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University of Guelph offering course on pandemics this fall

The course will explore past and present pandemics through culture, science, and society
20160202 University of Guelph 02 KA
University of Guelph file photo. Kenneth Armstrong/GuelphToday

The University of Guelph is set to be offering a new and relevant course this fall on pandemics. 

Students will be able to study pandemics from scientific, cultural, historical, and societal perspectives.

The course will divulge into the different aspects of the current global COVID-19 pandemic, and also explore previous pandemics and their lasting impact on the world.

Dr. Ryan Gregory, Professor and Department Chair of Integrative Biology at the University of Guelph said the creation of the course is very timely, considering we are dealing with a pandemic right now. 

"Wouldn't this be a unique opportunity for students to get those different perspectives, and engage in discussions from all those different standpoints given that is affecting everyone, everywhere in sort of every aspect of society."

He said they have four distinct and separate disciplines involved in the creation of the course.

"It gives us a chance to work together across disciplines that don't normally interact, it gives students very much a unique opportunity, you would not get this course at another time, and I would hazard to say not at another institution."

The course will be delivered in a multidisciplinary and collaborative approach and will use the expertise of four U of G colleges which includes biological science, arts, engineering and physical sciences, and social and applied human sciences.

"It's going to have a snapshot that's focused on COVID-19 just because that is the current situation, but its meant to be put in the context of this kind of phenomenon generally, historically, in the future and from all those different standpoints," said Gregory. 

The course was put together by a diverse team, which will enable it to explore infectious diseases and pandemics through a range of different lenses, including technology, psychology, social inequalities, genetics, literature, nutrition, wildlife biology, communication and mathematical modeling. 

"Pandemics and infectious diseases are complex issues, and it's therefore necessary to take an interdisciplinary approach to understanding what they mean for the world we live in," said Prof. Elizabeth Finnis, chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. "Students will gain a broader understanding of the complexities of infectious diseases, how they can become pandemics and what they mean for different aspects of society."

Prof. Karen Gordon, associate dean, academic in the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, said the course will provide students with a unique opportunity to interact with experts from many disciplines.

"It exemplifies the unique collaborative environment at the University of Guelph," Gordon said. "The premise of the entire course is to inspire students to actively consider perspectives of others that are different from their own."

"The online course is designed to guide students to explore the possibilities associated with both disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches to societal challenges," said Prof. Sofie Lachapelle, chair of the Department of History.


Cali Doran

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