Photo of Putnam the Pioneer Carving with a mask over its nose and mouth in a graphic

College 194
The Road from Crisis to Campus: Pioneering through a Pandemic

Course Description:

Over the past year, we have watched the world grapple with big questions as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has changed how we live on a day-to-day basis. These big questions are the subject of this course. We will explore how a liberal arts education provides multiple perspectives by which to address the big questions of life.

Marietta College faculty in the sciences, humanities, fine arts and the social sciences will provide insight from each area to help us begin to understand how viewing the pandemic crisis from different disciplines can help us reach a deeper level of understanding.

As incoming Pioneers, you will have the opportunity to meet Marietta College faculty and student leaders, and begin to understand just why you chose a liberal arts college to help you answer life’s big questions.



Course Information:

Days & Time - The course runs from June 14 to August 6. Webinar lectures with Q&A are every Monday from 7:00-8:15 p.m. (EST). Small discussion sessions will be held via Zoom meetings on Tuesday, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Students will pick one discussion session that they will attend for 50 minutes each week.

Cost & Credits – The course is FREE to all incoming first-year students including transfers. The course will be graded S/U, which does not impact the GPA, but if passed with an S will provide 1 credit toward the 120 credits required for graduation.

Homework & Assignments – Each week there will be a short reading to do prior to the lecture. The readings will help students prepare to get the most out of the lecture and to get into the habit of reading which is the number one stressor college students cite when asked what is the difference between high school and college-level work. The course will end with each student doing a short reflection paper or creative project to help them synthesize what they have learned over the eight weeks. Integrative learning is at the core of the Pioneer Path general education so the course will give students a head start on this critical skill.

Sessions & Instructors:

Week One – Monday, June 14

Integrative Thinking in the Liberal Arts
Dr. Joe Sullivan, Associate Professor of English

The Biology of Covid-19
Dr. Steve Spilatro, McCoy Professor of Biology

We will begin the course with an introduction to the biology of Covid-19 and virology in general. We will discuss the basic structure and origins of the Covid-19 virus (Sars-Cov-2), why it mutates, and how it infects cells and is transmitted. Other topics will include the principles of Covid-19 tests, vaccines, potential need for boosters shots, and the latest science on the pandemic. Questions during the presentation are welcome.

Watch the Recording

Week Two – Monday, June 21

COVID-19's – How and Why Disinformation Thrived and How to be a Critical Consumer
Dr. Linda Lockhart, Assistant Professor of Communication
Lori Smith, Assistant Professor of Communication

Now, more than ever, we realize how important producing valuable information is during a crisis. How are people engaging with the media and how are they staying informed about COVID-19? Journalism is key to supplying credible information in a time of an overabundance of content. Public relations and advertising also play an important role in helping businesses and industries respond. Yet, with all the credible information, there is an abundance of misinformation about the virus. Find out how "fake news" spreads and how it distorts COVID policies and behaviors, including vaccine acceptance. Learn what you can do to find reliable information and how to become a critical consumer of the media.

Watch the Recording

Week Three – Monday, June 28

Economics of the Great Shutdown
Dr. Greg Delemeester, McCoy Professor, Milton Friedman Professor of Economics

Supply chains, consumer choices, and individual livelihoods are likely to be forever impacted by the changes taking place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Initial government responses to the pandemic have primarily utilized various forms of social distancing and economic lockdowns in order to “flatten the curve” and save lives. What have been the impacts of the lockdown approach? Have the lockdowns been “worth it”?

Leadership Lessons in COVID-19: What Makes a Good Leader During a Crisis
Dr. Bill Ruud, Professor of Management, President

We will explore how the liberal arts can help you make sense of the ethical, legal, and leadership complexity of unprecedented crises like the COVID-19 Pandemic, and why it is important.

Watch the Recording

Week Four – Monday, July 5

Integrative Thinking in the Liberal Arts - Part II
Dr. Joe Sullivan, Associate Professor of English

What Happens when our “Social Network” Becomes Disconnected
Dr. Ryan May, McCoy Professor of Psychology

Humans are social animals- not only do we enjoy social interaction, but research suggests that having strong social support networks improves our mental AND physical health.  We will discuss some of underlying reasons why this is the case and explore how perceived isolation related to the pandemic had an impact on our overall mental and physical well-being.

Watch the Recording

Week Five – Monday, July 12

The Ethics of COVID 19 Vaccine Mandates and Communication Regarding the Public Health
Dr. Alexandra Perry, Assistant Professor of Leadership Studies
Dr. Robert McManus, Professor of Leadership and Communication Studies

When does the good of the many outweigh the rights of the individual? How do we persuasively communicate issues regarding public health ethically in a way that provides clarity while respecting choice? This unit will explore an essential question: How can the liberal arts help you make sense of the ethical complexity of unprecedented crises like the COVID-19 Pandemic, and why this important?

Watch the Recording

Week Six – Monday, July 19

Integrative Thinking in the Liberal Arts - Part III
Dr. Joe Sullivan, Associate Professor of English

Historical Perspectives on the Coronavirus Pandemic
Dr. Matt Young, McCoy Professor of History

For historians, the past offers a mirror that provides helpful perspective on the present. This session will examine earlier epidemics in history and how they help us understand the current social and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Week Seven – Monday, July 26

Creativity in Times of Crisis: The Case for Art as ESSENTIAL
Dr. Janet Bland, Professor English, Provost and Dean of the Faculty
Dr. Z Zerbe, Assistant Professor of Graphic Design

This week we will explore how during times of crisis, we instinctually turn to the arts and creativity to help us cope. We will discuss how times of great challenge spark even greater creativity in everyday people, and how during the COVID-19 pandemic, the arts have become a means for coping and escape. Examples from literature, fine arts, music, gaming, and social media will be presented and discussed, prompting the question: if we rely on the arts during our times of great need, why is it so hard to convince society that the arts are essential?

Watch the Recording

Week Eight – Monday, August 2

Tying it All Together

Panel Discussion to reflect on how the liberal arts gave us a new perspective on how to approach the big questions.