Online course – At War with the Virus: Coping with COVID-19

Central Michigan University and Indiana University partnered with Swedish Healthcare Academy to design a new interdisciplinary course titled “At War with the Virus: Coping

Breaking through university walls, program- and disciplinary boundaries required new technologies, funding models, and globe-wide outreach. Our 70 students (MDs, DHA, Master’s and undergraduate) interacted with 20 speakers from 5 continents to learn about the pandemic from the perspective of epidemiology, international health system design, political science, health communication, journalism, economics, and other social sciences. Students reflected that a course like this would never be possible in a traditional classroom. It is an example of value-added online education, according to our learners. The students enjoyed group learning, moderated discussions, panels, and roundtables.

The unfolding global Covid-19 crisis presents a unique and important opportunity to learn about national health systems – their strengths, weaknesses, and resilience – by comparing their responses to the pandemic and lessons learned. At the outset of this course, diverse groups of undergraduate and graduate students are introduced to key concepts in epidemiology, emergency response, communication, and health system design.

Learning Objectives

  1. Explain how the current pandemic emerged and evolved from its outset in Wuhan, China to its spread throughout the world.
  2. Describe and discuss health systems’ responses, including those related to containment and mitigation. Analyze geographical, cultural, or political commonalities and differences in health systems’ responses, in light of cultural values, common attitudes, biases and stereotypes.
  3. Compare and contrast U.S. and European responses during this crisis, taking into consideration the variations in social, economic, political, and organizational conditions that comprised the backdrop for the pandemic.
  4. Analyze how health system differences between the U.S. and European countries influenced responses and outcomes. Illustrate differences in light of deeply held cultural values and attitudes related to health and health systems.
  5. Assess the influence of the media and effectiveness of communication strategies applied in Europe, the U.S. and in other countries that were strongly affected by the pandemic. Illustrate regional communication differences in light of country-specific politics and cultural traditions.
  6. Work in teams to examine how countries protect vulnerable populations from Covid-19. Identify a country that was successful at “flattening the epidemiological curve.” Explain how and why such achievements became possible.
  7. Summarize lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic, recognizing the contributions of different countries. Summarize how the past health system performance relates to health system performance during Covid-19.


We explore such questions as:

  • What is a pandemic? How did COVID-19 unfold and where are we today? Why?
  • How does the environmental context – the social, economic, political, and organizational conditions – relate to countries’ responses during this crisis?
  • How are health systems organized to respond to crises? What factors contribute to better or worse outcomes for those affected in this case?
  • How does communication influence the response? What is the role of the media?
  • Which populations are most vulnerable? How did countries protect or fail to protect their most vulnerable people? Why?
  • Which countries were best at flattening the curve? How do they do it? Which strategies have succeeded and failed? Why?
  • Which countries showed the strongest and weakest response to the pandemic? Which are ahead and behind in vaccinations? Why?
  • What have we learned through this experience? How can global leaders apply these lessons to prevent and respond to future pandemics?
  • Must there be a “war” against coronavirus or, more generally, pandemics?

The speakers give an insight into regional differences in pandemic responses will be examined across multiple continents and countries. Our special focus will be on the characteristics of national health systems with the most effective responses.

Would you like to learn more about this study program? Please send an inquiry via email at

Topic: An online multidisciplinary global health course with experts from 5 continents
Visiting from: USA
Participants: 23
When: May 22- July 24
Duration: 9 weeks


"The interactions and networking with fellow students has been awesome."
"I gained access to new ideas and perspectives I have really enjoyed learning form experts around the world, on their perspectives regarding COVID19. "
"I miss the travel but what an excellent way to bring so many perspectives together in one format."
"This has been an incredible experience so far. Love hearing from so many different people around the globe about their countries and areas of expertise. Really broadening my horizons on the virus but also the state of the world."