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Smith - Junior Projects: COVID-19 Project

A set of resources for juniors completing Dr. Smith's class projects.

COVID-19 Assignment

Doing history requires many things of us. One of those is a sense of detachment from what we are studying, so that historians can maintain their sense of objectivity. In an ideal world, I suppose, historians would only focus on events long after they happened.  But, as the singer-songwriter John Prine (himself a victim of coronavirus) wrote, "It’s a crooked piece of time that we live in."  

What I'd like to try, then, is to do some history of the year 2020, making use of our historical skills to help us understand and to process these extraordinary times.  There are challenges inherent in trying to study an event that is so recent.  I think the benefits to us of studying the America in 2020 outweigh these difficulties.  So, your assignment is as follows:

Historians love to serve the academic community, and we have been called on, once again, to rise to the occasion.  The Head of the Burroughs History department contacted me from 2075 (apparently, they have time machines and this is how they chose to use them).  She wants help teaching how the nuttiness that was 2020 affected America by having you create a set of materials for her to teach.  She also let me in on a little secret—strangely, each one of you has a grandchild in her class.  So, to help your grandchildren and the future Head of the History Department, in your groups, you will:

  1. Write a text book entry of 1000 words that sets this year in proper historical context and conveys the relevant factual information a reader would need to understand 2020. Provide a bibliography of sources you used to write the text book entry.
  2. Write a set of readings (like our RAP/Historians disagree) of 1000 words each on the two topics below. Use proper citations.
    1. The first must be titled: “The Trump Administration's response to the pandemic failed in its responsibilities to the nation.”
    2. The second must be titled: “The Trump Administration effectively led the nation through the pandemic.”
  3. Research, collect, and curate a set of primary source readings from 2020 that explore the social, political, and economic aspects on the modern United States. Your group must write a fifty-word introduction to each of the sources explaining its relevance.  Make sure to cite your work, as well.  Those readings must include:
    1. Two government documents
    2. Two newspaper/magazine opinion pieces
    3. Two photographs
    4. Two political cartoons
    5. Two videos (provide the links)
    6. Two social media posts
    7. A 500 word letter from each member of your group to your respective grandchildren explaining how you lived in 2020 and how it impacted you.
  4. Each group will present its major findings in a class presentation during the last week of school.  Groups will present in the order that they are listed below, one per day.  Presentations should be a minimum of 25 minutes with every member participating.

Newspaper and Magazine Articles

Scientific Info and Stats

Government Information Sources

H.R.6201 - Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Multimedia Sources

News sites contain videos, social media posts and photographs that may be useful for your project.

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