Press Release

‘In This Together’

April 21, 2020 – by Cole Hatcher

Ohio Wesleyan to Offer Free 10-Week Class Exploring Coronavirus Pandemic

DELAWARE, Ohio – When it comes to COVID-19, “we’re in this together,” Ohio Wesleyan University’s professors say. In response, they have created a free online course to explore the coronavirus pandemic from the perspectives of biology, politics, psychology, humanities, the arts, and other academic areas.

“Like everyone affected by this virus,” professor Laurie Anderson says, “the Ohio Wesleyan faculty have been asking: What can we do? How can we help our students, our communities, and ourselves as we all cope with the isolation that is absolutely necessary to protect and support those working in essential services?

“This course is one answer, and for me,” says Anderson, Ph.D., “the message of the course is this: In the midst of this crisis, seek facts, demand evidence, explore unexpected connections, respect and listen to multiple perspectives, and don’t just hope for a better future – build one.”

The 10-week course – titled “We’re in This Together: An Interdisciplinary Exploration of the Coronavirus Pandemic” – will begin the week of April 27 and conclude the week of June 30. It will meet virtually twice a week – at 4 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays – and use lectures, panel discussions, and class questions to explore the lasting effects of COVID-19 on the global society.

The class is free for everyone, including new and current Ohio Wesleyan students (who are able to register for .25 academic credits), prospective students, family members, alumni, Lifelong Learning Institute participants, and area residents. Registration is available at owu.edu/COVIDclass. It is required for students and requested for others in order to share links to the discussion sessions, reading materials, and schedule updates.

“The general public will be able to participate by watching the lectures, and if they register, they will be signed up to log into the ‘Meet the Profs’ sessions and have access to the readings,” said Ashley Biser, Ph.D., associate dean for curriculum. “Registration is free, but we ask those who are able to make a small donation to the OWU Fund’s Emergency Needs Fund to support students with COVID-related expenses.”

Each of the twice-a-week sessions will be either a single 30-40-minute lecture or a panel discussion lasting up to 75 minutes. Optional “Meet the Profs” sessions with that week’s presenters will be held at 4 p.m. Thursdays (for students) and at noon Fridays (all others).

The course will be conducted on Ohio Wesleyan’s YouTube Channel, www.youtube.com/OhioWesleyanU, and recordings of all presentations will be posted following the live events. Anyone may listen to the lectures and discussions live or recorded without registration.

Current course topics and presenters are as follows. (For the latest information, visit owu.edu/COVIDclass.)

Week 1 – April 27-May 1

  • 4 p.m. April 27: “Coronavirus: Where Are the Solutions?” panel discussion with Ohio Wesleyan professors Ellen Arnold (history), Sean Kay (politics and government), and Randy Quaye (black world studies)
  • 4 p.m. April 29: “Coronavirus Connections: The Ecology of a Pandemic” lecture with Laurie Anderson (botany and microbiology)

Week 2 – May 4-8

  • 4 p.m. May 4: “Pandemics of the Past” lecture with Ellen Arnold (history)
  • 4 p.m. May 6: “Modeling Coronavirus” panel discussion with Barbara Anderek (physics) and Heather Fair (botany and microbiology)

Week 3 – May 11-15

  • 4 p.m. May 11: “Global and American Security” lecture with Sean Kay (politics and government)
  • 4 p.m. May 13: “How are Countries Responding to COVID-19?” lecture with Jim Franklin (politics and government)

Week 4 – May 18-22

  • 4 p.m. May 18: “Inequality and the Coronavirus Pandemic” panel discussion with Randy Quaye (black world studies) and Dawn Chisebe (black world studies)
  • 4 p.m. May 20: “How the Pandemic Exposed What’s Great and Not So Great in Our Public Schools” lecture with Michele Nobel (education)

Week 5 – May 25-29

  • 4 p.m. May 26 (Tuesday): “Literary Responses to Past Pandemics” lecture with Anne Sokolsky (comparative literature)
  • 4 p.m. May 27: “Pandemics, Politics, and Pictures: Italian Art and the Black Death” lecture with Carol Neuman de Vegvar (fine arts)

Week 6 – June 1-5

  • 4 p.m. June 1: “Food Systems and Food Security in the Pandemic” panel discussion with Chris Fink (health and human kinetics), Liz Nix (nutrition), and Ashley Allen (geology and geography)
  • 4 p.m. June 3: “Sixty to Zero in Nothing Flat: The Impact of COVID on the American Economy and the Prospects for Recovery” lecture by Bob Gitter (economics)

Week 7 – June 8-12

  • 4 p.m. June 8: “Social Distance, Not Social Isolation: Staying Connected During COVID-19” panel discussion with Kira Bailey (psychology) and Vicki DiLillo (psychology)
  • 4 p.m. June 10: “Simple Practices for Stress Relief” lecture with Emily Hanafin (health and human kinetics)

Week 8 – June 15-19

  • 4 p.m. June 15: “Before and After: Advertising and Marketing in the Age of Coronavirus” lecture by Matt Vollrath (business administration)
  • 4 p.m. June 17: “International and Global Economic Aspects of COVID-19: Where Are We, and Where Do We Go?” lecture by Saif Rahman (economics)

Week 9 – June 22-26

  • 4 p.m. June 22: “Reframing the Future? Policy Change and Cultural Adaptation” panel discussion with Franchesca Nestor (politics and government) and Vanessa Hildebrand (sociology and anthropology)
  • 4 p.m. June 24: “When Will It Be Safe to Go Out Again? Challenges in Vaccine Development, and Why It May Be OK Without One” lecture with Suren Ambegaokar (botany and microbiology)

Week 10 – June 30-July 3

  • 4 p.m. June 30: “Music for the Future” panel discussion with Rich Edwards (music) and Nancy Gamso (music)
  • 4 p.m. July 2: “The Future is Ours: What Does Life Look Like After Coronavirus?” panel discussion with Ashley Biser (politics and government) and other course faculty

Learn more about Ohio Wesleyan’s “We’re in This Together” course at www.owu.edu/covid-class and read coronavirus-themed faculty essays at www.owu.edu/covid-essays. Learn more about making a contribution to the OWU Fund-Emergency Needs Fund at www.owu.edu/campaign.


Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers more than 90 undergraduate majors and competes in 25 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Through Ohio Wesleyan’s signature OWU Connection program, students integrate knowledge across disciplines, build a diverse and global perspective, and apply their knowledge in real-world settings. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives” and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at www.owu.edu.