologies of human disease. He will discuss zoonotic diseases, novel viruses, and SARS-CoV-2. Wang's lecture is now available online (Aug. 18, session 2).
 

Siobhan Wescott

Siobhan Wescott

Siobhan Wescott, MD, MPH (Assistant Director, Indians Into Medicine, University of North Dakota) is a graduate of Harvard Medical School and national advocate for increasing the number of Native Americans in healthcare. Wescott's lecture is now available online (Aug. 26, session 8).

 

Ed Yong

Ed Yong

Ed Yong is a science journalist for The Atlantic. His work is also featured in National Geographic, Wired, Nature, and Scientific American, among other publications. His first book, I Contain Multitudes, looks at the partnerships between animals and microbes. He has contributed some of the most important public pieces of writing on COVID to date.  He will speak on science communication. Yong's lecture is now available online (Aug. 19, session 3).
 

Jeffrey Zacks

Jeffrey Zacks, PhD, (Washington University in St. Louis, Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences) studies how the representations in the brain and the world work together in cognition using behavioral experiments, functional MRI, computational modeling, and testing of neurological patients. He will discuss how people understand processes like pandemic growth when learning from graphs, tables, and descriptions. Zacks's lecture is now available online (Aug. 21, session 5).