We have successfully completed 2 weeks of the Fall 2020 semester, with most classes at the University of Maryland being held virtually. My course, Sociological Social Psychology, is being held online with approximately 130 students. Students are facing a variety of circumstances that make it challenging to juggle virtual learning, but we are collaboratively facing the task head-on.
This semester offers several opportunities to connect course material to our current historical context. The national reckoning with racial injustice will provide valuable material for discussing inequality, as well as attitudes and social movements. My students are seeing firsthand a social movement changing society and responding to structural inequalities. Social psychology also provides tools for understanding attitudes around race as well as the causes and maintenance of racial systems.
Similarly, I plan to use the pandemic to facilitate discussions around social norms, emotions, and environmental issues. Society’s organization around the natural environment is related to both the beginnings and spread of COVID-19. Social norms have been negotiated, contested, and altered as a result of the disease.
I’m also excited to connect with my class around the relevance of local governance and community engagement, encouraging them to get involved in their own communities.
I’m hoping for a successful, if strange, semester.