Mere days after the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, while the country was still in shock and mourning, Centre’s faculty were already drawing on their expertise to offer an academic perspective to this very emotional topic, helping to bring clarity to their students through education.
Rising to the challenge once again, faculty from across multiple disciplines have designed the COVID-19 Signature Series, courses created to give students the opportunity to assess this current global crisis from a variety of perspectives. As it currently stands, the Series includes the contribution of 29 members of the faculty, who are offering 27 new or revised courses related to COVID-19.
Topics include the genetics of the coronavirus and the chemistry of drug development for COVID-19, the implications of the pandemic for financial models, education, and the health care system, international perspectives on public health, and religious and artistic responses to the pandemic. There also will be opportunities for independent research courses related to COVID-19.
Robyn Cutright, Charles T. Hazelrigg Associate Professor of Anthropology and interim director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, was a member of the faculty team that designed the framework for the series.
“What I think is really exciting about this series is how it will help students understand what they’ve been experiencing since COVID-19 began to spread globally,” says Cutright. “Everyone’s life has been touched in some way by the pandemic, and these classes will offer a way to explore and analyze these impacts.
“One of the goals of a liberal arts education like Centre’s is not just to teach facts, but to equip students to be lifelong learners by giving them tools to think about the world,” Cutright continues. “By focusing courses across the college on the coronavirus pandemic, we are modeling how each disciplinary perspective offers a way to understand the world around them in a different way.”
Jean Faye will introduce students to global health issues, exploring various microbes that cause infectious diseases, and learning definitions pertinent to epidemiology and host-parasite relationships, as well as emerging and re-emerging diseases long thought gone, controlled, or eradicated; Jennifer Muzyka will focus her physical organic chemistry course on medicinal chemistry to better understand drug development for COVID-19; Amy Frederick’s art history class will examine the visual arts as a significant element in addressing injustice in times of global stress, such as the pandemic; Christian Wood’s upper-level French course will explore the world’s perspective on 2020, COVID-19, and life beyond; Chris Faulkner will draw from the fields of political science, economics, epidemiology, history, sociology, and others, to engage students in the challenges and responses to the pandemic; and newcomer to Centre’s faculty Chelsea Ebin will address the urgency surrounding questions of religious freedom, privacy, and equal protection rights due to the extreme measures implemented in response to the pandemic.
Find a description of all the COVID-19 Signature Series courses.
Jonathan Earle, associate professor of history and chair of the African and African American Studies Program, was also a vital part of the faculty team who brought their expertise to designing the Series.
“In this Signature Series, we wanted to showcase the power of liberal arts education to explore complicated, real-world problems,” Earle says. “Students have a unique opportunity to think about COVID-19, and the world that we wish to imagine moving forward, through multiple disciplinary lenses.
“This is when a liberal arts education is critically important,” he continues. “Through personalized learning, we can restructure quickly to provide a learning opportunity for our students that is second-to-none.”
by Cindy Long
May 15, 2020