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

We know that the coronavirus pandemic has made your college choice process more complex, in part because you may not have had the chance to come to campus and meet our faculty in person. We’re offering all admitted students the opportunity to get to know some of our acclaimed faculty by actually taking a course with them and to get a jump-start at earning college credit (for free!) at the same time.

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

A one credit, pass/fail Whitman College course

COVID-19 has touched our natural, social and human worlds in profound and unprecedented ways. To understand the massive and complex effects of this global pandemic requires tools that draw from multiple perspectives. Taught by experts from disciplines across the college, this course will introduce you to many different facets of COVID-19, pushing you to think about the interconnections between the sciences, the social sciences and the humanities in helping make sense of a global crisis of such magnitude.

To earn credit, you will complete the following by May 31:

  • Watch seven recorded lectures. With more than 21 lectures (listed below) across a range of subject areas, you can focus on areas that are of particular interest to you. Gain the broadest perspective by choosing lectures that span the natural sciences, mathematics, social sciences, humanities and the arts.
  • For each lecture, respond to a discussion prompt. Each lecture will have a companion discussion board where you will post at least one response after watching the lecture. Feel free to participate more if you desire! Current Whitman students will moderate and engage with your comments.
  • Keep a daily journal while you take the course. This is a self-directed ungraded assignment to help you reflect on the unprecedented time in which we are living and make sense of the changes around you.
  • Write an integrative essay. Whether you agree, disagree or fall somewhere in between, you’ll write three pages about the prompt: "Life after COVID-19 will return to normal." You’ll have a chance to bring together what you’ve learned from three (or more!) of the lectures to answer this question in a three-page paper. You will receive feedback on this essay.

Lecture Topics and Faculty

  • 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)
  • Islam in North America and the Challenge of COVID-19 (Lauren Osborne, assistant professor of religion)
  • 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)
  • 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))
  • 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)