Pandemics & Healing in History

Pandemics & Healing in History - IST 3241

Fall Term 2021

Hybrid HI-Depth Course; Advanced Masters Level History Seminar; 4 Credits

Start Date: Monday September 13, 2021

End Date:  Friday November 19, 2021

Schedule of Gathering Days Synchronous Class Meetings on Zoom:

**Attendance is Required for Full-Credit in Course**

Zoom Class Meeting/Session #1: Tuesday October 12th from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM (MST)

Zoom Class Meeting/Session #2: Wednesday Oct. 13th from 8:30 AM to 10:30 AM (MST)

Instructor: Prof. Albert Hernández, Ph.D.


Office Hours:--- By Appointment on Zoom or Mobile Call.

Teaching Assistant: Ms. Mona Moayedi, Doctoral Student in the I.S.T. and D.U. Joint Doctoral Program in the Study of Religion.


Guest Speaker: Dr. Karen Gieseker, PhD


Course Description/Synopsis:

This course examines how religious traditions and societies have responded to major medical crises and disasters across time and place. Through a series of historical case studies students will explore how disease, epidemics, and pandemics redefined medicine, healing and resiliency while also giving rise to new cultural movements, socio-economic structures, social justice concerns, and social activism.

Required Textbooks & Additional Course Readings:

Jeff Levin, Religion & Medicine: A History of the Encounter between Humanity's Two Greatest Institutions . (Oxford Univ. Press, 2020).  [Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-19-086735-5]

Frank M. Snowden, Epidemics & Society: From the Black Death to the Present. (Yale Univ. Press, 2020 edition).  [Paperback ISBN: 978-0-300-25639-0].

Additional Required Readings:---- All other readings from primary or from secondary sources, will be made available to students as PDF's on the "Files" tab of our Canvas course site, and will be listed in the "Course Summary" section of the Syllabus for each week of the course in which the reading is due to be completed with full author, title, and page number information. Any relevant internal or external links to required readings available in the public domain will also be listed in the "Course Summary" of the Syllabus for each secondary source, or for each primary source excerpt.

Degree Learning Goals

This course is designed with special emphasis on Iliff’s Degree Learning Goals for advanced History (HI) courses:

Historical Development and Expressions of Religious Traditions (HI): Demonstrate awareness of religious traditions as historically-situated movements that interacted and changed in relationship to their surrounding cultures and subcultures over time, resulting in various expressions located within and influenced by social structures and institutions, ideologies, historical events, ethnicity and gender, and cultural worldviews.

Course Objectives

(1) Students will demonstrate a basic/general understanding of the history of medicine and healing practices from Antiquity to the contemporary period as related to disease, epidemiology, and pandemics.

(2) Students will demonstrate a critical understanding of the range of religious, political, economic, and socio-cultural responses to major outbreaks of disease, epidemics and pandemics across selected historical examples and their geographic locations.

(3) Students will be able to think critically about how medical crises affect religious practices and traditions, theological doctrines and personal piety, moral values and social structures by studying and discussing different case studies from among a range of epidemiological disasters across time and place such as: leprosy, the Black Death, smallpox, tuberculosis, AIDS, and COVID-19.

(4) Students will develop an understanding of how healing and resiliency function alongside religious values and traditions in the aftermath of major outbreaks of disease, epidemics, and pandemics.

(5) Students will develop an understanding of the social justice concerns and social change impacts that have historically emerged from major outbreaks of disease, epidemics and pandemics.

Evaluation, Required Assignments, and Grading Procedures 


Students will participate in and complete a number of separate on-line Class Discussion/Open Forum Assignments on different topics/themes selected by the instructor during the course.

Each Class Discussion/Open Forum Assignment during the term will be worth 5 to 10 points for a total of 40% of the Final Grade in the course.   

In order to earn full-credit on each of the Group Discussion/Open Forum Assignments, each student must log-on and post responses two separate times to each group discussion topic/theme by the respective deadlines.

Posting a late initial response to the week's discussion topic will result in a point deduction for that week's Group Discussion/Open Forum.  Be sure that your first posting arrives in a timely manner so as not to hold-up or delay the discussion forum for the rest of the class. 

Please remember to log back in to the Group Discussion/Open Forum to post your second required response to the respective week's theme or topic, and to extend the conversation by engaging your classmates before moving on to next week's course topics and reading materials.

Students will be expected to have read the assigned textbook sections, and the assigned primary or secondary source readings for each respective discussion topic/theme, and to have viewed the week’s recorded lecture(s) before participating in the respective class discussion assignment posted on Canvas.  For further details see the Guidelines for Class/Group Discussion under the "Course Procedures & Expectations" section of the syllabus.


Schedule of Gathering Days Synchronous Class Meetings on Zoom:  **Attendance is Required for Full-Credit in Course**

Zoom Class Meeting/Session #1: Tuesday October 12th from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM

Zoom Class Meeting/Session #2: Wednesday Oct. 13th from 8:30 AM to 10:30 AM

MID-TERM ASSIGNMENT - Brief Proposal of Final Research Paper or Final Reflection Paper: 15%

Each student will write a minimum 2-page double-spaced summative proposal of her/his/their final Reflection Paper or Final Research Paper.

State your proposed paper’s thesis and/or topic then provide a summary of what you plan to work on, and explain why you chose this particular topic/theme. You must also provide a preliminary bibliography (BBL) of your proposed topic/theme. Four to eight primary or secondary sources from books, articles, and reputable websites is fine for this “preliminary” BBL.  (The instructor will provide sample Research Paper Proposals on Canvas for students who wish to view the format of this assignment). 

DUE DATE:  End of Week Six on Friday October 22nd, 2021 by 11:59 PM (MST), and submitted on Canvas in Word format. (No PDF format documents please). 


