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USM offering free public course on COVID-19 & pandemic history

Photo courtesy of TeleSouth Communications Inc.

Southern Miss is now offering a free public course aimed at helping everyone to better understand the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Titled “Understanding the Pandemic: A COVID-19 Public Service Short Course”, the online course will be taught by various USM faculty members through a series of videos. According to the university, Dr. Douglas Masterson, Senior Associate Provost for Institutional Effectiveness and Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, came up with the idea after realizing the amount of “misinformation and misunderstanding among the public—not only about the novel coronavirus’ immediate impact but about the history of pandemics in general.”

Designed to be easily understood and accessible to all, the online course can be completed at your own pace and takes about three hours total. Dr. Masterson explained that the course is a tool for you to become equipped with facts about the ongoing pandemic “in order to minimize one’s risk, both to self and others.”

“You’re not going to take this course and become a COVID-19 expert, but when you take this course you will have a better foundation for what this pandemic may mean for you. It’s going to help you navigate the things you’re hearing on the news,” Dr. Masterson said.

The following faculty, staff, and community medical professionals participated in the creation of the COVID-19 course:

  • Dr. Fengwei Bai, Associate Professor of Cell and Molecular Biology
  • Dr. Karen S. Coats, Dean of Graduate School, Professor of Cell and Molecular Biology
  • Susan Dobson, Lecturer of Public Health in the School of Health Professions
  • Dr. Janet Donaldson, Professor of Cell and Molecular Biology
  • Dr. Mohamed Elasri, Director of USM’s Center for Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, Professor of Cell and Molecular Biology
  • Steven Farrell, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Forrest General Hospital
  • John Fitzpatrick, MD, President, Hattiesburg Clinic
  • Stacie Frey, Instructor in the School of Child and Family Sciences
  • Dr. Tom Hutchinson, Director of USM’s Office of Online Learning
  • Dr. Jennifer Lemacks, Associate Professor of Nutrition and Food Systems
  • Dr. Stephanie M. McCoy, Assistant Professor of Kinesiology
  • Dr. Kristy McRaney, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychology
  • Dr. Stephanie K. Parks, Assistant Professor of Leadership and Advanced Nursing Practice
  • Dr. Scotty Piland, Professor of Kinesiology
  • Dr. Edward Sayre, Professor of Economics and International Development
  • Dr. Douglas Masterson, Senior Associate Provost for Institutional Effectiveness and Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry

“Education will play an important role in mitigating this pandemic. That’s what this course is all about,” Dean Coats said. “It brings together a group of faculty with diverse areas of expertise to inform the public about pandemics throughout history, the biology, epidemiology, and control of the coronavirus, and the impact of COVID-19 on personal and societal health and well-being. Each module is valuable as a stand-alone, but it is our hope that the complete course will provide a level of understanding of COVID-19 that equips us to discern fact from fiction.  Ultimately, it will prepare us to make better decisions about protecting ourselves and others from infection.”

The public service course can be taken by following this link.

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