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Department of Political Science to Offer Course on the COVID-19 Crisis in Fall Semester

by Katie Gortz on 06/18/2020

SLU-Madrid’s Political Science Department has designed a new undergraduate course dedicated to the study of the far-reaching consequences of the global pandemic: POLS 2390 Key Contemporary Crisis: COVID-19.

The course will analyze the COVID-19 crisis as a turning point and an opportunity for change within the context of our globalized and interdependent world. After establishing a theoretical approach to the study of crisis, the course will analyze a wide range of contemporary challenges including international reactions (China, the U.S., the European Union, Latin America and Africa), the efficiency of measures, the impact on national and international politics, and an exploration of the way to avoid similar scenarios in the future. The course will be offered online and therefore is available to students anywhere in the world.

COVID-19 World Map

SLU-Madrid political science faculty are a diverse and international group whose areas of expertise relate to many of the world’s key contemporary crises: crisis of leadership, crisis of the nation-state, social and political effects of economic crises, refugee crises, as well as the EU’s current institutional/identity crisis and the rising tide of populism worldwide. As scholars who study the idea of crisis from a theoretical and empirical perspective, they were inspired to design a course on the COVID-19 crisis shortly after the onset of the pandemic.

“It’s amazing—our faculty’s eagerness to analyze this global crisis,” said SLU-Madrid Campus Director and Academic Dean, Paul Vita, Ph.D. “It’s their nature to transform it into an opportunity for students to learn how to make sense of it as well.”
The readings and assignments for the course will challenge students to think critically about the COVID-19 crisis, what it means for the world and societies, and how we can transform it into an opportunity for positive/radical change.
 “This course will not offer a study of the health policies of the pandemic,” course leader Associate Professor Laura Tedesco, Ph.D., explained. “We will debate communication strategies and the trade-off between constitutional, civil rights and the power of the state in an emergency period. We will analyze the policies of different countries and debate whether solutions were most efficient at the international (WHO, UN, G20), regional (EU), national or local/societal level.”

The class will also cover topics such as political communication strategies for reporting crises, how political leaders react to uncertainty, and how political systems manage crisis. In addition, the course will analyze different scenarios for the future and look at the role of the United States, China, Russia, the European Union, international organizations, and the global economy.
As scholars who study the idea of crisis from a theoretical and empirical perspective, the SLU-Madrid political science faculty were inspired to design the course shortly after the onset of the pandemic. This initiative follows several others recently developed by the department to focus on key contemporary crises:

In recent semesters, political science faculty have further enriched the study of contemporary crises in their classes by bringing renowned specialists to campus. Examples include former President of Spain Felipe González, Martin Scheinin, professor at the European University Institute in Firenze; Daniel Dombey, Madrid correspondent for the Financial Times; Israel Butler, head of advocacy at the Liberties Network; and Belén Rey, professor of economics at the Complutense University. 

POLS 2390 Key Contemporary Crisis: COVID-19 will be co-taught by faculty from SLU’s St. Louis and Madrid campuses. It will also feature guest speakers from prestigious American and non-American universities and institutions, such as Columbia University, American University,  and the German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA).