The Project Pericles award will allow Dr. van de Ruit to adapt the Health and Exercise Physiology community health class (HEP-447) to a focus on service learning in the context of COVID 19. Much like South Africa during the time of AIDS denialism, the United States under the Trump administration has rejected science-driven public health preventative strategies such as mandatory mask use and social distancing guidelines. As a consequence, the toll on the population is devastating. This class will enable students to gain first-hand insight into how social injustice and racial discrimination exacerbates COVID 19 transmission, morbidity, and mortality.
By performing service for community organizations students will observe practical ways in which various groups are working to redress and contest structural barriers for the marginalized communities they serve. Through collective and individual reflection, this service learning experience will engage students to see themselves as active agents in challenging health injustice and systemic discrimination.