Building on the enthusiastic response to last year’s COVID-19 in Context course, the University of Mary Washington is offering another free, open-to-all series in June. Life After COVID, delivered to homes, backyards and porches via Zoom and YouTube, will run Tuesdays and Thursdays, June 1 to July 1.
“We view opportunities such as the Life After COVID course as part of our mission as a public liberal arts and sciences institution,” said UMW College of Arts and Sciences Dean Keith Mellinger, who is co-facilitating the course with Assistant Dean Betsy Lewis and Communication and Digital Studies Chair Anand Rao.
UMW’s largest course ever, last year’s COVID-19 in Context event reached nearly 2,000 participants in 39 states, plus Washington, D.C., and countries across the globe, including Canada, England, France, Switzerland, Japan and Ghana. Like its predecessor, the course this summer will bring together current and incoming students, alumni, parents, community members, faculty and staff to explore timely COVID-related topics, Rao said. “It’s a big tent for academic discussion, which is the best model of what higher education can provide in today’s world.”
Mary Washington faculty members are donating their time to present 10 lectures on a wide range of subjects including the future of public health communication, how past art and architecture flourished post-plague, advancements in biomedical research, shifts in higher education and the pandemic’s long-term impact on business. Reflecting on insights and analysis from a variety of perspectives, course participants will examine issues brought to light over the past year and consider opportunities for change and growth in the virus’s aftermath.
“We are at a point where people want to move past the pandemic and start talking about recovery. That’s the goal of this course – to look forward,” Mellinger said. “We need to acknowledge the societal impact, of course, but we need to focus on how we move on successfully.”
Twice a week, a different UMW faculty member will deliver a 30-minute lecture at 4 p.m., followed by an interactive question-and-answer session. Lecture descriptions and the course schedule are available on the Life After COVID webpage. Participants may choose to attend all 10 lectures or just a few; the course is designed to be flexible.
Thanks to donor and faculty support, Life After COVID is being offered to all UMW students as a free two-credit course (IDIS 300) that’s also free for alumni, community members, faculty, staff, parents and everyone else. An internet-connected device is all that is needed to participate. The registration form gives participants the option to make a donation if they wish, and all funds beyond those used to offset course costs will go to the Beyond the Classroom Endowment for student research and learning.
Lewis said she’s excited to see students’ and community members’ enthusiasm for the free summer course and hopes to use it as a model for expanding future educational offerings.
“We said after last year’s class that this format worked so well in so many ways – as a way to stay engaged with students over the summer, welcome new students and invite community participation,” she said. “With or without COVID, it’s something that could work in many other contexts.”
To read more about the free course and see descriptions of all 10 lectures, please visit the Life After COVID overview page. Complete the registration form to sign up through May 28. After that date, anyone who wishes to participate should email College of Arts and Sciences Dean Keith Mellinger: firstname.lastname@example.org.