Real World Lessons: Coronavirus Discussions in Our Classrooms

As the COVID-19 virus has spread around the world, NYU SPS faculty members have incorporated discussions that focus on the crisis into their classroom teaching. Some areas are more deeply affected than others, however we expect an expansion of these dialogues as more and more sectors are impacted. We will be updating this site as additional examples are submitted. Please submit new content to Alka Gupta for posting.

Corona Virus

Division of Applied Undergraduate Studies (DAUS)

With the advent of COVID-19, debates rage as to the effectiveness of the US domestic and global response versus that of China. After students indicated interest in her Spring 2020 International Relations class on the impact of COVID-19 on the global order, Lisa M. Samuel, academic director and clinical assistant professor in the NYU SPS Division of Applied Undergraduate Studies (DAUS), created a Summer Special Topics course, “US Hegemony, China, and COVID-19.” The course explored the post-WWII rise of America as a global leader and China’s “quiet” rise to rival the US. Some observers note that the pandemic and the resulting global recession marks a geopolitical reordering that could leave China as the victor. But, the course asked, is this really so? Is COVID-19 reshaping the global order? Undergraduate students from the US, China, Dubai, Ghana, Hong Kong, Israel, and South Korea, engaged in vigorous debates on this complex and multifaceted state of affairs. 

John Clif Hubby, a clinical associate professor in the Division of Applied Undergraduate Studies, is offering a course in Fall 2020 chronicling the Black Plague of the fourteenth century while drawing parallels to today’s COVID-19 pandemic.

This past summer, students did research papers and PowerPoint presentations on COVID-19 and its impact for their final project in the “Critical Thinking” course taught by Nira Kaplan, an adjunct professor in the Division of Applied Undergraduate Studies. Topics included medical solutions, health policy, socioeconomic impact and global political impact. The aim of this project was to ensure that students learned how to research, analyze evidence, and argue effectively about a current topic.

In his two spring classes, “Business Organization and Management” and “Organizational Behavior,” John Burnett, an adjunct instructor in the Division of Applied Undergraduate Studies, had students work in team projects in which an essential element was identifying risks and mitigating factors of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students analyzed ways to keep operations going and manage stakeholders’ expectations while prioritizing the safety of staff and customers.

In her class on “Project Management and Technology Innovation,” Amarpreet Nanda, an adjunct instructor in the Division of Applied Undergraduate Studies, discussed how agile companies were in response to COVID-19, including their ability to change supply chains and launch and adapt new products. As the pandemic was unfolding, students incorporated case studies and discussions around companies such as Uber, Zoom, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon.

In his fall social media and analytics class, Jon Chang, an adjunct instructor in the Division of Applied Undergraduate Studies, discussed social media’s ability, opportunity, and consequence to disseminate information globally about coronavirus.

Division of Programs in Business

Analysis of the lessons of past pandemics are a standing feature in the International Human Resource Management class taught by Anna Tavis, clinical associate professor and academic director of the Human Capital Management Department within the Division of Programs in Business at the NYU School of Professional Studies. In this course, students learn to identify the implications of linking the global marketplace with human capital strategies while searching for world-class solutions. For example, students conducted a case study on the impact of the SARS pandemic on the workplace, specifically how Singapore Airlines managed its workforce policies at a time when about 50% of its business was decimated by the reduction in flights and travel. Students reviewed the company’s commitment to its workforce and the policies it adopted to retain valuable staff members and to preserve the culture and loyalty of its employees.

Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality

Lynn Minnaert, academic director and clinical associate professor at the Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality, has discussed the coronavirus as a factor in the external environment affecting tourism destinations in her Tourism Planning and Policy class. The class focuses on a comprehensive review of the tourism planning process used to develop or modify a travel destination area. The coronavirus epidemic has led to discussions about emergency planning and responding to crisis at the local, regional, and national levels.

In her Hospitality & Tourism Sales & Marketing class, Vanja Bogecevic, a clinical assistant professor at the Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality, has focused on the impact of the coronavirus on the global and US economy in the context of the marketing macroenvironment and PESTLE analysis. Specifically, her students discussed the plummeting stock market and low interest rates as a consequence of the coronavirus, and reflected on the decrease in tourist/guest arrivals and event cancellations.

Max Starkov, an adjunct instructor at the Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality, asked students in his Emerging Issues in Hospitality & Tourism class an open-ended question about how hotels in New York City should respond to decreased demand and cancellations during the coronavirus epidemic. The students came up with several responses including no-fee cancellations, communicating sanitation efforts via social media, bundling rooms and amenities and targeting those packages at guests in nearby states, and staying away from rates discounting.

In his classes at the Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality, Recep “Richie” Karaburun, a clinical assistant professor of hospitality and tourism, covers the importance of having a “Contingency Plan” for both companies and destinations to deal with unexpected incidents such as coronavirus; a “Crisis Management” plan that includes all stakeholders; and an organized “Communication” plan with one official spokesperson. His students discussed how different countries - from China to Japan and Italy to the US, have handled coronavirus communication and preparation. 
Jing Yang, a clinical assistant professor in the Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality, teaches the Lodging Industry Structures & Strategies course, in which students collaborate in a group project on company research. With the pandemic underway, she asked her students to start with environment scanning and to explore the disruption and impact of the virus on the supply and demand of the specific sector the selected company is in. 

In the Applied Research Methods course that he teaches, Christopher Gaffney, a clinical associate professor in the Jonathan M. Tisch Center for Hospitality, assigned students to read The Ghost Map, which deals with the outbreak of cholera in London 1854. Every week, classroom discussions have traced the similarities and differences between that outbreak and coronavirus: the fear that ripples through urban centers and how to counter that with a fact-based worldview, the importance of data collection and visualization, the need for solid epidemiological methodologies, quack cures being propagated in the press, the march of the virus across the globe as it approached NYC, and globalization and connectivity. The professor and his students have found it very instructive to measure what has and has not changed in 170 years relative to global pandemics and urban centers.

Preston Robert Tisch Institute for Global Sport

In response to the restrictions imposed on sports and its celebrity athletes by the COVID-19 pandemic, David Hollander, clinical associate professor at the Preston Robert Tisch Institute for Global Sport, and assistant dean of the NYU Real World program, recently completed teaching a special class “Sports Business Solutions in a COVID-19 World,” which was open to undergraduate and graduate students. In this course, which focused on NBA All-Star Devin Booker as a sports property, students were charged with creating branding and marketing strategies and tactics that would help Booker pivot his brand and business, while continuing to engage fans during these difficult times. Students pitched their ideas directly to Booker and his agency CAA virtually during the course.