As many students’ summer plans have been interrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has provided new summer course opportunities for both current and incoming students.
In response to the coronavirus, instructors at UNL have created new and adapted existing summer courses in order to provide students with real-life experiences, material focusing on current events and conversations with people in foreign countries.
Executive Vice Chancellor Elizabeth Spiller told Nebraska Today the university recognizes students are losing summer opportunities, including internships, studying abroad, employment and travel.
“While many of these experiences are no longer available to them, we want to make sure alternative educational opportunities are accessible,” Spiller said to Nebraska Today.
New first-year students can take advantage of a new program called the Husker Starter Pack, which will allow students to enroll in courses that fulfill degree and ACE requirements.
Students who plan to start at UNL in the summer or fall 2020 terms can enroll in any three-credit course during the second five-week summer session, beginning July 13. The courses will be offered at a rate of $116.67 per credit hour to both resident and non-resident students. As a result, financial aid will not apply to the courses.
Nebraska residents with financial need may qualify for up to $1,400 in financial support, according to the Husker Starter Pack website. Students can apply on MyRED with the Summer Aid Application under Financial Aid after registering for classes.
"We are hopeful [that] participating in this program will provide an accessible way for our incoming first-year students to connect with fellow Huskers, their faculty members and make progress on their academic career," Abby Freeman, director of admissions, said.
For the summer 2020 semester, tuition will be set at the in-person tuition rate for both resident and non-resident students, and UNL has waived the university program and facilities fee and the online course fee.
In April, Spiller said UNL would make more opportunities available to students, and more than 100 courses have been added to the summer catalog. Some of the new courses address different aspects of COVID-19 and its effects around the world. The following courses will be available during the summer, and they will provide opportunities to gain real-life experience and focus on helping students understand pandemics.
All interviews were done through email, with the exception of Jemalyn Griffin’s interview, which was conducted over the phone.
ADPR 491.291 Special Topics — Branding Yourself in Today’s Market
Jemalyn Griffin, an assistant professor of practice of advertising and public relations, said she wanted a class to show students how to be resilient and marketable in today’s climate. In the course, available to undergraduate and graduate students, Griffin said students will create their own personal brand by articulating their “dream job” and tailoring their individual classwork to that industry. Students will create portfolios, improve their interview skills and learn what is needed for that specific job. Students will also be required to complete an interview with a professional they would potentially want to work for.
“What I really hope that my students get to take away from this class is how to better articulate their value proposition as a working citizen,” Griffin said. “I really hope what this class does is empowers young people to see their worth and to communicate their knowledgeable abilities to future employers.”
AECN 396.100 Independent Study — COVID-19 and Food Supply Chains
Azzeddine Azzam, an agricultural economics professor, said students will be able to investigate if and how the food supply chain has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic in this guided independent research course. In the course, students will learn how a food product of the student’s choice moves from farmer to consumer. Students will also submit a research report for potential publication in “RURALS: Review of Undergraduate Research in Agricultural and Life Sciences.”
“With COVID-19 upending the food system, a system we take for granted, I thought this summer offers an opportunity for students to discover through research what it takes to get their favorite food products to the grocery shelf,” Azzam said.
JOMC 380.800 Global Pandemic News in the Age of Social Media
Gary Kebbel, a journalism professor, decided to adapt his already-existing JOMC 380 course to have a focus on pandemics. The class focuses on two forms of journalism: the traditional journalistic sources of news, in which journalists work to verify the truth before reporting it, and social media, which allows anyone to publish information — whether it be accurate or inaccurate. Kebbel said the adapted course will focus on social media as a majority of information comes from it, but it will also provide skills needed to verify the information. Through Zoom, students will talk with journalists who are currently writing stories about COVID-19 as well as with other students in at least one other country.
“I hope this class teaches students media verification life skills and the understanding that the world is a fun place to get to know, not a terrible place to hide from,” Kebbel said.
JOMC 391.801 Special Topics — Pandemics in Literature and Literary Journalism
Maria Marron, a journalism professor, said students in her course will explore a large variety of coverage of pandemics in popular literature, media and literary journalism throughout time. Marron said governments have utilized similar techniques throughout history to deal with plagues or pandemics, including social distancing and quarantine, and they have suffered similar consequences, such as wealthier individuals being able to escape densely populated areas. Marron will focus on literature so that students can employ the teachings in in-depth reports as they progress through their careers.
“I think the course will be a great way for students to understand how pandemics always have affected humankind and to explore them through great writers and great journalism,” Marron said.
UHON 289H.800 University Honors Seminar — Saving the World: Global Leadership in a Time of Pandemics
Patrice McMahon, a political science professor and director of the University Honors program, said her UHON 298H seminar has focused on several complex global challenges, but due to the pandemic, she designed a course to help students better understand the virus as well as to empower them with information on how other countries are effectively managing the crisis. The seminar will also include discussions with faculty from UNL and the University of Nebraska Medical Center and community leaders from across Nebraska.
“In the case of the current COVID-19 pandemic, we saw differences in countries immediately,” McMahon said. “After this class, students will have a very good understanding of this biological threat, some of the similarities and differences with previous [viruses] and a sense of [how] countries are responding — and why!”
UNL’s Department of Modern Languages and Literatures
Nora Peterson, chairperson of UNL’s Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, developed the course Current Events with Emphasis on COVID-19 Crisis and Impacts for students to engage across three languages: French, German and Spanish. Each class will be taught by two professors and will allow students to explore newspapers, blogs and journals related to current events — focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic related to their specific language.
“We’re excited to give students the opportunity to think about cultural events from a linguistic and cultural standpoint,” Peterson said.
FREN 391.501 Special Topics — Current Events and the Effects
Alex Claussen and Eddie Schooler, both graduate teaching assistants, will be instructing the course to allow students to specifically look at France’s government response and how it changed over time with new information. Claussen said by the end of the course, students will be able to discuss the virus’s effects on a country other than America and its population as well as imagine a ‘new normal’ as the virus continues to move to its next stage. Students will meet daily over Zoom to discuss articles, videos and other sources. Students will also have the opportunity to have conversations with native speakers to learn how their lives have been impacted by the virus.
“I am tremendously excited to co-teach this course since it recognizes the centrality of COVID-19 in our lives but allows us to use the virus as a window to understanding another culture,” Claussen said. “I can’t wait to hear students’ perspectives and to engage in a lively conversation about how the virus has affected people around the world.”
GERM 391.501 Special Topics — Current Events and the Effects
Chris Etheredge and Brent Koenigsman, graduate teaching assistants, will lead students through a discussion and interview-based class to expose them to German news articles and journals regarding current events. The class will meet daily via Zoom and will conduct interviews once a week with Germans from a variety of backgrounds to find out how the current situation is affecting them. Etheredge said the interviews and course materials will primarily be in German, but class discussions will mostly be in English. Koenigsman said he finds it important for the students, a majority of whom haven’t traveled outside of the U.S., to understand how other countries are handling this pandemic.
“It allows us to turn a critical eye to our own system and how we’ve handled it here. It shows us what we have to learn from people outside of our immediate sphere of influence,” Koenigsman said. “I think our interviews will also foster a sense of unity and understanding.”