Epidemic Emergences

Fall 2021: Monday 3pm-6pm

Durham Hall, Room 135

What do previous human experiences with epidemics reveal about this moment in US history?


What systemic injustices have been revealed by the pandemic and how can they be addressed?


How have different communities crafted cultural responses to this current pandemic and how can those healing practices and values be supported?


How can care networks be built to anticipate and respond to health challenges in the future?


How can the US emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic as a culture that is healthier and more just?

This course will interrogate the histories of epidemics and the stories that help us heal. Emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic creates the potential for new reckonings and understandings of how health is supported or imperiled in human communities. Drawing from literature, disability studies, the health humanities, critical race theory, gender and sexuality studies and bioethics, students will think about the many communities impacted (in deeply disparate ways) by contagious diseases to ask how and whether we can promote health justice. What does justice look like during and after a pandemic? Focusing on various cultural responses to epidemic diseases in the past and the present, this lab will encourage students to research possibilities in order to imagine and build better and more just futures.


  • Collaborators TBA

Impact Outcomes

Students in the Epidemic Emergences Lab leveraged a myriad of academic fields as they analyzed cultural responses to past epidemics and the COVID-19 pandemic. Lab students focused on different intersections of COVID-19 and a field of research, which included health humanities, the environment, critical race theory, sexuality, and mental health. Later in the semester, the entire Lab team arranged a promotional campaign on the Humanities Lab Instagram and held an outdoor event in which they presented a collection of innovative and actualized interventions to the public.

View their outcomes HERE.

Epidemics in the News

At the Humanities Lab, we strive to ensure our Labs are relevant and current. Here are some recent articles about epidemics in today’s news!

Why the Virus Is a Civil Rights Issue: ‘The Pain Will Not Be Shared Equally’
Lessons In Handling Health Crises The U.S. Can Learn From AIDS Epidemic

Enrollment Information

Fall 2021: Tuesday and Thursday, 3pm-4:15pm and *Thursday 1:30pm-2:45pm

H.B. Farmer Education Building, Room 338, Session C

Humanities Lab School of Sustainability
HUL 494 and 598 SOS 498 and 594
School for the Future of Innovation in Society Innovation and Venture Development
FIS 494 IVD 494 and 598
Human and Social Dimensions of Science and Technology
HSD 598

*Lab time is for students to work on activities and assignments, especially skill-building and collaborative Lab projects. Contact faculty about required Lab times.

Instructional Team

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Faculty: Cora Fox

Department of English
Health Humanities and Cultural Studies
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Faculty: Jenny Brian

Barrett Honors College
Bioethics + Race and Gender Politics

Instructional Team

Seize the Moment

This Lab is presented through Seize the Moment, an initiative of Leonardo, the Humanities Lab, and the Global Futures Laboratory at Arizona State University. In an alarming syndemic of intersecting crises—the coronavirus pandemic, racial injustice and accompanying civil unrest, and cascading environmental hazards—Seize the Moment addresses the grand challenges of the day through transdisciplinary arts, science, technological, and humanities collaborations in research, pedagogy, and public engagement. To learn more, visit our website at http://bit.ly/SeizetheMomentASU.

simple text logos for Leonardo, the Humanities Lab and the Global Futures Laboratory at Arizona State University