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New class to showcase the many facets of Mason’s fight against COVID-19

June 30, 2020   /   by John Hollis

The new class "UNIV 391:COVID-19 and the Mason Impact"will showcase the many facets of Mason’s fight against the pandemic. Photo by Getty.

Bethany Usher envisioned a new class that was more “scholarship in blue jeans” as a way to showcase the many ways that George Mason University is helping in the fight against COVID-19, while also appealing to students and the general public. 

UNIV 391: COVID-19 and the Mason Impact, which is already fully subscribed, is a free, one-credit course being offered to Mason students during July’s Summer Session C that runs from July 6 to Aug. 5. The course, which will be graded satisfactory/no credit, will feature a different Mason faculty or staff member for each class, each of whom will highlight an aspect of COVID-19 that has intersected with their particular scholarly work to help provide a better understanding of the pandemic. Each virtual presentation will be followed with a Q&A between faculty and students. The recorded presentations will be made available to the general public via You Tube after the live session is completed. 

“I wanted this to be scholarship, but also approachable to people in the community,” said Usher, the associate provost for undergraduate education. “We wanted to explain to students how involved Mason is in studying the Covid-19 crisis and show that we at Mason have many different ways we can approach these challenges.” 

Students will also learn about how they can get involved in research and community projects at Mason. 

Mason faculty set to participate include Interim Provost and Executive Vice President Mark R. GinsbergAmira Roess, a professor of global health and epidemiology within Mason’s College of Health and Human ServicesJennifer Victor, an associate professor of political science within the Schar School of Policy and GovernmentTyler Cowen, a professor of economics within the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and director of the Mercatus Center; and Andrew Light, a University Professor of Philosophy, Public Policy and Atmospheric Sciences within CHSS, and others. 

“It is really important that universities and other entities engage in meaningful outreach activities that provide the public with facts about COVID-19, along with a thoughtful analysis of the current state of the pandemic,” Roess said. “This is a complex topic, with rapid scientific advances that make consumption of information challenging. This series allows the public a chance to engage with researchers and gain high quality analysis of the situation.” 

Victor called the pandemic “a highly salient event to use as a tool to teach about everything from policy making and federalism, to inequality and elections.” 

“Lessons are often more resonant when students have a personal connection to the material being taught, and everyone has a connection to Covid-19,” she said. 

Usher will serve as the moderator for the class, which will be held from 5-6:15 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. After each class is held, presentations will be made available for viewing and linked from the course webpage

“We’re using this as an opportunity to showcase the best we do,” Usher said. 

Editor's note: As of July 6 the course is full.