Course description

Outbreaks of epidemic disease have played a role in shaping human societies from the beginning of recorded history transforming demographic patterns social practices and cultural expectations. Although they take fewer lives than the diseases we encounter every day epidemics possess an extraordinary hold over our collective imagination; this course seeks to understand why. Through an analysis of the Black Death to COVID-19 we explore the place of epidemic disease in human history taking into account how those living in different times and places have responded when epidemics have appeared.


  • Associate Director of Academic Ventures and Engagement, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

Associated Schools

  • Harvard Division of Continuing Education

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