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EMU hosts free summer course: ‘Imagining the Future after COVID-19’

(© alexandra –

What will a post-pandemic world look like? How is COVID-19 affecting each of us differently, and what are our responsibilities to one another in the face of those disparities? What do we know about the biology of the virus? And are there things that are changing for the better because of this crisis?

A free seven-week online course offered at Eastern Mennonite University this summer will delve into those questions and more. Community members are welcome.

The course meets each Tuesday evening beginning June 30 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. for seven weeks, with a different pair or trio of professors leading each class to provide questions and reflections from a variety of academic fields.

The course is co-led by language and literature professor Kevin Seidel and chemistry professor Laurie Yoder.

“What pulled me in at first was the possibility of teaching with faculty from all three schools – sciences, social sciences, and humanities – talking together and learning from one another about the virus,” Seidel said.

When the pandemic hit, he started fervently gathering information and perspective: from scientists, from fictive literature, and from poetry, trying to make sense of “this strange new world.”

Yoder is looking forward to “bringing together students, faculty, staff, and community members for conversation around a topic that is so relevant in our lives,” she said. “I believe that the EMU community has a unique perspective that can speak into our world and I look forward to what emerges from this conversation.”

Week 1 | June 30, Tuesday, 6:30–8:30pm

Treating COVID-19

What do we know about the biology of COVID-19? What’s next in vaccine development? What public health measures are working to slow the spread of COVID-19?

Kristopher Schmidt, Associate Professor of Biology

Kate Clark, Assistant Professor of Nursing

Week 2 | July 7, Tuesday, 6:30–8:30pm

Pandemic History and Data

What can we learn from past pandemics about life after this one? What can we learn from visual presentations of data about the pandemic?

Mary Sprunger, Professor of History

Daniel Showalter, Associate Professor of Mathematics

Week 3 | July 14, Tuesday, 6:30–8:30pm

Politics and Collective Trauma

Why has the U.S. response to COVID-19 been so contentious and uneven? What is collective trauma and what might it have to do with that response?

Mark Metzler Sawin, Professor of History

Ryan Thompson, Assistant Professor of Psychology

Trina Trotter Nussbaum, Associate Director, Center for Interfaith Engagement

Week 4 | July 21, Tuesday, 6:30–8:30pm

Zoonotic Viruses, Wet Markets, and the Economics of COVID-19

Where do coronaviruses come from? What are the links between environmental degradation and pandemics? What does COVID-19 have to teach us about how our economy is connected to the natural world? What are the economic impacts from a pandemic?

Jim Yoder, Professor of Biology

Jim Leaman, Associate Professor of Business and Leadership

Week 5 | July 28, Tuesday, 6:30–8:30pm

Our Life with Animals, Our Life with God

Why are so many people taking refuge in nature during the pandemic? Why is that refuge harder to come by for some people? What do the scriptures say about how our life with God is related to our life with animals?

Steven Johnson, Professor of Visual and Communication Arts

Andrea Saner, Associate Professor of Old Testament

Week 6 | August 4, Tuesday, 6:30–8:30pm

Systemic Racism in the U.S. before and after COVID-19

Why has COVID-19 hit African-Americans harder than other groups? Why does rural Navajo Nation have the highest infection rates in the country?

Jenni Holsinger, Associate Professor of Sociology

Matt Tibbles, Teaching Fellow, Applied Social Sciences

Jim Yoder, Professor of Biology

Week 7 | August 11, Tuesday, 6:30–8:30pm

Resilience, Repair, and Transformation after COVID-19

How do we carry forward what we’ve learned about COVID-19, trauma, and restorative justice?

Johonna Turner, Assistant Professor of Restorative Justice and Peacebuilding

Katie Mansfield, Lead Trainer, Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience (STAR)

augusta free press
augusta free press