In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered businesses and led to worldwide orders that people stay at home. Yet, even as the death toll rose and medical systems strained in cities from New York to Rome to Wuhan, there were some who doubted the necessity of such stay-at-home orders or who argued that the cure was worse than the disease. As this recent example demonstrates, even in the twenty-first century the nature of disease and how to prevent it is not merely a matter of science, but an issue laden with cultural, political, and religious concerns. This course will chart the history of disease both as a subject of scientific inquiry and a cultural and religious phenomenon. We will begin by providing a solid background in both the historical and scientific concepts related to disease, before moving on to discuss major outbreaks in World History including the Black Plague, Cholera, Syphilis, Influenza, and, of course, COVID-19.
This course offers 20 scholarships of $2,000 to enrolled students, to help offset the cost of unit fees. To apply, please prepare a 300-500 word essay explaining why are you interested in this course. You may also share any information about pressing financial need, though this is optional. Use your UCSB NetID to log in to the scholarship application portal and upload your essay for consideration. Scholarship applications will be accepted until July 24. Award decisions will be made on a rolling basis.