Manhattanville College Launches First COVID-19 Course This Summer

Press Release

Manhattanville College Launches First COVID-19 Course This Summer

Students and faculty will look at what we have learned from the pandemic and how it will shape the future

July 2, 2020 • cara.cea

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Manhattanville College is offering one of the first college courses on COVID-19 in the nation for its incoming first-year students. The two-credit course is free of charge and brings together faculty from across campus to explore the pandemic and its effect on our lives through the lens of sports, arts, science and other fields and how the continued fallout may alter our communities well into the future. Classes begin in July.

“As a small liberal arts college, Manhattanville is uniquely positioned to break down this complex situation,” said Manhattanville President Michael Geisler, Ph.D., who will address students at the end of the course. “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 our students’ college career in a special way during this unique moment in time.’’

The course is called, "Manhattanville Together…at a Distance: Coming together as a community in the age of COVID-19." The purpose of the COVID-19 course is to offer incoming students ways to make sense of the pandemic and to connect with their peers about the uncertainties they are facing, uniting them at a difficult time. The course will also help acclimate incoming students to the college and the available instructional technologies and resources.

"The faculty who created this course came together to talk about how disorienting and scary this time must be for graduating high school seniors and we wanted to really actively reach out and show them what it means to be part of an engaged, compassionate, and curious campus community,” said Visual Studies and Art History Professor Megan Cifarelli, Ph.D. “In decades of teaching, I've never experienced anything like this."

Straying from the typical lecture style class, this course will be conducted in a conversational style with experts together on screen virtually. Podcast-style conversations will help students understand the ways that different fields look at evidence, and the different kinds of conclusions that can be drawn, while live discussion sessions with various faculty will allow students to ask questions in real time and connect with one another

“I am thrilled to be offering the keynote and offer a perspective from sport studies and all of the fields that it pulls from -- history, sociology, politics, the sciences, media, and so much more,” said Amy Bass, professor of Sport Studies. “It was the NBA that really woke America up as to what living in a pandemic could mean and I think using the lens of sports to unpack some of the cultural, scientific, and political aspects of COVID-19 is a provocative and engaging way for students to launch their college careers at Manhattanville.” Bass has been widely quoted in national media, including a recent Associated Press article about the return of sports, and is a regular contributor to CNN. Bass helped produce coverage for eight Olympic Games for NBC Sports, winning an Emmy Award for Live Event Turnaround at the London Olympic Games.

“This course takes a look backwards to provide context and build meaningful connections across centuries,” said Lisa Rafanelli, Ph.D., professor of Visual Studies and Art History. “Artistic expression is such a key element of how we process our lived experiences, and COVID-19 is no different. It is through art in all its forms--music, art, theater, photography, literature, dance--that we memorialize our shared experience to create our mark through time, encompassing expressions of joy and sorrow, hope and fear, triumph and tragedy.”

“The academic component I was privileged to work on with my colleagues focused on the many COVID-19 memes that can be found all over social media, dissecting these artifacts through all of the different lens that we each have to create new and important perspectives,” said Christopher Pappas, Ph.D. professor of Biology.

The course was created and will be taught by Manhattanville College faculty in the schools of arts and science, education, and nursing and health sciences and brings together in conversation nearly all academic disciplines: the arts, writing, math and science, nursing, education, psychology, international studies, sport studies, literature, communications and business.


“This course is truly innovative,” said Cifarelli. “We've looked at the few other undergraduate COVID courses out there, and ours is entirely unique and very rich.”

Classes will begin during the week of July 6 and will run for four weeks. Two credits will be awarded if the student enrolls full time at Manhattanville for fall 2020.

To learn more about the course, the faculty leading it, and registration visit

About Manhattanville College

Manhattanville College is a small, private liberal arts institution dedicated to academic excellence, purposeful education, and social justice. Located 30 miles from New York City on a 100-acre suburban campus in the heart of bustling Westchester County, Manhattanville enables easy access to robust entertainment offerings, educational resources, and business opportunities for its primarily residential and diverse student body. The College serves approximately 1,550 undergraduate students and 1,000 graduate students from more than 44 countries and 33 states. Founded in 1841, the College offers more than 75 undergraduate and graduate areas of study in the arts and sciences, education, business, and creative writing, as well as continuing and executive education programs. Graduate students can choose from over 70 graduate and certificate programs. Extracurricular offerings include more than 45 clubs and 20 NCAA Division III teams. To learn more, visit

Cara Cea,, 914-323-1278 or 914-906-9680

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