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UBC to offer Canada's first 'COVID-19 and Society' course this fall

"The course helps students make connections between their own experience of COVID-19 and larger social patterns occurring locally and globally."
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Photo: Facebook/University of British Columbia

It will be the first time the course is offered in Canada, but the topic certainly won't be unfamiliar. 

This September, UBC students will have the chance to learn more about the COVID-19 pandemic from an evidence-based sociological perspective. So far, 270 have enrolled in the September class, which will be taught by course instructor and developer Katherine Lyon. 

As part of the final project, students of COVID-19 and Society will work with a community partner to develop materials and recommendations to inform the public about COVID-19.

As for the objective of the class, Lyon says, "The course helps students make connections between their own experience of COVID-19 and larger social patterns occurring locally and globally."

Lyon explains that the class will be in three parts. The first will examine how the pandemic exacerbated and exposed social inequalities, with an emphasis on race, age, gender, sexuality, and class. In the second, students will explore experiences of the pandemic through daily social interactions, exploring friendship, identity, social networks and social infrastructure under lockdown

The third part will focus on the way social institutions were affected by COVID-19, including science, work, healthcare, the economy and the legal system. 

"A theme underlying the entire course is social change: how people and societies respond to sweeping and unexpected social change, and how individuals and groups can seek to make meaningful change for the future in light of what we have learned from this pandemic," describes Lyon.

The class will also hear from 10 guest speakers from different fields impacted by COVID-19.

When asked how she came up with the idea for the class, Lyon says she wanted to shift away from individualized risk. Instead, she aims to look at COVID-19 through a collective and global lens.

"Students are curious about interpreting their own experience of COVID-19 in light of larger social patterns occurring locally and globally. This course offers the latest data and a diversity of scholarly lenses to interpret these unprecedented current events as they continue to unfold."

The UBC course filled up within two weeks, and 75 students are on the wait list for the September offering.





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