Course Description

Infectious diseases have had a major impact on human populations throughout history, as exemplified by the COVID-19 pandemic we are currently experiencing. Over the span of six classes, we will establish a baseline understanding of disease-causing “germs”—the viruses, bacteria, and more that make humans sick. We will delve into specifics of COVID-19, its predecessor SARS, and influenza, as well as diseases spread by lice, fleas, and rats. Poxes including smallpox, syphilis, and "childhood diseases," plus flash-bang outbreaks like Ebola will be explored. Slow-burning epidemics like tuberculosis will be examined as will HIV/AIDS and malaria—the “big three” infectious disease killers in the world today. Classes will be interactive and highlight cultural context using video recordings, music, and other arts, while being technically accurate and content rich. | Lecture + Q&A; Listening to audio recordings; Viewing videos.

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Section Title
Pandemics and Plagues: Infectious Diseases in Humans
Online - Zoom
1:30PM to 2:45PM
Oct 14, 2020 to Nov 18, 2020
Schedule and Location
Contact Hours
Delivery Options
Virtual Classroom  
Course Fees
Section Notes

Class sessions are recorded.

Please note: Questions and discussions about topics will be encouraged, but personal ailments and diagnostic dilemmas (i.e., clinical medicine) will be off-limits.

Recommended text:
Rene and Jean Dubos, The White Plague (9780813512242)
Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel (9780393317558)
John M Barry, The Great Influenza (9781101200971)
John D Hamilton, The History of Infectious Diseases at Duke University in the Twentieth Century (9781483423760)