All new students enrolled in Oberlin College’s Class of 2024 are invited to participate in a special two-credit academic course entitled Uncovering COVID-19: Critical Liberal Arts Perspectives.

World map overlaid with viruses (illustration)

This course was offered for the first time beginning in April, and more than 500 admitted students chose to enroll. Due to high demand, we have decided to offer the course a second time.

For this second offering, classes will take place via Zoom on eight consecutive Thursdays, from 6:30–8:30 p.m. EDT, beginning Thursday, May 21. The course will give students an opportunity to engage with questions about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic from a variety of disciplinary approaches.

Each week will feature a faculty lecturer from a different academic department. The full course description, along with the list of faculty speakers by week, is below. You can enroll in the course by registering online by Monday, May 18, 2020.

Register Now

Course Description

As the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, has spread throughout the world and prompted entire countries to close non-essential operations, it has dominated the news cycle and demanded our attention in nearly every facet of our lives.

This course offers a holistic understanding of a complex global phenomenon that is reshaping how we work, play, learn, and engage with each other. Oberlin faculty members in biology, mathematics, politics, comparative American studies, cinema studies, economics, psychology, and rhetoric and composition will provide a variety of perspectives on the pandemic, demonstrating the interdisciplinary approach necessary for fully comprehending the current crisis.

This course serves as an introduction to the power of a liberal arts education. Prospective Oberlin College students will have the opportunity to meet Oberlin faculty and student leaders, and get a sense of what it means to ask big questions.


Instructors and Sessions

Week 1: Thursday, May 21
What is COVID-19, and why is it dangerous to humans?
Yolanda Cruz, Robert S. Danforth Professor of Biology

Week 2: Thursday, May 28
How can we model the spread of COVID-19?
Jeff Witmer, Professor of Mathematics/Statistics

Week 3: Thursday, June 4
How have governments, political organizations, and citizens reacted politically to COVID-19?
Michael Parkin, Erwin N. Griswold Professor of Politics

Week 4: Thursday, June 11
How has the media covered the COVID-19 outbreak, and how has this coverage shaped our understanding?
Jan Cooper, John C. Reid Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Composition
Geoff Pingree, Professor of Cinema Studies and English

Week 5: Thursday, June 18
How can we write about our experiences of COVID-19, and crisis more generally?
Laurie McMillin, Professor of Rhetoric and Composition

Week 6: Thursday, June 25
What are the psychological impacts of social isolation?
Cindy Frantz, Norman D. Henderson Professor of Psychology

Week 7: Thursday, July 2
Who has access to care during health crises?
KJ Cerankowski, Assistant Professor of Comparative American Studies and Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies

Week 8: Thursday, July 9
What can historical examples of pandemic teach us?
Martin Saavedra, Assistant Professor of Economics

Week 1: Tuesday, April 7
What is COVID-19, and why is it dangerous to humans?
Yolanda Cruz, Robert S. Danforth Professor of Biology

Week 2: Tuesday, April 14
How can we model the spread of COVID-19?
Jeff Witmer, Professor of Mathematics/Statistics

Week 3: Tuesday, April 21
How have governments, political organizations, and citizens reacted politically to COVID-19?
Michael Parkin, Erwin N. Griswold Professor of Politics

Week 4: Tuesday, April 28
How has the media covered the COVID-19 outbreak, and how has this coverage shaped our understanding?
Jan Cooper, John C. Reid Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Composition
Geoff Pingree, Professor of Cinema Studies and English

Week 5: Tuesday, May 5
How can we write about our experiences of COVID-19, and crisis more generally?
Laurie McMillin, Professor of Rhetoric and Composition

Week 6: Tuesday, May 12
What are the psychological impacts of social isolation?
Cindy Frantz, Norman D. Henderson Professor of Psychology

Week 7: Tuesday, May 19
Who has access to care during health crises?
KJ Cerankowski, Assistant Professor of Comparative American Studies and Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies

Week 8: Tuesday, May 26
What can historical examples of pandemic teach us?
Martin Saavedra, Assistant Professor of Economics

How much does it cost?

Enrolling in the course is free for all registered students. All readings and other materials will be provided for free. Students will need access to the internet in order to stream the lectures and discussion groups via Zoom.

Best of all, the course credits can be applied toward your Oberlin degree!


Learn More

Find details about course credit, class format, and more:

Frequently Asked Questions: Uncovering COVID-19.