A couple hold the hands of their young child as the three, all masked, walk through an outdoor shopping center.

Covid in Context: 5 new MITx courses offer tools for understanding the pandemic

Throughout every corner of MIT, faculty, researchers, and staff are working on research and projects to help solve the many challenges brought on by the Covid-19 crisis. From medical research to manufacturing, online learning to socioeconomic disparities, the MIT community has amassed a vast wealth of knowledge about the pandemic.

During the summer, MITx put out a call for proposals to rapidly develop short online courses based on some of these pandemic-related projects happening at MIT, in an effort to provide open, worldwide access to learning that can help us understand and address this extraordinary moment. Now, we are excited to launch five new courses that cover everything from the history of disease to mindset development to mathematical assessment of Covid-19 spread.


Covid-19 in Slums and Informal Settlements: Guidelines & Responses

Led by Ceasar MacDowell, Professor of the Practice of Civic Design in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, and a team of graduate and undergraduate students, this course focuses on how Covid-19 has impacted the world’s most vulnerable populations across the Global South. The course explores what is happening on the ground in communities that lack adequate resources to manage the pandemic response, and discusses what may work and what doesn’t.


Disease, Climate Shocks, and Wellbeing: a Long History of Social Response to Crisis

Societies have battled pandemics and other natural disasters for all of human history. Led by Anne McCants, Professor of History, this course explores the issues of disease and resource constraints through a number of historical cases, to understand their impact on social organization and the standard of living. Through context, learners can put Covid-19 into historical perspective.


Cultivating Entrepreneurship & Antifragility to Thrive in a Fast-Paced World

Covid-19 has ushered in a myriad of healthcare, humanitarian, economic, and societal crises that require new and creative ways of thinking. Hosted by MIT’s Martin Trust Center for Entrepreneurship, this course is an integrated, eight-module “How To” speaker series. In each module, world-renowned experts equip learners with practical frameworks, processes, and lessons with the mindset, skills, and ways of operating to cultivate antifragility among individuals, teams, organizations, and society.


Physics of COVID-19 Transmission

This course shares and explains important new research on Covid-19 transmission from Chemical Engineering Professor Martin Bazant. He outlines what has recently been learned about aerosol transmission and the underlying scientific principles that can be used to assess risk levels in various environments. While some of the calculations offered are advanced, interviews and videos discuss these findings in a way that all learners can understand.


Manufacturing Agility for Crisis Response (coming soon — launch date TBD)

When the Covid-19 pandemic first started, the global manufacturing industry was called to immediate action to rapidly increase the supply of personal protective equipment. In this new course, John Hart, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Mitsui Career Development Professor of Contemporary Technology, and his team will tell the story of the manufacturing response during Covid-19, and provide lessons and actionable next steps for firms seeking to pivot to produce medical devices or other products necessary for crisis response.


These, and dozens of other online courses, are open for enrollment on www.edX.org. All MITx courses on edX are open for free learning via the audit track, or learners can choose to earn a certificate of completion for a small fee.

Photo by Macau Photo Agency on Unsplash


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