Published On: Wed, Apr 1st, 2020

Pandemic course being offered to FAU students this summer

Photo provided by FAU School of Communication and Multimedia Studies

As current classes at Florida Atlantic University have already shifted to being fully online due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the university will offer most classes during the first-half and full terms of summer semester to be online as well.

One of these classes that will be offered fully online throughout the first-half will be “Covering a Pandemic,” that will be instructed by journalism professor Ilene Prusher. 

According to Prusher, the course will mostly focus on how local, state, national or even international media have been reporting on the coronavirus and how it has impacted daily life for not only journalists, but for doctors, politicians, business owners, and parents of children just to name a few.

“[Originally] I was planning on taking FAU students this summer on our first study abroad program within the School of Communication and Multimedia Studies to London, but we saw by early March that it was not going to happen,” Prusher said. “So, because the university said I can’t do the summer trip with students, [they asked if] there was a summer course I would like to teach instead and I said how about we do a special topics course on covering a pandemic.”

With FAU’s School of Communication and Multimedia Studies Director Dr. Carol Mills’ approval, Prusher was able to begin drafting what she wanted to include in the class, as students of all majors can register for it now to be counted toward an elective of three credits. 

While Prusher and other professors at FAU, who normally teach in a physical classroom, had to shift to online, this will be Prusher’s first class where she teaches with zero student interaction, in which all of the assignments will be completed through the university’s Canvas software in the format of quizzes and tests with written assignments that may require research and one’s own thinking.

“I do miss seeing my students in-person in the classroom because I like that aspect of interaction, but it’s what we have to deal with right now,” Prusher said. “[The course] will be a  response to the situation at how the media covers it and how we as a society are going to be changed by this, that I think it will appeal to a broad group of people, who do not necessarily want to be journalists.”

On top of media coverage, Prusher will also reference a book titled “Flu: The Story Of The Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus that Caused It,” written by Gina Kolata to understand the correlation between the influenza pandemic and coronavirus pandemic, and what was learned more than 100 years ago that can translate to today.

The class now has 22 students out of 50 possible registered to take it and will start May 16 and end June 26. 

“We didn’t predict that this is where we would be in 2020, but here we are and it’s important,” Prusher said. “It is very timely and the whole point of these special topics classes is to offer something topical.”

About the Author

Justin Baronoff - Justin Baronoff is currently a junior at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL. He is pursuing a major in Multimedia Journalism, where he hopes to some day write for major news media publications, such as the New York Times, ESPN, or even Billboard Magazine. In high school, Justin wrote for his high school newspaper for three years where he was a staff reporter for the first two years before becoming the Sports Editor in his final year. At FAU during the first semester of his sophomore year, he began interning for, where he wrote about and covered his favorite professional football team, the New York Jets, and his favorite professional basketball team, the New York Knicks. Then during his second semester of his sophomore year, he began writing for FAU's student newspaper, the University Press, as a contributing writer. Justin now serves a News Writer Intern for the Boca Raton Tribune.

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