Man sitting alone wearing a mask on busThe CU Denver College of Liberal Arts and Sciences presents a 
FREE summer lecture series

June 8 - August 3, 2020
Mondays and select Wednesdays from 3:30pm - 4:45pm

Offered as a Zoom webinar, this program is free and open to the public. 

The series has now concluded - thanks to everyone who participated!

University students will be able to transfer the lecture series into one undergraduate level course credit by attending all lectures and submitting response papers about each lecture at the end of the series. An essay prompt will be announced by the moderator at the beginning of each lecture. CLAS will cover the cost of the undergraduate credit for the first 100 CU Denver students who request it at the end of the term. Additionally, individuals may sign up to receive noncredit professional development CEU credit for a fee. Please scroll to the bottom of this page for details on signing up for academic credit and CEUs. All lectures will be recorded and made available on the CLAS YouTube channel after they are presented. 

As you can imagine, many CLAS students have been impacted by COVID-19. If you are in a position to be able to give, please consider donating to our student scholarship fund:


Series Description

When we celebrated the new year of 2020, no one had heard of the disease COVID-19. Today, fewer than six months later, we have watched as over ten million people globally have had confirmed cases of the disease, while over 500,000 have died. It's no secret that COVID-19 has and will continue to alter the world we live in today. This global health crisis – which has overwhelmingly affected vulnerable populations like those living in poverty, the elderly, people of color, displaced persons, and indigenous peoples – has also created a global economic crisis, with unemployment numbers like we haven’t seen since the Great Depression. We are also facing a social crisis, as people’s lives have been dramatically changed in a very short period of time. As individuals move through the different phases of being shut in and slowly re-entering public spaces, we can expect transformations in healthcare, in the economy, in our social interactions, and in the language we use to talk about health and disease. In this lecture series, join us as our faculty experts share their unique perspectives on how this global pandemic will impact us now and in the future. 

Series Moderator

Marjorie Levine-Clark, PhD, is Professor of History and Associate Dean for Diversity, Outreach, and Initiatives. She has published widely on histories of gender, health, labor, and welfare. She is the author of two books, Beyond the Reproductive Body: The Politics of Women’s Health and Work in Early Victorian England (Ohio State University Press, 2004) and Unemployment, Welfare, and Masculine Citizenship: “So Much Honest Poverty” in Britain, 1870-1930 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). Her current project is tentatively titled “Unemployment, Health, and the Body in Britain: From the New Poor Law to Thatcher.”

Schedule of Lectures

The COVID-19 Epidemic: Epidemiology, Models, and Policy
Jonathan Samet, MD, MS
Monday, June 8, 3:30pm - 4:45pm

This lecture provides a broad overview of the field of epidemiology and its role in investigating epidemics in the search for solutions. It will cover infectious disease modeling, a key tool for predicting the course of epidemics and anticipating the consequences of interventions intended to slow and arrest epidemics. This presentation will describe how modeling has been used to guide policies for controlling COVID-19 in Colorado. 

Jonathan Samet, the Dean of the Colorado School of Public Health, is a pulmonary physician and epidemiologist. His research has focused on the environment and the lung, including air pollution, tobacco, and radon. He is leading the Colorado COVID-19 Modeling Group.

Essay Prompt: What is required for an epidemic to occur?

How to Avoid Misinterpreting Data About an Epidemic
jimi adams, PhD
Monday, June 15, 3:30pm - 4:45pm

This session will focus on tools for correctly interpreting key elements of reporting on the pandemic. In particular these will include: unexpected consequences of intervention strategies, how to interpret testing results, measurement and interpretation limitations of vital data points, why models appear to be contradictory (but often aren’t), and related topics.

jimi adams is an Associate Professor in the Department of Health and Behavioral Sciences. His work addresses how social networks promote or constrain the spread of infectious diseases or novel ideas through populations.

Essay Prompt: Describe two or three key potential sources of misinformation about SARS-COV-2 or COVID-19, some strategies for identifying and avoiding that misinformation, and why it is important to do so. 

Pandemics in History
Gabriel Finkelstein, PhD
Wednesday, June 17, 3:30pm - 4:45pm

This lecture will review the history of epidemic disease in an attempt to offer some perspective on the current situation. It will remind us that diseases reveal as much about society as they do about biology.

Gabriel Finkelstein is an Associate Professor in the Department of History who teaches courses on disasters like mental illness, modern warfare, and weapons of mass destruction. His biography of the neuroscientist Emil du Bois-Reymond received an Honorable Mention for History of Science, Medicine, and Technology at the 2013 PROSE Awards, was shortlisted for the 2014 John Pickstone Prize (Britain’s most prestigious award for the best book in the history of science), and was named by the American Association for the Advancement of Science as one of the Best Books of 2014.

Essay Prompt: Do responses to biological, social, and political crises have commonalities?

