GS222 Special Tpcs: Creative Problem-Solving in the time of COVID-19: Building a Pandemic-Resilient Campu

GS222 Special Tpcs: Creative Problem-Solving in the time of COVID-19: Building a Pandemic-Resilient Campu

9/27/2020. To all co-teachers, please feel welcome to add to the syllabus below. I'll add names and topics to the class sessions in the next day or so. Please add your ideas for projects below, can't wait to work with you on this! - Andrea

Course Description

      The COVID-19 crisis has impacted every aspect of the CC community, including the academic experience, social interactions, recreation, housing and residential experience, and on-campus work environments. The complex challenges presented by the public health emergency, social isolation, and the entanglement of politics and science necessitate multi-disciplinary collaboration. The liberal arts approach and principles of design thinking have never been more relevant and provide a path toward understanding pandemic-related problems at the intersection of the natural sciences, humanities, and social sciences. Class discussions will be led by a team of experts from across the campus.

      As part of this course, we integrate academic study with community- engaged learning experiences. Students work in teams to identify issues that the CC community is facing as a result of the pandemic and choose their own way to respond. Whether it is a hands-on approach, such as designing and fabricating masks and face shields, or an artistic approach, such as creating an interpretive dance on the subject of loneliness and separation, the choice is that of the students. Students may join existing initiatives such as the PPE project or create their own projects to help build a pandemic-resilient campus community.

Learning Outcomes

    • Develop an understanding of the impact of the pandemic through a multi-disciplinary lens
    • Identify and respond to a problem resulting from the pandemic on campus
    • Use design thinking to create a response and implement a solution
    • Communicate effectively about Covid-19 related issues


The class has three components. The first are the class sessions, which students may attend synchronously or asynchronously. Scholars from a wide range of disciplines will present on topics related to the pandemic and facilitate class discussions. Students should attend at least 14 out of 18 class sessions.

The second component is a community-engaged learning project. Students work in multi-disciplinary teams to identify and respond to a problem resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic on campus. Students may get involved in existing initiatives, such as the PPE project, or create and implement their own response to a problem. Teams will be assigned to an advisor who will provide guidance and feedback on the project. Each team should submit a mini-proposal for their project and discuss with their advisor prior to implementation.

Third, teams assess their project and reflect on its effectiveness. Each team should submit an evaluation of their project by the end of block J.

Schedule of Design Thinking Workshops (must complete all -- synchronous preferred and asynchronous should be worked out with Workshop facilitator)

Wednesday, October 7, 1:30-2:30pm MT

Wednesday, October 21, 1:30-2:30pm MT

Wednesday, October 28, 1:30-2:30pm MT

Schedule of class sessions

Block 2

Thursday, October 1, 3:30pm-4:30pm MT

Welcome to the Course. (Associate Dean and Professor Andrea Bruder, Math and Computer Science)

(Design thinking workshop Wednesday, October 7. See section above)

Thursday, October 8, 3:30pm-4:30pm MT

Film Discussion: How to Survive a Plague (Professor Tip Ragan, History)

How to Survive a Plague (dir. David France, 2012) examines the first decade of the AIDS/HIV epidemic in the United States.  Screening this hard-hitting film provides us with the opportunity to consider the similarities and differences between the current pandemic and an earlier health catastrophe that has resulted in the deaths of millions across the globe.  Make sure that you watch the movie before we gather together so that we may consider the implications of this important historical documentary.

Video link: Rent for $2.99 on Amazon Prime. If students need financial aid to watch the film, please get in touch with Mollie Hayden to arrange for reimbursement.

Block 3

(Design thinking workshop Wednesday, October 21. See section above)

Thursday, October 22, 3:30-4:30 pm MT:

Ethics and the COVID-19 Pandemic (Professor Marion Hourdequin, Philosophy)

Readings: Gostin et al_Responding to COVID-19.pdf (5 pp., please read); COVID-19 & Religious Ethics.pdf (a series of short reflections; please choose any 1-3 of these to read)

Friday - Saturday, October 23-24:Optional Conference attendance opportunity

Racial Justice in the Age of Plague (a conference organized by Professor Michael Sawyer, REMS and Afrianca Intellectual Project)

Difficult times reveal the foundational instability of political systems. The global pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus Covid-19 has sent seismic tremors through the world system and brought its toxic relationship to race to the forefront of our collective consciousness–while also manifestly bringing into crisis the idea that “we” (abstract, unmarked, unremarked) share or can share such a collective consciousness: that “we” share the experience of illness, of daily violence, of representation or representability. Political Concepts: A Critical Lexicon endeavors to meet this moment by convening this conference imperfectly titled “Racial Justice in the Time of Plague.” We are seeking to take on the critical element of PC’s editorial statement: a Critical Lexicon for a time of plague, for thinking racial justice, will seek to “resituate a particular aspect of political meaning, thereby opening pathways for another future—one that is not already determined and ill-fated. The term “critical” in our title is also meant quite literally: Political Concepts is a forum for conversation and constructive debate rather than the construction of an encyclopedic ideal.” Scholars engaged here will redefine the terms and conditions of this exhortation to thoughtful action that our moment demands and reveal at the conference’s close, perhaps, an epilogical title for this thinking.

