COVID-19: A Liberal Arts Approach to the Study of a Global Pandemic

Amazing Professors. Fascinating Lectures. A Truly Unique Learning Experience.

COVID-19: A Liberal Arts Approach to the Study of a Global Pandemic was created in the spring of 2020 as a special one-credit course for Whitman College’s newly admitted students, offering them an opportunity to get to know our distinguished faculty and to study a significant event in human history.

We would now like to offer these lectures to the public — for any student, parent or community member who is interested in an in-depth look at the current pandemic. For educators who are interested in using these lectures as part of a formal or informal curriculum, we are providing the original course syllabus so you can see the context in which these were originally offered.

Developed by experts from disciplines across the college, this lecture series explores many different facets of COVID-19 — helping us make sense of a global crisis of such magnitude.

Browse the Lectures

Environmental Lessons from Historical Pandemics
Jakobina Arch, assistant professor of history

COVID-19 and the Nature of Mental Illness
Tom Armstrong, assistant professor of psychology

Infectious Intolerance: How the Association of Disease with Foreigners Made the U.S. Immigration System What It Is Today, From Chinese Exclusion to the “Chinese Virus”
Aaron Bobrow-Strain, professor of politics

Not Just Social Distancing: Distancing from the Poor During COVID-19 
Melissa Clearfield, professor of psychology

“Middle Class Quarantine” and Essential Workers: Inequality and COVID-19
Alissa Cordner, associate professor of sociology and Garrett Fellow

Video Calls Are Not the Same as “Face to Face,” Are They? How Technology May Impact Intimate Relationships During COVID-19 
Michelle Janning, professor of sociology and The Raymond and Elsie Gipson DeBurgh Chair of Social Science

COVID-19 Clues: Where is the Next Hot Spot?
Amy Molitor, senior adjunct assistant professor of environmental studies and sport studies, environmental studies co-director

“Our History is Repeating Itself”: Pandemics, Indigenous Peoples, and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation 
Chuck Sams, communications director, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation; Stan Thayne, visiting assistant professor of environmental studies and politics

‘No Man Is an Island’: Contagion, Community, and Writing in Early Modern England 
Theresa DiPasquale, Gregory M. Cowan professor of English language and literature

Mediating the Virus 
Tarik Elseewi, assistant professor of film and media studies

The New “Not Normal”: An Existential Analysis 
Julia Ireland, associate professor of German studies and philosophy

The Role of the Medical Interpreter During a Pandemic Outbreak 
Nico Parmley, associate professor of Hispanic studies

Trauma and the Imagination in Viral Times 
Nicole Simek, Cushing Eells professor of philosophy and literature; professor of foreign languages and literatures (French) and interdisciplinary studies

Dhamma, Disruption, and Defense: Covid-19 in Buddhist Perspective and Practice
Jonathan Walters, George Hudson Ball endowed chair in the humanities and professor of religion

Against Market Solutions: The Politics of COVID-19
Zahi Zalloua, professor of foreign languages and literatures (French) and interdisciplinary studies

Flatten What Curve? A Physicist’s Introduction to the Math of Pandemics
Moira Gresham, associate professor of physics

Air Travel in the Pandemic, CO2 emissions, and Fuel Usage: Asking the Right Questions
Fred Moore, professor of physics

The Problem of Predicting the Future: A COVID-19 Case Study 
Albert Schueller, Mina Schwabacher professor of mathematics

How Did COVID-19 Hack Our Entry Code? Making Sense of a Novel Virus in the Light of Evolution
Chris Wallace, Dr. Robert F. Welty associate professor of biology

Molecular Testing for COVID-19: Why Are TWO Tests Essential for Slowing the Transmission of the Virus?
Jim Russo, associate professor of biochemistry, biophysics, and molecular biology (BBMB)