Asian Americans as the Yellow Peril: From Coolie Competition to the COVID-19 Pandemic
Faye Caronen, PhD
Monday, June 22, 3:30pm - 4:45pm

This lecture will examine how the stereotype of Asians as the yellow peril was established in the United States, how this stereotype has been used in the last century and a half to justify anti-Asian legislation and to fuel anti-Asian sentiment, and offer suggestions on how we can offer support to Asian Americans experiencing racist attacks due the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Faye Caronan is an associate professor and chair of the Ethnic Studies Department. She is the author of Legitimizing Empire: Filipino American and U.S. Puerto Rican Cultural Critique published by the University of Illinois Press. Her current research focuses on the different manifestations of U.S. global power in the Pacific and on the different types of territorial citizenship and statuses. 

Essay Prompt: Define the Yellow Peril stereotype. Provide some examples of how the Yellow Peril stereotype resulted in discriminatory treatment or discriminatory legislation targeting Asian Americans.

Tradeoffs Between Contagion Protection and the Economy
Andrew Friedson, PhD
Monday, June 29, 3:30pm - 4:45pm

Nothing is free. This lecture will discuss policies to combat the spread of COVID-19, such as non-essential business closures, school closures, public gathering bans, and shelter-in-place orders. The discussion will focus on the latest research attempting to quantify the costs and benefits of these policies to get a sense of the tradeoffs between public health and economic activity that are being chosen.

Andrew Friedson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics at and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Health Systems Management and Policy at the Colorado School of Public Health. His research includes recent work on measuring the public health benefits and economic costs of public policies aimed at combating the spread of COVID-19. He teaches courses on the economics of healthcare and public health at CU Denver and CU Anschutz.

Essay Prompt: Would we expect lifting shelter-in-place orders to restart the economy?

The Ecology and Biology of COVID-19
CU Denver Department of Integrative Biology
Monday, July 6, 3:30pm - 4:45pm

Viral structure and replication: How does SARS-CoV-2 spread? How does washing your hands help prevent the spread? - Presented by Annika Mosier, PhD, Microbiologist

Physiological and Immune Responses: How does SARS-CoV-2 lead to respiratory distress? What exactly is a cytokine storm and why does SARS-CoV-2 cause it in some patients? - Presented by Laurel Beck, PhD, Physiologist

How are cures for COVID-19 being developed and when will we have one or more of them? - Presented by Amanda Charlesworth, PhD, Cell Biologist

​Ecology of Spillover: Where did this novel coronavirus come from and how do we know it? - Presented by Laurel Hartley, PhD, Infectious Disease Ecologist

Essay Prompt: How does viral structure inform SARS-CoV-2 ecology (where it came from), disease presentation in humans (physiology/immunology), and potential treatments?​

Outbreaks, Carriers, and Patient Zero: How Language Shapes our Understanding of Pandemic
Lisa Keränen, PhD
Monday July 13, 3:30pm - 4:45pm

The way we talk about pandemic matters. This session explores how people have talked about outbreaks in history and explores the connections between language and thinking. We will analyze outbreak narratives across official, entertainment, and technical contexts.

Lisa Keränen is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication at the University of Colorado Denver. Her teaching and research concern the rhetorics of health and medicine, biosecurity, and bioethics. Her current book project is called Viral Apocalypse: Biosecurity, Risk, and Resilience from Anthrax to Covid. She is a past president of the Association for the Rhetoric of Science, Technology, and Medicine.

Essay Prompt: Explain how language matters to how people understand pandemics. In your response, be sure to include examples from specific language devices used during COVID-19. 

Psychosocial Well-being During a Pandemic
Kristin Kilbourn, PhD
Wednesday July 15, 3:30pm - 4:45pm

The COVID-19 pandemic is unlike any major stressor that we have encountered in our lifetimes. We are managing ever changing uncertainty, fear, loneliness and grief while attempting to calculate the risks versus benefits of various behaviors that we previously took for granted. This lecture will present the most recent information on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental well-being and strategies to manage some of the unique stressors associated with a global pandemic.

Kristin Kilbourn is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Colorado Denver. She is a Clinical Psychologist who is involved in teaching, clinical training of doctoral students and health psychology research. She is particularly interested in stress-management interventions aimed at decreasing distress and promoting well-being in both healthy populations and those who are living with serious medical illness.

Essay Prompt: How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted mental health and psychosocial well-being? Please provide several examples from the lecture.

Geographic Perspectives on Emerging Infectious Disease, Global Pandemics, and COVID-19
Peter Anthamatten, PhD
Monday, July 20, 3:30pm - 4:45pm

For decades, many scholars have observed that emerging and resurging infectious disease (EIDs) have occurred with increasing frequency over the last several decades, arguing that the question is not whether a global pandemic would occur, but rather where, when, and how. This lecture will explore the underlying causes of EIDs, their potential to lead to a global pandemic, and how the widespread degradation of the natural environment has led to increased risk of diseases such as COVID-19.

