Online Interdisciplinary Summer Course

Admitted Students

"Manhattanville Together…at a Distance: Coming together as a community in the age of COVID-19"

FREE online summer course for incoming students*!


To register, contact Admissions Counselor Jennifer Kleinkopf at (Course number IDS 1100).

2 credits (awarded if student enrolls full time at Manhattanville for fall 2020).

* must have submitted enrollment deposit to register.

Course Description:
COVID-19 has defined the last months of our lives on every level. We want to make sense of it, and we want to do it with you. As a small liberal arts college, Manhattanville is uniquely positioned to break down this complex situation. In this summer mini-course, we will come together as educators, scholars, and learners to see how our ideas and experiences intersect to build knowledge and community even when we aren’t physically together, marking the beginning of your college career in a special way during this unique moment in time.

This four-week course consists of an introduction, four learning modules, and closing remarks by Manhattanville President Michael Geisler, PhD, all prerecorded. Each online module will be followed by a live weekly small group discussion in which you get to know your peers and professors and break down the issues presented that week.

Student Learning Objectives for course: All assessed through class discussions and final artifact assignment.

  • Students will draw connections among the ways different liberal arts disciplines approach complex problems.
  • Students will evaluate information presented in the media for accuracy and point of view.
  • Students will demonstrate knowledge of the Blackboard learning management system.
  • Students will create artifacts by which they express their learning in the course, their awareness of Manhattanville’s mission to “educate students to be ethical and socially-responsible leaders in a global community,” and their personal experience of COVID-19.

Course Outline: Pre-recorded Modules

Introduction: A Game of Inches: What Sport Reveals about the Age of COVID- 19

Amy Bass (Sport Studies), PhD, will discuss how sport has served as a gateway for understanding the impact of COVID-19 on broader society, from the influence of the NBA’s postponement announcement on America’s understanding of the virus to the contagion chaos caused by a soccer match in Italy to the unprecedented move by Tokyo 2020 to delay the Olympic Games.

  • Week One: Humanity and natural disasters: How do we find meaning?
    • How can we make sense of the suffering, death, and devastation caused by pandemics and other natural disasters? In this module, you will learn how scholars of Literature, Music, Culture, and Art approach this question from a humanistic perspective, investigating how we question, process, understand, and remember both difficult and joyful experiences through art in all of its forms, as well as other areas of culture.
  • Week Two: How COVID-19 brings out the best and worst in reporting: intersecting social media with science.
    • The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted an undeniable aspect of our lives: the ways social media can both inform and misinform on facts. During the crisis, social media has allowed us to stay connected and up to date on important information, while also encouraging divisions and circulating harmful falsehoods. During this week's module, you will see how different disciplines, including Communications and Media, Biology, Nursing, Academic Writing and Composition, and Math intersect when dealing with (mis)information. The week will also help you separate fact from fiction and learn how to correct science denial.
  • Week Three: COVID-19 in action: Pandemics, the environment, and inequality.
    • While some have described the virus as a “great equalizer,” its origin and impact has revealed that some of us are more vulnerable to its effects than others. This week, you will join experts and educators in global environmental issues, culture, politics, history, and the economy to learn about the intersecting roles of the environment, wealth and poverty, market forces and governments in this crisis.
  • Week Four: Life Unscripted: Coping and Caring for Ourselves and Our Community during COVID-19.
    • Isolation and uncertainty present challenges to our mental and emotional health. In this module, scholars in Communication and Media, Education, Nursing, and Psychology will offer you coping strategies and explain how empathy and creativity can help you adjust to our rapidly changing world. Additionally, professors of Biology, Communication and Media, and Design Thinking will discuss compassion in action —coping with the crisis by making change in our community.

Closing Remarks: A conversation with President Michael Geisler: Moving forward as a Valiant.

FAQ: This course is designed for students admitted to Manhattanville College’s Class of 2024. It features Manhattanville College faculty in the Schools of Arts and Science, Education, and Nursing and Health Sciences. This class brings together nearly all academic disciplines, from the arts, to writing, math and science, nursing, education, psychology, international studies, sport studies, literature, communications and business.

Class will begin during the week of July 6 and will run for four weeks. We will be using Manhattanville’s course management system, Blackboard, for this course. All materials for the class will be posted there, and that is where assignments will be submitted. Each week of the four-week term, students will engage with the prerecorded lessons and other materials posted on Blackboard and meet in a small group with a professor via videoconference for a discussion.

Aside from watching the learning modules and attending weekly discussions, you will have a brief weekly assignment, culminating in a final project of your choice. One of our goals is to encourage you to make sense of the time you have already put in living through this experience, so in a sense you have already completed most of the work!

We know that the transition from high school to college can be daunting, now more than ever. In this class, you will meet some of your future classmates and professors and talk about student life and learning at Manhattanville College. We will plan a face-to-face meeting as soon as we are all together on campus!

