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An Anthropological Perspective of Epidemics – Online
Writing in 2015, Yuval Noah Harari said we have managed to rein in plague, alongside famine and war (humanity's three great problems). We have, he said, transformed these problems from 'incomprehensible and uncontrollable forces of nature into manageable challenges' (Homo Deus, Vintage 2016). Is he right? How do our reactions to the current pandemic compare to those of people in other cultures and other times to similarly frightening epidemics?
Writing in March 2020, in the middle of Covid-19, Harari acknowledges that humankind is now facing a global crisis. This storm will pass, he says, but the choices we make now could change our lives for years to come (Harari, Financial Times 20/3/20). What are those choices? What are we learning about changes that are needed to make life safer? and what about changes that are wanted to make life happier?
This course will investigate beliefs about and responses to various epidemics across time and space. We will also consider likely and/or desirable changes to our post-Covid-19 way of life.
Suitability - Who should attend?
The course is for anyone who is interested in finding out what Anthropology can contribute to our understanding and analysis of epidemics, including the current pandemic. You need a computer or tablet or phone that can run Zoom and access online resources. The only other requirement is that you are open-minded and prepared to contribute to discussion.
Training Course Content
By the end of the course you should be able to:
- Explain key features of an anthropological perspective on the current pandemic.
- Compare and contrast beliefs and behavior around various epidemics.
- Evaluate various social changes that could become part of our post-Covid-19 way of life.
Course delivery details
Learning and teaching methods will include pre-reading/watching/listening in preparation for each Zoom session. The Zoom sessions will then involve discussion and activities, some in small 'breakout' groups, as well as tutor presentation. Follow-up materials will be available.
There is no formal assessment. Your progress will be monitored and supported through observation, and through discussion via email.
- Full fee: £62
- Concession fee: £31
What this course could lead to
You could enrol on the other Anthropology courses beginning in the Autumn term, either Introduction to Anthropology or Anthropology of Advertising. You may also want to consider further courses in the Humanities and Social Sciences course offer, including courses in Philosophy, Psychology, History, Lietrature and others
Mary Ward Centre
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