Peter Anthamatten is an Associate Professor who arrived at CU Denver in 2008, after earning his PhD in Geography and Master’s degree in Environmental Health. He is a coauthor of An Introduction of Geography of Health, a class he teaches at CU Denver. While Peter engages in a broad range of topics in his research, the focus of his work explores the links between built urban environments and human health.

Essay Prompt: Briefly describe an environmental policy change or other specific measures that could reduce the likelihood of emerging infectious diseases and potential global pandemics. Explain how the policy or measure would have the intended effect.

A Critical Medical Anthropological Perspective on COVID-19 Transmission and Response
Stephen Koester, PhD
Wednesday, July 22, 3:30pm - 4:45pm

In public health we often think of individual and group susceptibility to disease in terms of vulnerability and resilience. This presentation employs a critical medical anthropological perspective, and in particular the concepts of structural violence and structural vulnerability to highlight conditions that influence or determine the degree to which certain groups are vulnerable to COVID-19 and the extent to which they are able to avoid contagion. In particular, it demonstrates the utility of these theoretical concepts by examining the government response to “essential” but low paid workers.

Stephen Koester is a professor of Anthropology (retiring). Steve studies health issues among marginalized populations, most notably bloodborne disease transmission. He has been a visiting Behavioral Scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the recipient of NIH grants, and a Fulbright Research and Teaching Scholar at the Hanoi School of Public Health. His current work includes opioid overdose, homelessness, and a study examining the informal economy in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. 

Essay Prompt: How would you respond to someone who says that the COVID-19 outbreaks in meatpacking plants are a result of the way the mostly immigrant workers live. What evidence could you provide that would indicate that they are structurally vulnerable?


Guest Speaker: Don Stull is Professor emeritus at the University of Kansas. Don is an applied cultural anthropologist who has conducted basic and applied research throughout the United States. For the past 30 years his work has focused on the meat and poultry industry in North America, rural industrialization and rapid growth communities, and industrial agriculture's impact on farmers, food-processing workers, and rural communities. Read Dr. Stull's forthcoming article, Making Meat in the Time of COVID-19. 

The Mathematics and Statistics of COVID-19
Audrey Hendricks, PhD
Weldon Lodwick, PhD, Masoud Asadi-Zeydabadi, PhD, and Francis Newman, MS, DABR
Monday, July 27, 3:30pm - 4:45pm

Part 1

The first part of the session will cover Statistics in the News in the time of COVID-19 focusing on simple statistics concepts to help people be more informed and critical consumers of statistics in news and journal articles. Topics will include correlation vs. causation, understanding uncertainty and the evolving nature of COVID-19 data, and the pros and cons of common COVID-19 statistics.

Audrey Hendricks is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematical and Statistical sciences with secondary appointments in Biostatistics & Informatics, the Colorado Center for Personalized Medicine, and the Human Medical Genetics and Genomics Program. She is passionate about data science literacy for all and removing barriers to learning. Dr. Hendricks’s research focuses on collaborative projects and statistical method development to better understand the complex nature of human diseases and traits. Recently, this includes the development of methods and user-friendly software to increase the utility and equity of publicly available genetic data, especially for diverse populations. She is proud to mentor many amazing graduate students and to have an active and dynamic undergraduate research group working on important statistical challenges in human genetics and genomics.

Part 2

In the second part of this presentation, we will discuss how intelligent geographic systems are applied to processes occurring in time and geographical space and how to extract information from events in which position and time are an integral part of the input. The analysis, which we call Topological Weighted Centroid (TWC), is based on physics principles and the underlying mathematics is associated with extracting the model from the data. When applied to disease dynamics, TWC identifies the source and spread of the disease in time and space, COVID-19 in this case. We will apply the model to the COVID-19 outbreak in Iran, Italy, and USA.

Weldon Lodwick is a Full Professor in the Department of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences and director of the Center for Computational and Mathematical Biology. His field of specialty is Uncertainty Analysis, Interval Analysis, Fuzzy Set Theory, Optimization, and Applied Mathematics in general. He has worked on both on intelligent geographic information systems and differential equations applied to Dengue fever in Brasil, models of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the E. Coli outbreak in Germany, as well as protein molecule conformation problems with a nuclear magnetic research laboratory.  


View presentation slides for Part 1  |  View presentation slides for Part 2



Masoud Asadi-Zeydabadi an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics. His research interest mainly is in the nonlinear dynamics particularly with the application in biophysics and medicine. He has worked on diseases outbreak using an artificial adaptive system that is called Topological Weighted Centroid (TWC). TWC method which is an intelligent geographic technique is developed based on the concept of statistical thermodynamics. Investigating of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the E. Coli outbreak in Germany, and COVID-19 in USA, Italy and Iran are some examples of TWC application in epidemic outbreak. 

