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Christian Responses to Pandemics in Historical Perspective

Course overview

As a Christian, you want to respond effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic. But how can you take a step back and reflect on our current challenges with a longer view? You have a powerful resource at your disposal: Christians who encountered similar crises throughout history.

Join expert historian Karin Maag to explore Christian contributions to public health across many eras. In this course, you will gain practical insight by observing how past Christian leaders and lay people confronted epidemics like polio, the 1918 flu, and the bubonic plague. You’ll see how Christians in the past handled the theological and public health challenges we face again today. You'll examine their successes and failures.

Course distinctives

Taught by an expert - Your instructor, Karin Maag, is a recognized and widely published expert in the history of Christianity.
Diverse topics - This course isn’t just for church history fans. Church leaders and anyone with an interest in the history of medicine, nursing, or public health will find much to engage with.
Relevant reading - You’ll hear from ancient and modern Christians in their own words. You’ll learn how Christian leaders responded to past epidemics from the bubonic plague of the middle ages to AIDS and Ebola in recent decades.

Course details

There is no set meeting time for this course. You will have opportunities for live collaboration with the professor and other students. If you choose to audit the course, plan to spend 10-14 hours over the course of three weeks reading, writing, watching videos, and having discussions. You won't be graded. If you are taking the course for academic credit, expect an additional 20 hours of course work. Credit-seekers are awarded a credit on a completed/not-completed basis without a letter grade.


Karin Maag's staff photo

Karin Maag

Karin Maag is the Director of the H. Henry Meeter Center for Calvin Studies, one of the world's foremost collections of works on or by John Calvin. She has directed the Center since 1997.

Outside of work, Professor Maag enjoys bike riding, baking, reading historical fiction, and choral singing.

Basic information

IDIS 170
$400 for college credit (1 semester hour)
$200 to audit the course
June 22–July 10, 2020
Karin Maag


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