Each student will write a final paper of no more than 8 to 12 pages in length on a topic of her/his/their choosing covered in this history course as outlined in the students' mid-term Research Proposal assignment.  **More details forthcoming after start of Fall Term and will be discussed in-class during Gathering Days** 

These final papers may take the form of a Reflection Paper providing a summary or synopsis of your chosen topic followed by theological and historical reflection on the topic/theme, and its relevancy to your areas of ministerial, professional, or academic interest. In other words, a reflective essay on some aspect of pandemics and healing from among the array of themes, topics, historical periods and diseases covered in the course.  On the other hand, you may prefer to write a more traditional Research Paper on a topic/theme of your choosing with a historical and theological focus on a topic/theme covered during the course.

DUE DATE:  Monday November 22nd, 2021 by 11:59 PM (MST) and submitted on Canvas in Word format - No PDF format documents please.  


Course Procedures & General Expectations:

Accessing and Regularly Checking our Canvas Course Site

Guidelines for Online Group Discussions/Open Forums:

Writing Lab:

Grammar and organization are important for all written assignments.  Additional help is available from the Iliff Writing Lab . , which is available for students of any level who need help beginning an assignment, organizing thoughts, or reviewing a final draft.

Academic Integrity and Core Values:

All students are expected to abide by Iliff's Policies & Statement on Academic Integrity as published in the Masters Student Handbook , or the D.U. & I.S.T. Joint Doctoral Program's Statement on Academic Honesty, as published in the Joint PhD Student Handbook and as appropriate.  All participants in this class are expected to be familiar with Iliff’s Core Values.

Incomplete Grades:

Incomplete Grade petitions will be granted only in the case of documented and verifiable medical circumstances or other personal or family related emergencies. In the event a student requires this option, the final grade for the course will be assigned as a "Pass" (P) or "Fail" (F) grade.

Additional Policies & Services:

For information about A.D.A. Accommodations , or for information about additional Iliff School of Theology "Policies & Services" go to this tab/section of our Canvas course page or go there by clicking on this Link.

Sep 15, 2021WedWEEK ONE: Welcome Message, Course Overview, and The Historian's Craft of "Re-Constructing" the Pastdue by 05:59AM
Sep 17, 2021FriWEEK ONE: Medicine, Religion, & "Healing" Through the Ages. due by 05:59AM
Sep 20, 2021MonWEEK ONE: Group Discussion/Open Forum #1 - Due Sunday September 19, 2021due by 05:59AM
Sep 24, 2021FriWEEK TWO: The Quest for Healing: Disease, Pandemics, Religion, and Medicine through the Agesdue by 05:59AM
Sep 27, 2021MonWEEK TWO: Group Discussion/Open Forum #2 - Due Sunday September 26, 2021due by 05:59AM
Sep 30, 2021ThuWEEK THREE: Humanism, The Black Death, and Personal Piety during the Italian Renaissancedue by 05:59AM
Oct 01, 2021FriWEEK THREE: Video Lectures on Humanism, The Black Death, and Personal Piety during the Italian Renaissancedue by 05:59AM
Oct 08, 2021FriWEEK FOUR: (A) Creativity, Beauty, & Resiliency after the Black Death; (B) Exploring & Discussing Renaissance and Reformation "Case Studies" of The Plague.due by 05:59AM
Oct 11, 2021MonWEEK FOUR: Group Discussion/Open Forum #3 - Due Sunday Evening October 10th, 2021 due by 05:59AM
Oct 13, 2021WedWEEK FIVE - Tuesday October 12, 2021, 1 PM to 3 PM (MST): Religion & Medicine in the Non-Christian Context of Western Asia: Pre-Islamic & Islamic Iran (CONTENT from Mona Moayedi); General Discussion, Q-&-A with Instructors about Pandemics & Healingdue by 05:59AM
Oct 14, 2021ThuWEEK FIVE - Wednesday October 13, 2021, 8:30 AM to 10:30 AM (MST): Leprosy in Religious, Cultural, and Medical History. (CONTENT from Dr. Gieseker)due by 05:59AM
Oct 21, 2021ThuWEEK SIX: Assigning Points for Attendance & Participation in Zoom Meetings on Tues. 10/12 and Wed. 10/13due by 05:59AM
Oct 22, 2021FriWEEK SIX: Smallpox in Religious, Cultural, and Medical Historydue by 05:59AM
Oct 25, 2021MonWEEK SIX: Mid-Term Assignment----Final Paper Proposals Due this Weekend by Sunday Evening October 24th 2021 at 11:59 PM (MST)due by 05:59AM
Oct 29, 2021FriWEEK SEVEN: Tuberculosis in Religious, Cultural and Medical Historydue by 05:59AM
Nov 01, 2021MonWEEK SEVEN: Group Discussion/Open Forum #4 - Due Sunday Evening October 31st, 2021due by 05:59AM
Nov 06, 2021SatWEEK EIGHT: HIV-AIDS Global Epidemic in Contemporary Religious, Cultural and Medical Historydue by 05:59AM
Nov 08, 2021MonWEEK EIGHT: Group Discussion/Open Forum #5 - Due Sunday Evening November 7th, 2021due by 06:59AM
Nov 13, 2021SatWEEK NINE: Reflections on Epidemiology, Trauma, Healing, and the Future of Medicine During and Beyond the COVID-19 Pandemicdue by 06:59AM
Nov 16, 2021TueWEEK NINE: Group Discussion/Open Forum #6 - Due Monday Evening November 15th, 2021due by 06:59AM
Nov 23, 2021TueWEEK TEN: Submitting Final Reflection Papers or Final Research Papers and Details about Deadlinesdue by 06:59AM