Francis Newman is an Associate Professor Emeritus in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Colorado Cancer Center and Associate Director of the Center for Computational and Mathematical Biology (CCMB). He was Chief Physicist in the Department of Radiation Oncology for over 17 years. He was responsible for the delicate and crucial calculations around the linear accelerator vaults of the Anschutz Cancer Pavilion at the University of Colorado Cancer Center. Prior to his tenure as Chief Physicist, he published ground-breaking papers that were the first to use human radiological images and artificial neural networks. During his tenure in the two departments, he developed the first commercial optimization system for the computerized treatment planning of cancer using radiotherapy.

Students should answer ONE of the following two prompts:

Essay Prompt #1: Describe the basic premise of statistics, including the terms population, sample, and inference. Describe and provide an example about how this basic premise of statistics can be used to understand generalizability, and cause and effect in COVID-19 studies and news articles.

Essay Prompt #2: What are the key points of TWC? How does it compare to the SIR model, besides one being data driven and the other model rate of change driven?

In This Together: Herd Immunity, Vaccines, and Individual Choices         
Jennifer Reich, PhD
Monday, August 3, 3:30pm - 4:45pm

Healthcare decisions are deeply personal. Yet infectious disease reveals how our personal choices inevitably impact others. Drawing on research on why parents reject vaccines for their children, this talk examines perceptions of vaccines and different legal mechanisms governments can use to incentivize vaccine use. In particular, we will evaluate why vaccines work best when used by a critical mass of people, and how we balance personal liberty and community responsibility.

Jennifer Reich is a Professor of Sociology and Director of the University Honors and Leadership Program. She is author of two award-winning books, Fixing Families: Parents, Power, and the Child Welfare System and Calling the Shots: Why Parents Reject Vaccines, and is co-editor of the book, Reproduction and Society. Her work has been featured in media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, and Newsweek, and on the Netflix show, Bill Nye Saves the World. She teaches classes on healthcare, family, and reproductive politics.

Essay Prompt: How should we balance personal preferences and community responsibilities when it comes to infectious disease response? What do we gain and what do we lose by doing it the way you suggest?

View additional resources from Dr. Reich:
Vox Article
Washington Post Article
TEDxMileHigh Talk

Academic Course Credit

University students who would like to receive one undergraduate level course credit must attend or view all lectures and submit response papers about each lecture at the end of the series. Students who opt in for credit will be enrolled in the course ISMA 3000 COVID-19: Colorado & Beyond for a letter grade. Students should prepare a one-page, 400 to 500-word essay based on the prompt for each of the 12 lectures. Review the rubric for course essays

The deadline to submit the enrollment form for credit is August 4, 2020 at 5pm MST (enrollment is now closed). Please allow a few business days for enrollments to be processed. After students are enrolled in the course, they will receive access to the course learning management shell in Canvas. Students must individually upload their 12 essays in Canvas to be graded and evaluated for credit. The deadline for students to upload their 12 essays after they are enrolled is August 11, 2020 at 5pm MST. Please do not submit an enrollment form unless you are prepared to upload all 12 essays.

While participation in the webinar was free, there is a $75 cost associated with the undergraduate credit. CLAS will cover the cost of the credit for the first 100 CU Denver students who submit an enrollment form by 5pm MST on August 4th and successfully upload all 12 essays into Canvas. In order to be eligible for the $75 waiver, students must have either:

  • Enrolled in a CU Denver undergraduate program and have actively taken a course within the past semester
  • Recently been admitted in to a CU Denver undergraduate program with a start date of either Summer 2020 or Fall 2020
  • Actively taken a CU Succeed course within the past semester

If you are not one of the first 100 students to submit your essays or if you do not meet the eligibility requirements, you will be billed $75.


In addition to academic course credit, participants may elect to sign up to receive noncredit Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for the lecture series. This option is attractive for those who want to formalize their participation in the series on a noncredit transcript that can be provided to employers or others. While the webinar is free, there is a $150 cost associated with the CEUs. Continuing Education Units are based on attendance hours, so participants must keep track of which sessions they attend or view.

If you would like to receive CEUs for the noncredit course NCCL 0001 Non-Credit CLAS Experience: COVID-19: Colorado & Beyond, please complete the enrollment form by August 10, 2020 at 5pm MST (enrollment is now closed). Please allow a few business days for enrollments to be processed. Once grades have been submitted, participants will be able to order a Noncredit CU Denver transcript reflecting the CEUs.


This lecture series is presented by CLAS Interdisciplinary Studies and CLAS Continuing and Professional Education.

For more information regarding the lectures, contact Associate Dean Marjorie Levine-Clark at

For more information regarding enrollment, contact Program Manager Kristen Kang Salsbury at