Check out the newest online project from our faculty!
Hosted by Prof. Chris Gehrz, Pandemics and the Liberal Arts is a limited-run podcast series exploring the ways that academic disciplines in the liberal arts can help us understand and respond to public health crises like what we’re experiencing right now with COVID-19. In future episodes, PLA will turn to other disciplines, from fellow humanities like philosophy to mathematics, sciences, and even the arts. But the podcast started closer to home with a pilot episode featuring our own Prof. Amy Poppinga. She talked about how the history of epidemics features in HIS320K History and the Human Environment, plus the role of religion in helping people cope with such crises and why historical empathy is more than important than ever in a time of social distancing.
One of the main reasons that history is so important right now is that it provides us with analogies to previous public health crises. In History and the Human Environment, Prof. Poppinga covers everything from the Black Death to diseases that afflicted the ancient world. For his part, Prof. Gehrz has written about three other analogues to COVID-19 at the Patheos blog The Anxious Bench: a 16th century recurrence of bubonic plague that inspired a famous response from Protestant reformer Martin Luther; the 1918 influenza pandemic that caused churches (and colleges like Bethel) to close for several weeks; and the polio scare that peaked in the 1950s.