COVID 19: A Global Crisis Examined

GLST 287, Fall 2020 Resources Page

COVID-19: A Global Crisis Examined

Resource page for participants electing the no-credit option


The Science of COVID 19 Part I:  The What, Where, and How of Coronaviruses

Dr. Evan Eskew, Assistant Professor of Biology

Dr. Shannon Seidel, Assistant Professor of Biology

The Science of COVID 19 Part II:  Testing and Vaccine Development

Dr. Mary Ellard-Ivey, Professor of Biology

Reflections from PLU Alumni Panel:  Perspectives from the Field of Emergency Medicine


  • Dr. Brian Beerbower ’10,  MD, MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital
    • Unseen Morbidity from the COVID-19 Pandemic and Response
  • Hon. Nathan Schlicher ’00, MD, JD, MBA, FACEP, Regional Director, Quality Assurance Northwest Emergency Physicians of Team Health; Associate Director, Team Health Litigation Support Department
    • Science and Politics at War: A COVID Case Study

Moderated by Dr. Sergia Hay, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Wild Hope Center

Christian Responses to Plagues and Public Health: Two Perspectives from the History of Religion

Dr. Brenda Llewellyn Ihssen, Associate Professor of Early and Medieval Christian History

Class Readings:

John of Ephesus

Cyprian of Carthage

Reflection questions:

  1. Cyprian writes, ‘And further, beloved brethren, what is it, what a great thing is it, how pertinent, how necessary, that pestilence and plague which seems horrible and deadly, searches out the righteousness of each one.’ His thesis is that an individual’s unique response to pain and suffering, disease and death is a test of faithfulness to one’s ideology and an indication of one’s character, and this is an example of how these events have shaped his theological views and social activity. Choosing one his biblical examples—Job, Tobias, Abraham, Paul oran example of your own—describe the limits and possibilities of this thesis to those inside or outside of faith traditions as you have witnessed them in our current pandemic climate, and explain how these events have shaped your figures theological views and social activity.
  2. Along with the vivid descriptions of the physical toll the plague took on the city, along with the terrifying images of thousands of corpses being dumped into the sea, John of Ephesus, emphasized with several stories accounts of those who tried to profit off of the plague. This is one example of how a public health crisis can introduce specific economic and social injustices in Syria at that time. Why would this crime of looting the gold and silver of the dead be particularly heinous? Why, if the dead are dead, does it matter?
  3. John of Ephasis writes “And for whom would he who wrote be writing?” (76.82). This is a poignant statement that provides insight into his state of mind. That said, why do these men write? How might documenting the public and graphic effects of their society’s disease or plague assist them internally (spiritually, emotionally or mentally) as they are situated as leaders during a traumatic moment?

What Can the K’iche’ Creation Stories Teach Us About How to Live with the Existence of Plagues and Disease?

Dr. Carmiña Palerm, Associate Professor of Hispanic and Latino Studies and Affiliate Faculty of Native American and Indigenous Studies Program

Class Readings:

Popol Vuh: The Definitive Edition of the Mayan Book of the Dawn of Life and the Glories of Gods and Kings (Part 3)

Popol Vuh pre-reading notes:

I. Background

  • Today the Maya Quiché number 1 million, affiliated groups 6 million, that occupy the territories of Mexico (Chiapas, Yucatán, Tabasco), Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Belize.
  • During colonization by the Spaniards –monopoly of all major forms of visible public expression; drama, architecture, sculpture, painting, writing –even textile designs (women’s clothing) were banned because they carried complex messages within the weaving.
  • hundreds of hieroglyphic books were burned by missionaries
  • missionaries taught the Maya – the roman alphabet in order to translate the bible into Quiché language
  • as a form of resistance and in order to save their culture –scribes learned to use the roman alphabet in order to transcribe their own creation accounts –(oral tradition and hieroglyphics) –to preserve it and hide it.
  • the Popol vuh was thus written in roman alphabet in their language in order to preserve the story that lay behind in ruins.
  • 1701-1703 –Francisco Ximénez from the Dominican order found the text in the basement of a church in Chichicastenango and translated it into Spanish.
  • The Original contained both hieroglyphics and writing –but Ximénez just translated the roman writing because he could not decipher the hieroglyphics. Rich relationship between writing and hieroglyphics has been forever lost.
  • Dennis Tedlock, in his preface and introduction, talks about the process of translation and transcription. You can read more about Dennis Tedlock here.

II. Structure of Popol vuh

  • Book 1: Creation of the Earth, animals and attempts to create first humans
  • Book 2: Stories of Seven Macaw, his family, and their defeat
  • Book 3: Epic stories, of Hunahpu and Xbalanque and their fathers, and their battles with the Lords of Xibalba (this is the section we are reading for this course)
  • Book 4: Creation of first humans and linear history of the Maya Quiche.

