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Tusculum offering free six-session course to discuss COVID-19 pandemic

From Staff Reports

Tusculum University will offer a comprehensive look at the coronavirus in a free course available this summer to students, faculty and staff members and the community.

The six-week class, which will be taught by experts on the Tusculum faculty, will meet online Tuesdays at 7 p.m. starting June 23 and last about an hour per session. Each session will feature a presentation lasting 40-45 minutes followed by 15-20 minutes of questions and answers.

Tusculum can accommodate as many as 300 people in the class. The course is called “Pandemic! Perspectives.”

“One of the best ways academia can serve students and the community is to respond to what is taking place in the world and examine the subject across several disciplines,” said Wayne Thomas, dean of the university’s College of Civic and Liberal Arts. “We will provide our Tusculum family and the community with a breadth and depth of knowledge that will help them understand the many dimensions of this virus’ influence on our lives.”

The course will delve into the coronavirus from the perspectives of history, criminal justice, business and economics, nursing, sociology and public health. Thomas developed the course and quickly discovered that enthusiastic faculty members and a fellow dean embraced the opportunity to teach the sessions.

Students who want to receive one academic credit must attend every session and complete an assignment toward the end of the course.

“This is the latest example of Tusculum creating innovative courses and a dynamic environment that stimulates learning in a compelling way,” Thomas said. “It is also an excellent way to partner with our community.”

Here is a breakdown of the class:

• June 23: Dr. Angela Keaton, a professor of history, will discuss the 1918 Spanish Flu, otherwise known as The Great Influenza. She will review how this pandemic in the United States unfolded and why so many people quickly forgot about it. Dr. Keaton will also reference how the country might learn from COVID-19. Her talk is “‘In Flew Enza:’ The Great Influenza of 1918 or The Greatest Story Never Told.”

• June 30: Tusculum will not hold a session because it falls during the Independence Day holiday week.

• July 7: Mikaela Cooney, an assistant professor of criminal justice, will discuss the short-term and potentially long-term effects of the coronavirus on the mission and function of the criminal justice system. With the coronavirus providing an opportunity to assess perceptions about the connection between law enforcement, judicial and correctional practices and the effect on crime, she will examine whether the system and society are prepared for that impact. Her talk is “Flattening the (crime) curve: The shape of crime and criminal justice responses in the age of COVID-19.”

• July 14: Dr. Tim Carter, associate professor of marketing and management, will discuss how COVID-19 turned business models upside down. He will highlight what economies, industries and businesses appear to have responded best and which ones have been affected extremely negatively. He will consider the economic fallout, unemployment levels and the job outlook. He will also look more broadly to determine lessons learned to prepare for the next extraordinary situation. His lecture is “We Thought We Had a Plan!”

July 21: A trio of assistant professors of nursing, Carol Hicks, Alice Lawson and Callie Montgomery, will team on a lecture that discusses the transmission and spread of the coronavirus, tips to help stay healthy and the future for testing, a vaccine and treatment. The three will share their decades of health care experience in the talk “Wash Your Hands, Wash Your Hands: Pandemic Impact on Health Care.”

• July 28: Dr. Katherine Everhart, an assistant professor of sociology, and others in her field will talk about the coronavirus’ impact on a variety of groups, such as the service industry, blacks, rural populations and the homeless. She said the coronavirus has revealed how social class, race, gender, region, education and jobs shape one’s experience in a pandemic. Among the areas she will explore are access to care, vulnerability to the virus and unemployment rates. Her lecture is “Inequality in the Time of COVID-19.”

• Aug. 4: Dr. Heather Henson-Ramsey, dean of the College of Science, Technology and Math, will discuss the basics of epidemiology, a branch of medical science in which data are used to describe how common or uncommon a particular disease is in a population. Through this discussion, those taking the course will develop an understanding of terms such as herd immunity, infection rates and reproductive numbers. Dr. Henson-Ramsey will compare the coronavirus to other infectious diseases. Her talk is “Epidemiology and our Public Health (Pandemics by the Numbers).”

“Tusculum has a proud history of promoting civic engagement, and I am grateful we can engage the Tusculum family and the community in information-sharing that benefits all of us,” said Dr. Scott Hummel, Tusculum’s president. “We entered an unprecedented period when the coronavirus entered the country and our region, and these excellent sessions will provide a forum for everyone to receive factual information and understand all facets more fully.”

To learn more about the course and to apply, please visit For more information about the university, please visit