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UArizona professor moves psych course online, focuses on COVID-19

Posted at 6:49 AM, Apr 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-06 09:49:25-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact so many aspects of people's lives, University of Arizona faculty are finding new ways to use this global health crisis as a teachable moment in their courses. And that includes psychology professor, David Sbarra.

"It felt like we were ignoring a giant elephant in the room," says Sbarra. "So what I essentially did was switch the entire focus of my class to make everything in part one of the course, the backdrop for now. The new course is related to the coronavirus and COVID-19, so we're studying this, and all kinds of different ways relevant to health psychology.

Professor Sbarra has nearly 300 undergraduate students who will now spend the rest of the semester focusing on topics related to the pandemic.

"Disease progression and reviewing some of the infectious disease models about the epidemiological spread of the virus, and what is the latest thinking about whether these social distancing measures are working," says Sbarra.

Another main focus will be on human behaviors during a pandemic that’s affecting the entire world. And professor Sbarra says, the class is seeing evidence of the curve being flattened when people think about their community instead of just themselves.

"You're doing your part for front-line medical providers so they can do their part, April is going to be a grim month for all of us," says Sbarra. "It's going to be hard to get through this. And the idea is that we're going to bond together around the fact that we are staying home and doing that is for other people and for their health. So it is a communal act to isolate ourselves at this point."