ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – This time last year, no one had even heard of the coronavirus but now it’s part of our daily vocabulary. Now, the University of New Mexico is using the worldwide pandemic as a teaching opportunity in a brand new course.

The course, Geography 499, Environmental Security: the COVID-19 Pandemic, will take a deep dive into the impacts of the coronavirus around the world and examine how different countries have responded, and discuss the role politics have played through it all.

“Looking at other countries is informative for understanding the impacts of political motivation in terms of the pandemic,” says Chris Duvall, Chair of the Department Geography and Environmental Studies at UNM.

Duvall says the 8-week online course starts on Monday and in that time students will learn how human-environment interactions can lead to a pandemic. “But then also the social responses and social investments that do or don’t have impacts on actual activities after the fact,” Duvall says.

Duvall says students will also look at how the United States spent decades planning a pandemic response. “Part of what we’re going to do in this class is read those documents and make an assessment of did we do what we thought we should do and if we did that’s great and if we didn’t why not,” Duvall says.

Duvall hopes the course will give students perspective that could one day come in handy. “Hopefully I’ll lead students to be able to make some recommendations, what should we do next time because there will be a next time,” Duvall says. Duvall says about 30 students have signed up for the course; The cap is 50.

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