Inaugural Justice and Pandemics Preparedness Academy Cohort Celebrates Completion of the Program

The fall 2020 cohort of the Justice and Pandemics Preparedness Academy gathered virtually on Friday, December 11 to discuss the Academy's first semester. 

December 15, 2020

In July of 2020, President Bollinger announced the Justice and Pandemics Preparedness Academy (“Academy”) to allow students the opportunity to learn more about the inequities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and how to address them. The Academy is a partnership among the Columbia School of General Studies, the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, the Columbia School of Social Work, and faculty in the Arts & Sciences that is open to students from all four undergraduate schools and provides students with the opportunity to learn, first-hand, about the intersection of pandemic preparedness and systemic racism. This fall, it welcomed 24 students into its first cohort.

On Friday, Lisa Rosen-Metsch, Dean of Columbia GS, Marlyn Delva, GS Dean of Students, and James Colgrove, Dean of the Columbia Postbac Premed Program, joined the student cohort to discuss their experiences with the Academy's first semester. 

Dean Rosen-Metsch discussed the importance of bringing together students from all four undergraduate schools “around two issues that are right at the forefront of society,” telling the class, “Each one of you brought your life experiences, your majors, and your disciplines to this process” to create a rich, compelling conversation.

As a part of the Academy, the first cohort of students took part in an exciting series of virtual lectures featuring Columbia faculty members engaged in cutting-edge scholarship and activism on these issues, including Courtney Cogburn of the School of Social Work, Wafaa El-Sadr of ICAP and the Mailman School of Public Health, and Robert Fullilove of the Mailman School of Public Health.

A weekly journal club engaged students in critical discussion of writings, videos, and social media accounts focused on pandemics from the lens of public health, social work, the humanities, and the social sciences.

One student said, “We’ve had such open, honest, and respectful conversations. We all come together not just to talk about the theory and statistics of public health, but how we can apply these in our daily lives.”

Students who participated in the Academy also completed individual (or collaborative) writing/social media/video projects in their areas of interest. All students were assigned a faculty mentor based on shared interests between the student and faculty mentor.

“You have built a community, but have also built a repertoire of knowledge and tools that you will take into your future aspirations," Dean Delva said.

The application for the spring 2021 cohort will open on Monday, January 11, 2021.  Please continue to monitor the GS website for updates.