Also, this is a credit earning course: if you complete the course successfully and begin your fulltime college career at Manhattanville in the fall, you will receive 2 liberal arts credits toward graduation. Students in the class will also contribute to a virtual COVID-19 archive as part of the Manhattanville College Library’s Special Collections, creating a lasting legacy for the present and future Valiant community!

Students will need access to the internet in order to engage with the posted materials and stream the discussion groups. A device with a camera is ideal and will help us get to know each other. All other materials for the course will be provided to you online free of charge.

Nothing! Enrolling in the class is free. When you finish, the credits you’ve earned are free!

We’ve all seen a lot of our plans change in the last few months. If you begin the class and are unable to finish it, it will not appear on your transcript at Manhattanville and there is no financial penalty.

Amy Bass, PhD, is Professor of Sport Studies, where her interests focus on sport, culture, and politics. She received a PhD with distinction in history from Stony Brook University. The author of the award-winning book One Goal: A Coach, A Team, and the Game that Brought a Divided Town Together, Bass also edits her own series, "Sporting," for Temple University Press. In mainstream media, she has written for Slate, The Undefeated, and Salon, and is a frequent contributor for CNN, both in print and in studio, and worked across eight Olympic Games for NBC Sports, winning an Emmy Award for Live Event Turnaround at the London Olympic Games.

Lisa Rafanelli, PhD, JD, is Professor of Italian Renaissance art history who has degrees in Law from Columbia University and in Art History from NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts. She is currently working on her second monograph, Michelangelo’s Vatican Pietà and its Afterlives (anticipated 2021).

Steffi Shook, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Communication and Media with expertise in video game studies, film studies, social media, and marginalized media production. She has published works on gender and sexuality, racism in cinema, and first-person avatars.

Anna Yeung-Cheung, PhD, is Professor of Biology. She teaches a variety of subjects, from Principles of Biology to Infectious Disease to Microbiology. She is also an activist and the founder of “New Yorker supporting Hong Kong” (NY4HK) and a formal non- government organization “Hong Kong Democracy Council” (HKDC) in Washington, DC, and dedicated to preserving Hong Kong’s basic freedoms, the rule of law, and autonomy. She has been a frequent national media voice on topics related to the Coronaviruses pandemic in recent months, and also assisted in donating Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to hospitals in New York and New Jersey.

Patricia Stout-Traina MS, RN, CNS, Associate Dean of Clinical Education in the School of Nursing and Health Sciences, has been a nursing professional for close to 30 years. As a clinical holistic nurse specialist, Stout-Traina has worked in women and child health, hospice, home care, and nursing education. Treating everyone as equals and encouraging healing in a holistic manner is her primary goal.

Political scientist Nayma Qayum, PhD, is Associate Professor in AMENA (African, Middle Eastern, and North African) studies and also teaches for the International Studies Program. Her research interests include informal institutions, gender and development, poverty, and migration, with regional expertise in South Asia. She is a frequent contributor to the Washington Post.

Associate Professor Elizabeth Cherry, PhD, is an environmental sociologist researching and teaching about issues related to animals, food, and the environment. Her second book, For the Birds: Protecting Wildlife through the Naturalist Gaze, came out in 2019, and she is currently working on several projects about veganism.

Gregory Swedberg, PhD, is Professor of Latin American history and Director for the Center of Global and International Studies. He received his PhD from Rutgers University in 2007. A Fulbright Hays recipient, his research interests include the effects industrialization and the Mexican Revolution had on gender and labor relations in Veracruz, Mexico.

Katherine Cunningham, PhD, completed her doctorate degree at Teacher’s College, Columbia University, where she focused on literacy curriculum and instruction. She strives to make children’s literature and students’ stories the heart of literacy learning. Her most recent book, Start with Joy: Designing Literacy Learning for Student Happiness focuses on how students can learn tools to live a happy life.

Jorie Kontos, PsyD, is Director of Operations at Manhattanville’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences. She recently completed her PsyD in grief counseling.

Alison Carson, PhD, a cultural psychologist, is Associate Provost for Academic Innovation and Design Thinking. She received her PhD from Boston College in 2000, focusing her dissertation work on rural and urban communities in the Philippines. Professor Carson directs the new Center for Design Thinking at Manhattanville.

Additional Participants:

Megan Cifarelli, PhD
Nada Halloway, PhD
Christopher Pappas, PhD
Mel Comberiati, PhD
Binita Mehta, PhD
Lauren Ziarko, MA, MLIS
Paul Ellis, PhD
Carleigh Brower, MFA
Kyoko Mona, PhD
Nancy Todd, PhD
John Shekitka, PhD
Joni Siani, MEd
Justin Capalbo, MFA
Jeff Rosedale, MA, MSLS
Arianna Martignetti