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Photo: Calvin University
Photo by Calvin University

During this time of isolation because of the virus pandemic, Calvin University is offering a range of online courses that focus on various ways in which Christians can think about and respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

Including an array of free resources and webinars for people interested in a particular topic, the program also provides academic course credit for learners anywhere in the world.

“A lot of people have been despairing and have been in a paralyzed mode, asking what to do in the middle of this crisis,” said Kevin den Dulk, associate provost of Calvin University and coordinator of the program.

“We talked this over and wondered what we could offer as guides at a time like this . . . so that we can live with a hopeful vision,” he added.

“We realized we have several robust programs here at Calvin — programs in public health, mental health, creation care. We realized there were real opportunities for faculty to provide various ways for Christians to think about this crisis — to help people come to a greater understanding of what it means to be a Christian witness in a COVID-shaped world.”

Included is a course that focuses on learning how Christian leaders and laypeople in the past have confronted epidemics like polio, the 1918 flu, and the bubonic plague.

Another course is called “Creation’s Sabbath,” which will ask students to reflect on how, as we have needed to stay indoors, interesting things are occurring outside. The air we breathe seems to be getting cleaner because fuel consumption is down. Meanwhile, animals are venturing out and reemerging in spaces normally dominated by people.

And, if you love sports and are unable to follow your favorite teams because large gatherings and public events have been canceled, perhaps you would be interested in taking time to better understand the idea of play. In the course “Play and Sport in a Time of Pandemic,” you can discuss such questions as “Does play have a place in a world that's reeling? And if play is so important to a healthy, productive life, how can we embrace it in the midst of a pandemic?”

Taught by a faculty of 15 experts, the academic courses are designed for pastors, teachers, worship leaders, and other lay leaders seeking continuing education, including those seeking undergraduate credit, seminary credit, or CEU credit — as well as lifelong learners of any age.

“These are global conversations that require us to see through many lenses,” said den Dulk, “There is tremendous value to cultivating an environment where learners from different cultures, generations, and career experiences are adding their voice to the conversation. 

“These courses are a way of getting us to imagine a way of thinking about a problem of this kind and how we are to act in this world, to act with justice and courage and hospitality,” said den Dulk.

The 23 three-week courses are available during one or more of the following sessions (June 1 - June 19, June 22 - July 10, or July 13 - July 31.) The cost of a class is $400 for college credit or $200 to audit. For more information and to register, visit A Christian Witness in a COVID-Shaped World.