COVID-19 provides experiential learning for ‘History of Natural Disasters’ class

It’s experiential learning at its finest. Students in the History of Natural Disasters (HIS 385/ENV 385) class have found themselves in the midst of a current and evolving case study with the coronavirus pandemic.

“Instead of just reading about history, we feel we need to study how our community is dealing with disaster right now,” says Sarah Frohardt-Lane, assistant professor of history and director of environmental studies. “What have we learned that helps them understand what is happening?”

To collect snapshots of what it’s like for members of the Ripon College community to live through the current crisis, the students are conducting an online survey, available here.

Respondents can submit as often as they like, whether that is once, from time to time, or every day for the foreseeable future, as some students are currently doing.

Responses are anonymous unless you choose to include your name, says Frohardt-Lane. She says including a name or alias does allow her to pair entries if the respondent writes more than once and track how an individual’s responses could change over the coming weeks. Students will not see the names.

“Personally, I have found it fascinating and heartbreaking to hear students’ stories as this unfolds incredibly quickly,” Frohardt-Lane says. “There’s a really interesting conversation developing.”


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