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UPDATED Pandemics past and present

  • Esyllt Jones

Free Non-Degree Course Open to All

Winter 2023 classes begin January 19th 3:00pm (see schedule below)

All classes are 3:00-4:30CST, in-person or online.

This is a rare and exciting opportunity to learn first-hand from internationally recognized scholars based at University of Manitoba. Online or in-person — your choice. There are five classes per term in 2022-2023, covering topics like:

  • Indigenous infectious disease history
  • Stigmatization and newcomer experiences
  • Literary accounts of plague
  • Global health, HIV/AIDS, and emerging diseases
  • Disease containment and vaccine hesitancy

Open to everyone, including students, faculty, health practitioners and the public.

We are accepting new registrants for the Winter 2023 portion of the course. For more information or to register email

Course Outline

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased interest in the intersections between past and present disease outbreaks and social responses to them. Humanities and social science scholars have discovered new opportunities for interaction with those in health care and medical sciences, and new public audiences. “Pandemics Past and Present” is a free, non-credential course. Students, teachers and researchers, public health workers and health practitioners, and interested members of the public are welcome to enrol. There are no entrance requirements. In order to ensure the best experience for everyone, you are asked to try to attend all lectures, and do some reading in advance. The classes are free, but participants may need to purchase some reading materials. Open access readings will be used as much as possible.


This course brings past infectious disease events into dialogue with the present, promoting a historically-based — and multidisciplinary — understanding of the factors shaping the relationship between pandemic/epidemic outbreaks and society. Instructors for the course will bring together diverse knowledges from community health, Indigenous, infectious disease, humanities and social sciences perspectives.

The course will make accessible current and timely scholarly research, using teaching practices intended to be inclusive for all learners. Themes in the course will include: ideas of race, gender, difference, and stigma during disease outbreaks; poverty, inequality and disease vulnerabilities; colonialism and Indigenous healing and forms of knowledge; cultural and literary interpretations of infectious disease; global health; public health responses; and scientific knowledge and its mobilization.

There is no formal evaluation and there are no course assignments or tests.

The ten modules will be led by a team of UM researchers. Individual class formats will vary according to the preferences of the instructor, but may include lectures and presentations, roundtables, guided reading, class discussion, guest speakers, and a variety of online materials such as podcasts and short videos.

Classes will be virtually accessible via Zoom for registrants unable to attend in-person. Opportunities will be available for those connecting remotely to engage in class discussion using OWL meeting technology.

Fall 2022 Schedule

Thinking about pandemics October 6, 3:00-4:30 pm
– Introduction to the course; discussion; meet and greet with refreshments

Decolonization, Indigenous Experience and the History of Disease October 20, 3:00-4:30 pm
– Kiera Ladner (Political Studies)

Epidemics, Disease Control and Public Health November 3, 3:00-4:30 pm
– James Hanley (History, Univ of Winnipeg) and Margaret Haworth-Brockman (National Collaborating Centre for Infectious Diseases)

Outbreak narratives, race, and the stigmatization of newcomers November 17, 3:00-4:30 pm
– Lori Wilkinson (Sociology)

The Plague and Shakespeare December 1, 3:00-4:30 pm
– Judith Owens (English, Film, Theatre and Media)

Winter 2023

Emerging Disease Challenges January 19, 2023
– Jason Kindrachuk (Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases)

Vaccine Decision-Making and Access February 2, 2023
– Michelle Driedger (Community Health Sciences)

Global health and HIV/AIDS March 9, 2023
– Lyle McKinnon (Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases)

Mental Health, Wellbeing, and Pandemics March 23, 2023
-Caroline Piotrowski (Community Health Sciences)

The short and long-term socio-economic impacts of disease events April 6, 2023
– Souradet Shaw (Community Health Sciences)