The University of Nebraska–Lincoln launched a new six-college, interdisciplinary course exploring the world’s current circumstances due to COVID-19 through different disciplines and perspectives. "UGEP 291: The COVID-19 Pandemic: Effects on Industries, People and Society" will help students analyze the pandemic's effect on their own and others’ lives.
More than 30 faculty and staff—the most involved in teaching one course in recent university history—are collaborating to produce the online, second five-week course. The instructors represent 13 academic units in the colleges of agricultural sciences and natural resources, architecture, arts and sciences, business, education and human sciences, and engineering, as well as Libraries.
Students will examine topics such as the science of viruses like COVID-19, economic and financial implications, global and domestic political challenges, food supply chain, impact on our educational system and ways to engineer a solution. Students complete the course by submitting a paper or video about a current challenge in their area of interest and their proposed interdisciplinary solution.
Nebraska virologist Dr. Qingsheng Li, professor of biological sciences, plans to leverage his research on fighting emerging infectious diseases in the module about the science of viruses. As part of the Nebraska Center for Virology, Li and other Nebraska faculty combine their expertise to study important viral diseases of humans including influenza, HIV-1, Ebola, Zika and COVID-19.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped human life and taught us that the well-being of humans as a species depends on the well-being of animals and the environment," Li said. "In this course, I will explain how SARS-CoV-2, the tiny causative viral agent of COVID-19 disease, wreaks havoc globally and what may be the biological solution to end this pandemic.”
Some faculty plan to host live, optional Zoom forums where they can expand further on their topic, host guest speakers, and answer questions for students beyond the scope of their module. The forums will be recorded and shared with students.
When enrolling in MyRED, students can choose to take it for one credit hour or no credit. No tuition is charged if taken for no credit. No prerequisites are required.
Erin Burnette, director of the Nebraska Business Honors Academy, coordinated the course and serves as an instructor.
“We're hopeful this will provide a unique opportunity for students throughout the university to learn about the pandemic through a variety of lenses," she said. "We also want them to experience new ideas and faculty outside of their primary major, minor or college. This class can serve as a model for future interdisciplinary courses offered by the university.
"The world’s big challenges require us all to work together to come up with creative and necessary solutions.”
Adapted from "Pandemic Prompts New Six-College Collaborative Course" from the College of Business.