Christian Witness and Ministry in a COVID-Shaped World: Archaeology, History, Disasters, and Plagues

  • July 13, 2020–July 31, 2020

COVID-19 is not the first pandemic that humans have suffered—and survived. What can we learn from the ways that our predecessors responded to past crises?

Course overview

For many of us, the COVID-19 pandemic is a novel crisis, unlike anything we've faced before. However, if we look beyond the scope of our lives, we realize that humanity has faced many similar pandemics, plagues, and disasters.

What were the impacts of those events, and how did people respond? Were their responses effective or not, and what can we learn from them? What are some commonly-held myths about these events? How can we make sense of COVID-19 in light of the past?

In this class, you’ll study human reactions to crises of all sorts, from the earliest human records up through the medieval period. You’ll examine case studies, eye-witness accounts, and archaeological finds. With this evidence, you’ll learn to think critically about disasters, and you’ll be well equipped to evaluate the ways we're responding to COVID-19 today.

What you'll learn

  • Expand your perspective—This course isn’t just for history buffs. It’s for all university students, church leaders, or adult learners who are seeking or giving guidance in this historic moment.
  • Lessons we can use—You'll evaluate the ways that people--and Christians in particular--responded to crises in the past. You'll reflect on the lessons we can learn from their successes and failures, and what things should define a Christian response to large-scale challenges like a pandemic.
  • In their own voices—Your reading includes firsthand accounts of ancient plagues by people who witnessed them and tried to make sense of them. You’ll search their words for insight we can apply to the COVID-19 situation today.

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.


The registration deadline has passed.