U. Alabama announces virtual summer courses on pandemic issues

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Students at the University of Alabama will have the chance to learn about the challenges and issues associated with the coronavirus pandemic through three new online classes offered this summer.

Two of the courses will focus on understanding and tackling challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic — one on the shortage of personal protective equipment during the pandemic and the other on broader societal and organizational challenges, like supply chains, education, product innovation and domestic abuse. The third course will explore the pandemic through guest speakers on topics ranging from health care to the economy to the design of public spaces.

“The mutual goal of the courses is to help students better understand customers’ and society’s needs and impacts of what they do related to big, complex problems like pandemics,” Robert Morgan, a professor of marketing at UA who will help lead the new courses, said in a press release Friday. “We’re hoping to provide them with a set of skills and tools, coupled with a deeper human understanding of problems, that will set them up to be leaders in problem-solving efforts in the future.”

The new courses will give students across all areas of study at UA the opportunity to collaborate on innovative solutions to address complex problems that have risen out of the pandemic, according to the university.

“We want to highlight the transdisciplinary nature of how this virus is currently viewed, how it has and will continue to impact our daily lives, and how it may contribute to lasting changes to each of us and the world around us,” Ken Fridley, senior associate dean for administration in the College of Engineering, said in the release.

The University of Alabama has already taken action to help address challenges surrounding the pandemic, like 3D-printing face shields to address the shortage of personal protective equipment for medical workers. According to the university, these new courses will expand on those efforts, giving students the opportunity to develop innovative solutions.