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PANDEMIC! A New Course at Northland College

The typical May term course at Northland College promotes field-based, experiential, and immersive learning as a way to focus on a particular topic, skill, or region.

However, nothing is typical about this year, and faculty pivoted—quickly. Northland announced a new course created specifically for these times—Pandemic! Northland Unites: A Collaborative Seminar on COVID-19 (IDS250).

Taught by 15 faculty, the course examined how various academic disciplines approach and understand the COVID-19 crisis. Fifty students registered the first day it opened.

“While most college and university campuses are teaching out the remainder of their terms with existing courses, May term provided an opportunity to creatively respond to current events,” said Dr. Dave Ullman, assistant professor of geoscience, who helped spearhead this course with a team of other faculty members.

As an added twist, this four-week course has been made freely available to the community through a special website and virtual discussion groups.

“After speaking with friends and family, we realized that it’s not just students who yearn to learn more deeply about the context for our current crisis,” Ullman said. “In response, we have created a course platform that can allow for the greater community to engage with us as well.”

Lessons included: history of pandemics, epidemiology of infectious disease, public health principles, biology of viruses, cost benefit analysis of social isolation, philosophy of hope and despair, public land use and changing recreation patters, and the poetry and music of pandemics.

“The recent coronavirus pandemic has led to large-scale societal disruption in a remarkably short period of time,” said Dr. Jessica Eckhardt, assistant professor of sociology. “Fully understanding the breadth of these impacts globally and locally requires a broad and enriched understanding of numerous disciplines.”