New class 'COVID-19 and Society' explores pandemic as it unfolds

UBC students now have the opportunity to study the COVID-19 pandemic as it unfolds in a new course, COVID-19 and Society.

The course was introduced by the department of sociology on March 7 by the instructor, Dr. Katherine Lyon. Students are currently able to register to take the course in summer term two.

Lyon said she decided to create the class to “shift away from the media emphasis on fear, which can be paralyzing, and help students process what is happening while the pandemic is unfolding.”

She hopes that this class will “build a community of students asking similar questions” and provide students the opportunity to explore the impacts of COVID-19 on institutions including media, family, work, and healthcare.

Colleen Chambers, a recent graduate who is part of a team doing research for the course, called the course “exciting.”

“It is just a matter of providing a new perspective for which to see this pandemic as it will be different to what we see in the news every night, what we see on social media,” Chambers said.

Student response

Second-year student Victoria Mah told The Ubyssey that she was “thrilled” about this course.

“When I saw this was a course, I was ... thinking this could help me understand the situation better and give me a broader context to my volunteering [at St.John’s ambulance].”

She said she thinks this course can be a place she can share her experiences and observations of the impact of COVID-19.

“Studying a global pandemic while it is unfolding is beneficial, if not necessary, for providing a deeper understanding of the psychosocial impacts of a pandemic, and the implications it has, rather than simply complaining and being pessimistic about canceled vacations,” Mah added.

Fourth-year student Alec Wilson registered for the course because he is “interested to see how we will be able to apply a sociological lens in analyzing the issue and taking into account all of the crazy things that are happening as part of this global pandemic.”

“[I want to be] able to understand it more in-depth than just a couple of news articles I get,” said Wilson.

While COVID-19 and Society will be taking place online, grad student and TA for the course Harriet Moore said that the course will allow students to have a dialogue on the impacts of COVID-19 on different groups.

“[Working] with Dr. Lyon and other teaching assistants will be such a rare opportunity to collaborate on what I believe to be an innovative class,” said Moore.

Lyon said there has been “a lot of demand for the course” and that the department is discussing continuing to offer the course.

“We are already talking about having it in September and beyond if there is still an interest.”