See the full program and registration link on this page

Thursday, October 29, 3:30-4:30 pm MST:

Covid-19 and Social Psychology: Groupthink and Prejudice (Professor Emily Chan, Psychology)


Forsyth (2020): Group-Level Resistance to Health Mandates During the COVID-19Pandemic: A Groupthink Approach

Lee & Waters (2020): Asians and Asian Americans’ experiences of racial discrimination during the COVID-19 pandemic: Impacts on health outcomes and the buffering role of social support

Thursday, November 5, 3:30-4:30 pm MST:

Political Ecology, 1918, and COVID-19: local practices and global pandemics (Professor Eric Perramond, Southwest Studies and Environmental Studies)

How understanding this (latest) pandemic is intimately linked to political economy, environmental change, and the viral structure of misinformation. 


Required: Comment 2020 (Lancet on digital misinformation) and McKee and Stuckler (2020) on COVID-19

Optional if interested in 1918-19 flu pandemic: Saul (2018)

Please watch prior to classWe Heard the Bells: (1918 flu); documentary


Block Break, October 11-15, Asynchronous module

(tentative) Financial Literacy for Students during COVID-19 Pandemic (Director Shannon Amundson, Financial Aid)

Readings: TBD

Block 4

(Design thinking workshop Wednesday, November 18. See section above)

Thursday, November 19, 3:30-4:30  pm MST:

Models vs COVID-19: How to Flatten the Curve (Associate Dean and Professor Andrea Bruder, Math and Computer Science)

Readings: TBD

-- Thanksgiving Break --

Tuesday, December   1, 3:30-4:30 pm MST:

Well-being in a Pandemic: Harro's Cycle of Liberation (Mateen Zafer and the Butler Center)

Readings: TBD

Thursday, December  3, 3:30-4:30  pm MST:

Resilience:  A silver lining to experiencing adverse life events? (Professor Kristi Erdal, Psychology)

Reading: Seery (2011)

Thursday, December  10, 3:30-4:30 pm MST:

State, Regime, Government, and Society in COVID-19 Response (Professor Sofia Fenner, Political Science)

Readings: Watch this video.  preview of the topic 

-- Winter Break --

Block  J  

Tuesday, January 5, 2-3pm MST: NOTE DIFFERENT TIME

SARS-CoV-2 – Ask An Immunologist (Professor Olivia Hatton, Molecular Biology)

Readings & Videos:

Note: I’m not expecting that you’ll have read or watched all of the material below, just some of it that particularly strikes your interest.  Also, for all resources, especially about an evolving situation, it’s key to look at the dates at which these articles or videos were published. 


            • Watch: The Science Behind How Coronavirus Tests Work
              • Note: This video only covers molecular (a.k.a. PCR) tests and antibody tests; it doesn’t cover antigen tests. It also contains one piece of inaccurate information.  Antibody tests don’t use viral RNA to search for antibodies (Immunoglobulin M (IgM) or Immunoglobulin G (IgG)) in the blood, they use viral proteins.
            • Watch: How Do Pregnancy Tests Work?
              • Note: Antigen tests for SARS-CoV-2 work on the same general principle as pregnancy tests. Instead of HCG in pregnancy tests, however, SARS-CoV-2 antigen tests detect viral proteins.

Herd Immunity & Vaccines

 Disease & Treatments

General (& Very Awesome Overviews of Immunity)

Thursday, January  7, 3:30-4:30 pm MST:

Poetry for Trauma (Professor Carrie Ruiz, Spanish)


1. "Open Up! Writing About Trauma Reduces Stress, Aids Immunity"!-,Writing%20About%20Trauma%20Reduces%20Stress%2C%20Aids%20Immunity,measures%20and%20improving%20life%20functioning.

2. Power Behind Poetry Quotes

3. Poems

Writing Activity (complete prior to class session):

Poem writing Guidelines


Tuesday, January  12, 3:30-4:30 pm MST:

The Resilience of Socio-Ecological Systems: An International and Interdisciplinary Framework for Understanding Disturbances (such as COVID-19) (Professor Scott Ingram, Anthropology)

Video: What is the resilience of socioecological system approach?

          Applying resilience thinking;


Thursday, January  14, 3:30-4:30 pm MST:

Beading, Masks, and Artistic Expression. Debbie Howell is the Elder in Residence at Colorado College. She is a renown American Indian bead artist, with 50 years of experience.  She will share her knowledge of beading, how it is a traditional art, and how masks became a new platform for artistic expression during the pandemic. (Debbie Howell, Elder-in-Residence)

Readings: TBD

Thursday, January  21, 3:30-4:30 pm MST:

Environmental (In)Justice and COVID-19  (Professor Corina McKendry, Political Science and Environmental Studies Program)


Inspiration for projects

  • PPE project: A student-driven initiative to fill the gap in PPE, specifically face shields. We are planning to also make cloth masks, and students could get involved in either of the two efforts.
  • Testing the effectiveness of different models of cloth masks: Students are setting up a lab experiment to investigate.
  • Creating a virtual puppet show to engage children of CC employees to help address the need for childcare.
  • Work on airflow/air filtration issues to assist local schools/nonprofit organizations/others.  Perhaps CC students could assist with airflow analyses in buildings and/or develop inexpensive air filtration systems for those who lack sufficient resources to buy expensive air purifiers.  See: for discussion of a simple air cleaner using a furnace filter and a box fan.

Add your ideas !


Course Summary:

Date Details Due