Peter Ubertaccio, dean of the May School of Arts & Sciences and Deb Salvucci, dean of the Meehan School of Business introduce Stonehill's free 1-credit course.

Course details

The course will be held on Tuesdays from 7-8:30 p.m. beginning June 23 and registration must be completed by Friday, June 19. It is not a graded course, rather it is designed to engage our incoming students over the summer.  We ask that students who sign up for the course participate in 7 out of 8 sessions in order to receive the course credit.


Each session will allow opportunities for students to hear from our faculty and current Stonehill students.  The only expectation for students in the course is that they sign into the session, listen, learn, and consider how they might engage.

Session 1: Biology and Biochemistry

June 23
This session will explore the biology of the SARS-CoV2 virus, including its structure, genetics, mechanism of infection, and evolution, as well as its origins.

Session 2: Art and Literature of Isolation: Surviving and Thriving Alone and Together

June 30
This session will explore the literature and aesthetics of isolation. From desert island castaways to utopic collectives, from forced solitude to the creative potential of boredom, there is a long and rich history of artists and authors finding inspiration in seclusion. Whether by choice or by circumstance, isolation offers a new perspective on everyday life, distorting and reconfiguring our ordinary sense of place and location. Together we will look at the relationship between creative expression and isolation. Our session will draw on an array of examples—from Robinson Crusoe to Animal Crossing, from contemporary art to student creations—to understand how art and literature offer signposts for navigating life during times when distance and proximity have taken on new meaning.

Session 3: Epidemiology

July 7
This session will explore how the virus is transmitted, how social distancing works, and how collaborative patient care is necessary to treat the illness.

Session 4: Psycho-Social Impact of COVID-19 and Building a Healthy Future

July 14: Psychology, Sociology and Education
This session will explore the following questions: How has COVID-19 impacted our health behaviors, physical health, and mental health? What are the best strategies to enhance physical and mental health during these times? What is the impact of COVID-19 on the brain and learning? How does a race/ethnicity alter the experience of COVID? And, how can we best “plant seeds” for food security as well as understand people, policies, and processes of change?

Session 5: Business and Economics

July 21
This session will explore some impacts of the pandemic on businesses, the economy, and government policy, and how people in the field think about those developments. Among the topics we plan to discuss are: How have hospitals been stressed as businesses? Is the health care system making inequality worse? How are international business and trade affected? Do calls to “buy and sell American” make sense? What can the government do better than the private sector to respond to this pandemic, and prepare for the next one? How are businesses navigating marketing and promotion during the crisis? How are businesses reorganizing to succeed after the pandemic ends?

Session 6: Historical and Religious Perspectives

July 28
This session will explore religious, historical, literary, and artistic responses to disease and contagion. We will consider religious interpretations of plague in the Bible and question why all biblical plagues come from God. Moving into early modern periods, we will discuss plague and quarantine in 18th century France and will consider what such stories can – and can’t – tell us about the Coronavirus pandemic, as our own elected officials weigh the competing interests of private wealth and public health. The session will conclude with a discussion of pandemics and the home as a place of sanctuary and danger in Shakespeare’s England.

Session 7: Data Analytics, Technology, and Data Privacy

August 4
Biotechnology, data collection and analytics, and Internet-connected devices have all played a central role in the global pandemic response. This session will explore how data analytics and bioinformatics are used to track and predict the spread and evolution of the virus. Topics will include biotechnology of testing, genomic sequencing and surveillance, contact tracing, data modeling and visualization, and a discussion on data privacy and the ethical use of personal data to track disease spread.

Session 8: Power and the Pandemic

August 11
Throughout history, pandemics have altered power dynamics. How will the current pandemic reshuffle our political world? Will it accelerate the already ongoing authoritarian resurgence or salvage the virtues of a democratic state? Some autocratic leaders (such as in Hungary, Poland, Turkey, and Russia) have seized on the pandemic to consolidate their power and crashed civil liberties and civil societies. Are democracies or authoritarian states more effective in fighting the pandemic? Do our political systems even matter when it comes to effective responses to global crises of such scale? In the U.S. context, the pandemic has changed the relationship between the national government and state governments, and it has raised concerns about governmental overreach. This session will explore the risks and opportunities for the future of democracy in the United States and around the world.

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