Naperville professors share knowledge on 'Ripples of COVID-19'

North Central College professors who are beginning to notice the ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on their areas of study are sharing their knowledge this summer through a series of free, public webinars.

Faculty members from 13 of the Naperville college's academic programs are recording lectures about the ways the pandemic is affecting issues such as communication, culture, literature, law, chemistry, voting, supply chains, the environment, technology, psychology and youth.

The series will be presented as 18 talks, which viewers can watch on YouTube, most with corresponding live Q&A sessions scheduled online shortly after the release of each video.

The first two talks, released earlier this week, feature Michael Blight, assistant professor of communication, explaining the pandemic's interplays with social media and misinformation; and Jinai Sun, assistant professor of Chinese, discussing the Chinese response to COVID-19.

Links to all of the presentations after they debut are available at, where links to watch future talks, submit questions and sign up for live Q&A sessions will be posted as they become available.

Next up in the series is Ann Keating, Dr. C. Frederick Toenniges professor of history, whose talk on "How Epidemics Have Shaped Chicago's History" is posted now leading up to a Q&A at noon Thursday.

Keating said the webinar series came together as faculty members looked for ways to offer insight and perspective on this health crisis as it is evolving.

For her part, Keating looks back at past diseases that have ravaged Chicago, including cholera, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, smallpox and the Spanish flu in 1918 and 1919. She said large infrastructure innovations, especially in water storage and treatment, came about as city leaders looked to improve health conditions.

"The big technology and construction projects in Chicago in the 19th century, many were tied to tying to dispel infections," Keating said.

Smaller communal behavior changes, such as the end of smoking on trains and buses and the use of handkerchiefs - and later, disposable tissues - instead of spitting in public, also resulted, she said.

Keating's talk points out differences in government response to the COVID-19 pandemic compared with previous epidemics. In the past, she said, local counties, cities and villages led the response as each set their own policies. Now, with greater and faster mobility among residents, the response is led by the state.

Future talks in the webinar series are set to debut between July 7 and Aug. 20.

Topics include: The Epidemiology of Coronaviruses; The Invisible Pandemic; COVID-19 and The Constitution; The Individualistic Root of the Resistance to Prevention in the U.S.; Thucydides? Again?; Voting During a Global Pandemic; The Black Death, 1348-1352; How the Pandemic Threatens Local Journalism (and What Might Be Done About It); From the Plague to COVID-19: Responding to Pandemic in Stories; The Chemistry of Anti-Viral Drugs Used to Treat COVID-19; Understanding the Physiological and Psychological Aspects of COVID-19; COVID-19 and the Environment; From Global to Local: Supply Chain Structure Evolution and COVID-19; and COVID-19 and Our Youth: Where We Are Now, and Where Are We Going?

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