The University of Connecticut recently introduced a course on the COVID-19 pandemic that enrolled more than 5,000 students, making it the most popular class in the university’s history, according to school faculty.
The one-credit multidisciplinary course, which started April 6 and wraps up its first cohort today, was taught in three, weeklong modules: one about the science of viruses, another about public health and the last about business and societal effects, said Ruth Kustoff, a UConn senior strategist for online learning and workforce development who is overseeing the course.
“What we’re hoping is that it helps students understand the current reality,” Kustoff said. “We wanted to provide an opportunity for students to have credible information that can help them in their day-to-day life.”
About 4,000 undergraduate students and 1,000 UConn staff and faculty members enrolled in the course, which was taught entirely online, Kustoff said. The curriculum was formulated by faculty across multiple UConn schools and departments including public health, nursing, UConn Health and business, among others.
Kustoff also wants to offer UConn alumni the opportunity to take the course, she said.
One of the challenges in teaching a course on the pandemic is the facts on the ground are continuously changing, Kustoff said, which is why the course will evolve as the situation does. It’s possible it could become a full three-credit course in the fall.
“The plan is to keep updating it in relation to the changes that are happening around us,” Kustoff said.
Even as it offers a course on the pandemic, UConn is still without answers on what effect COVID-19 will ultimately have on its future as an institution.
UConn President Thomas Katsouleas this week told the board of trustees the university could lose up to $121.6 million next fall semester if its campuses remain largely closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Courses at UConn moved online in March, but Katsouleas this week said the administration will come to a decision by June 30, on whether UConn’s four campuses in Storrs, Stamford, Hartford and Avery Point will open in the fall.