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Pandemics past and present

  • Esyllt Jones

Free Course Open to All

begins OCTOBER 6, 2022 **Please note: all class times are CST**

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.

Enrolment is limited, so sign up now at

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.

REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED TO ATTEND THE SEMINARS AND ACCESS COURSE MATERIALS. Registration is limited to 40 in-person/hybrid participants. A limited number of spaces will be available for on-line only participation. To register, email

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. Those who attend 7 out of 10 weeks in fall 2022-winter 2023 will receive letters of participation from the project leads. (This is NOT formal UM recognition)

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.

TENTATIVE 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
– Esyllt Jones (History) 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 (dates TBA)

Vaccine Decision-Making and Access
Michelle Driedger (Community Health Sciences)

The short and long-term socio-economic impacts of disease events
-Souradet Shaw (Community Health Sciences)

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

Global health and HIV/AIDS
-Lyle McKinnon (Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases)

Emerging Disease Challenges
– Jason Kindrachuk (Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases)