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Austin Peay State University offering May political science class examining international response to COVID-19

Austin Peay State University - APSUClarksville, TN – In February, the news coming out of South Korea sounded grim. That country had the second highest number of COVID-19 Coronavirus cases in the world, and it seemed as if the number would only keep growing.

Austin Peay State University professor Dr. Matt Kenney. (APSU)
Austin Peay State University professor Dr. Matt Kenney. (APSU)

Three months later, South Korea is one of the few countries slowly returning to “normal,” with businesses opening and no state-at-home orders in effect.

Last week, Reuters reported that “after grappling with the first major outbreak outside China, South Korea has largely managed to bring the outbreak under control without major disruptions thanks to a massive testing campaign and intensive contact tracing.”

What exactly did the country’s political leaders do to contain the deadly virus? A new special section of International Politics – offered this May at Austin Peay State University (APSU) – will examine how governments such as South Korea and the United States have responded to the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic.

“The course has been on the books for many years, but I wanted to give it this focus on the pandemic as a case study because the pandemic is global and international,” Dr. Matt Kenney, professor of political science, said. “For our students, unlike a lot of world events, this is one they’re experiencing as intensely as the rest of us. And sometimes with academic courses, students can say, ‘how is this relevant?’”

The online class – International Politics 2070 – will be offered May 11th-29th during Austin Peay State University’s Maymester, and it will use current news reports and digital resources instead of a textbook. The course will examine how leaders and governments in different countries have responded to the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m going to look at how states and countries have responded to this pandemic, and how they are positioning themselves as we move forward,” Kenney said. “In international relations and international politics, we tend to focus on the most powerful states – the U.S., China, France – but in this particular case I also want to look at those states that are not major powers that have responded well – New Zealand, South Korea, Scandinavian countries.”

Kenney, in discussing countries that have successfully controlled the pandemic, is careful not to use the phrase “returning to normal.” In terms of international politics, is “normal” a good thing?    

“Do we want to return to normal or is this an opportunity to make adjustments that have been needed to be made for some time?” he said. “Changes in global poverty, income inequality, treatment of women. And while this can be a time of stress for us in the United States, for many people in poorer countries, it’s almost like a death sentence.”

For information on the department and its course offerings, visit www.apsu.edu/political-science-public-management/

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