After the world has spent nearly a year living in an active pandemic, biology professor Jill Manske has a lot to say about how COVID-19 has exposed the continued disproportionate impact health care disparities have on Black, Indigenous and people of color due to systemic racism in our society.  

Manske will kick off the spring 2021 College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) Teach-in Tuesdays series at noon on Tuesday, Feb. 23, with “Disrupting Pandemics: Infectious Disease, Inequity and Social Justice.” 

Though the vaccines being administered nationwide may offer some relief from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s not that simple. Manske said curing infectious disease is not enough.  

Hospital and death records show that Black people, Latinos and Native Americans are disproportionately suffering and dying from severe disease. In fact, Black people are dying at 2.5 times the rate of whites, according to a Science magazine article that Manske recommends in her reading list for this talk.  

Manske added that health disparities extend to arguably more insidious pandemics like racism, and her talk will explore the interplay between systemic racism, marginalization and global health. 

The format of Teach-in Tuesdaysis meant to engage participants. The Feb. 23 presentation will be followed by interdisciplinary conversationKim Vrudny and Fuad Naeem from the Theology Department, as well as Amy Finnegan from the Justice and Society Studies Department, all will share perspective. The panel will also take questions from participants.  

While the theme of this semester’s Teach-in Tuesdays is “Disrupting Pandemics,” the outbreaks CAS experts will discuss throughout the series extend beyond conventional diseases like COVID-19.  Disrupting the biological, societal and structural pandemics like racism and violence against women are also planned topics for the series.  

Teach-in Tuesdays debuted in the 2018-19 academic year and aims to provide a space for meaningful learning and discussion around issues that impact our community. The series leverages the expertise of CAS faculty to present on and invite discussion of important and urgent themes of the day. 

The next event in this series is COVID-19: A Confluence of Epidemic” at noon on March 16 with presenter, associate professor of theology Amy Levad. Interdisciplinary conversation panelists are being identified.  

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