Pandemic Perspectives

You have questions; we have experts.

Pandemic diseases impact all dimensions of human life — from the dynamics of families and workplaces to the highest levels of politics, the economy, and the environment.

This series of six expert talks will cover a broad array of pandemic-related topics. UM-Dearborn faculty will apply their researched perspectives to help you better understand pandemic sources, consequences, implications and precedents of the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.

Who should participate?

Anyone! For continuing students, course tuition and fees are waived, and participation is free to the public. New incoming students will also be able to participate for free, but will not earn academic credit.

This online opportunity is complimentary to anyone who would like to deepen their understanding of the pandemic and its potential impacts on our world. All that’s needed is Internet access and a computer, tablet, or smartphone.


When are the sessions and how do I participate?

A series of six sessions will be held every Tuesday from 7 to 8:30 PM from July 21 to August 25. You can view the course schedule below to learn about the exciting topics that will be discussed each week!

After signing up through this page, you will receive additional communication from UM-Dearborn about the next steps. The sessions will all be provided via online streaming - similar to that of a webinar.

Unique options for Continuing UM-Dearborn students

Interactive question and answer segments with the speakers will be available following each session, with priority given to UM-Dearborn students.

Continuing UM-Dearborn students enrolled in courses this Fall (who take courses this fall) can enroll in this course to earn one academic credit, with the associated tuition and fees waived. Students will be given access to our course management system (i.e. Canvas) to complete quizzes on each session and a final reflection paper upon the conclusion of the talks. Those who successfully complete all assignments will be able to receive a passing grade and have the credit added to their transcript. 



Please use this form to register for the course.  This is course will have all tuition and fees waived, and therefore no financial obligation is being made by registering. 

Course/Lecture Schedule

The schedule is liable to change

July 21 - Inclusiveness in the Race for a Cure: Communities of Color and Medical Research in the Pandemic Age
Expert: Terri Laws, PhD

Brief Summary:

Communities of color have experienced disproportionate death from Covid-19. While the (global) scientific community is in search of a cure or vaccine, the pandemic won't end unless they can convince Black and Latinx communities to participate in their medical research. Doing so will mean convincing communities of color that it's safe to move beyond the history of racism in medical research. 

July 28 - Ghosts, Germs and Maps: The Legacy of the 1854 London Cholera Epidemic
Experts: Paul Draus, PhD & Jacob Napieralski, PhD

Brief Summary:

John Snow’s groundbreaking investigation of cholera in 19th century London employed field methods and innovative mapping techniques that created the framework for modern epidemiological science.  Snow’s work also illustrates the enduring interconnection of infectious disease and social inequality, which we will relate to the late 20th century resurgence of tuberculosis and the COVID-19 pandemic.

August 4 - Epidemiology of COVID-19
Expert: Raji Janakiraman, PhD

Brief Summary:

A scientific explanation of COVID-19 symptoms, modes of transmission and current status of vaccine development, this presentation will be prefaced with the questions, “What is a Virus?”, “Why is this virus so dangerous?”, and “How did COVID-19 become a Pandemic?”  

August 11 - COVID-19 and Older Adults: Stress, Coping, and Mental Health
Expert: Brenda Whitehead, PhD

Brief Summary:

The lecture begins with an overview of the impact of COVID-19 on multiple aspects of life for older adults, focusing on factors associated with higher risk for stress and mental health issues and behaviors or resources older adults most report as helping them maintain well-being in the midst of stress. The presentation will finish with themes and quotes from ongoing research relating wisdom and advice from older adults about managing through difficult times like a pandemic. All of this is framed within a lifespan-developmental, psychological perspective.

August 18 - Post COVID-19 Transformation of the Transition to Adulthood around the World
Expert: Pamela Aronson, PhD (UM-Dearborn) & co-authors Arnaldo Mont'Alvao, PhD (Iowa State University), and Jeylan T. Mortimer, Phd (University of Minnesota)

Brief Summary:

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastic implications for the transition to adulthood, which was already precarious before the crisis hit. This presentation will consider how the COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting the transition to adulthood and exacerbating inequalities during this pivotal life course stage. It considers how changes in the markers of adulthood, including education, employment and economic independence, leaving home and family formation are affected by COVID-19, as well as trends of increasing inequality, the experience of vulnerable groups, and implications for policy. 

August 25 - COVID-19 & Environmental Justice
Expert: Natalie Sampson, PhD & Justin Onwenu of Detroit Sierra Club

Brief Summary:

COVID-19 layers on top of a longtime crisis of environmental health inequity in the U.S. Frontline communities of color or with low-income are more likely to live adjacent to industrial, freight, and hazardous waste sites, as sources of chemical and non-chemical exposures, and experience higher rates of associated morbidity and premature mortality. In many post-industrial cities, these health inequities are compounded by economic disinvestment, aging infrastructure, and the changing climate. While COVID-19 may lead to temporary declines in global air pollution, we contend how environmental health inequities will persist in major cities without the re-imagining of broader social, environmental, and economic policies. 

Help students impacted by the pandemic - A suggested donation

Participating faculty and administrators are donating their time and expertise to deliver these courses so that anyone in the UM-Dearborn community can deepen their understanding of the pandemic and its potential impacts on our world, at no cost.

We hope you will consider a donation at the time of your registration. Many of our students continue to experience unexpected financial challenges due to the health and economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. We have established the UM-Dearborn Immediate Relief COVID-19 Fund to help them with these urgent financial needs. Your generous gift to this fund will be used to support students during this challenging time, when they need us more than ever.

Course Facilitators

Dr. Paul Draus, Professor of Sociology

Dr. Amy Finley, Dean of Students

Pandemic Perspectives was made possible by:
  • Andy Beverly 
  • Amy Finley 
  • Cris Frendo
  • Greg Taylor
  • Karen Davis
  • Maureen Linker 
  • Paul Draus 
  • Ron Stockton
  • Scott Riggs 
  • Soraya Patton
  • Tim Taylor
  • Tyler Guenette 
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