III. Characters (Tedlock translation)


One Hunahpu, Seven Hunahpu: the elder and younger sons, respectively, of Xpiyacoc and Xmucane. One Hunahpu is the husband of Egret Woman and the father of One Monkey and One Artisan. Both One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu become the fathers, by Blood Moon, of twins named Hunahpu and Xbalanque.

  • Egret Woman: the wife of One Hunahpu and the mother of One Monkey and One Artisan.
  • One Monkey, One Artisan: the sons of One Hunahpu and Egret Woman: half-brothers of Hunahpu and Xbalanque.
  • Hunahpu: a hunter and ball player, the elder twin brother of Xbalanque. Their mother is Blood Moon and their fathers, who jointly conceived them, are One and Seven Hunahpu (becomes the sun)
  • Xbalanque: a hunter and ball player the younger twin brother of Hunahpu. Their mother is Blood Moon and their fathers, who jointly conceived them, are One and Seven Hunahpu (becomes the moon).
  • Xibalba: the fearful world beneath the face of the earth. Ruled by the gods of the underworld. (names correlate to diseases and death, associated with blood).
  • One Death, Seven Death: lords who rank first and second among the rulers of Xibalba.
  • Blood Gatherer: fourth-ranking lord of Xibalba, father of Blood Moon.
  • Blood Moon: daughter of Blood Gatherer and mother of Hunahpu and Xbalanque. Becomes other moons.

Epidemics and Indian Country:  COVID and Colonialism

Dr. Suzanne Crawford-O’Brien, Professor of Religion and Chair of Native and Indigenous Studies

Click here to view the slideshow from October 14th.

Click here to view a related article by Dr. Suzanne Crawford-O’Brien published in Sacred Matters.

Ethical Decision Making During a Pandemic

Dr. Sergia Hay, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Wild Hope Center

Dr. Paul Menzel, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy

Click here to view the slideshow from the October 21st lecture.

Pre-lecture materials

Lecture Description:

What are ethically justified answers to the tension between individual freedom and public health in mask wearing, following stay-at-home orders, using challenge trials to speed up vaccine trials, and vaccine compliance? This session will focus on these specific issues after noting some of the other ethical tensions in the current pandemic – between limited resources and dire need, and patient will and the need for caregivers to act without clearly discerning what that will is. The frameworks of ethical reasoning provided by two influential moral theories often yield conflicting conclusions on specific issues. On these pandemic issues, do the conclusions they yield conflict or align? In any case, how persuasive are they?

Cooperating to Control COVID:  Global Governance and the Role of the World Health Organization

Dr. Ami Shah, Associate Professor of Global Studies and Anthropology

The slide presentation can be found here.

Prior to class, Dr. Shah has recommended that participants read these four pieces before the lecture and that you read them in the order listed:

  1. The Council on Foreign Relations: What Does the World Health Organization Do?
  2. The World Economic Forum: 5 Things COVID-19 has taught us about inequality
  3. The Washington Post: U.S. says it won’t join WHO-linked effort to develop, distribute coronavirus vaccine
  4. The Boston Globe: Vaccine Nationalism is Unfair and Unwise

Additionally, she suggests you may want to explore worldwide COVID-19 data provided by the WHO regarding number of cases, number of fatalities, etc., by country and region:

And, if you don’t mind his language/humor or his political critique, Dr. Shah recommends John Oliver’s segment on the WHO, which does a good job of explaining its funding, the purpose of US contributions, etc.

It’s Like Herding Chickens:  Social Psychology and the Understanding of Non-compliance with Pandemic Health-Directives

Dr. Michelle Ceynar, Professor of Psychology

Dr. Corey Cook, Assistant Professor of Psychology

Going Viral:  Ethics in the Use of Social Media During the Pandemic

Dr. Michael Artime, Assistant Professor and Chair of Political Science

View presentation slides here.

Anne Frank Trending:  The Covid-19 Pandemic and Holocaust Analogy

Dr. Lisa Marcus, Professor of English and Chair, Holocaust and Genocide Studies

Theatre During COVID-19:  How will the Story Be Told?

Tom Smith, Professor of Theater and Chair of the Department of Theatre & Dance

Art in the Times of COVID-19:  Depicting Pain, Restoring Hope

Dr. Giovanna Urdangarain, Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies

Click here to view the slideshow from December 9th’s class. 

Class preparation materials and film links can be found here.

The Experience of COVID 19 in PLU's Gateway Locations

Check out this panel discussion from International Education Week at PLU, featuring representatives from all of the Wang Center’s Gateway locations!