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Episode 14

Leadership and the Humanities Podcast

Episode 14: Plague and Pandemic

The Great War ended with a pandemic: the Spanish Influenza epidemic of 1918-1919. But it was not the first such global outbreak of a deadly disease… and, as we know all too well, it also would not be the last…

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The following works were used in this podcast:

Aizenman, Nurith. “New Global Coronavirus Death Forecast Is Chilling — And Controversial.”, September 4, 2020.

Carmichael, Ann G. “Plague Persistence in Western Europe: A Hypothesis.” In Pandemic Disease in the Medieval World: Rethinking the Black Death, edited by Monica H. Green, 157–91. The Medieval Globe 1. Kalamazoo: ARC Medieval Press, 2015.

Colet, Anna, Josep Xavier Muntané i Santiveri, Jordi Ruíz Ventura, Oriol Saula, M. Eulàlia Subirà de Galdàcano, and Clara Jáuregui. “The Black Death and Its Consequences for the Jewish Community in Tàrrega: Lessons from History and Archaeology.” In Pandemic Disease in the Medieval World: Rethinking the Black Death, edited by Monica H. Green, 63–96. The Medieval Globe 1. Kalamazoo: ARC Medieval Press, 2015.

Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. “COVID-19 Map.” Accessed September 27, 2020.

DeWitte, Sharon N. “The Anthropology of Plague: Insights from Bioarcheological Analyses of Epidemic Cemeteries.” In Pandemic Disease in the Medieval World: Rethinking the Black Death, edited by Monica H. Green, 97–123. The Medieval Globe 1. Kalamazoo: ARC Medieval Press, 2015.

Gillespie, Claire. “This Is How Many People Die From the Flu Each Year, According to the CDC | Health.Com.”, September 24, 2020.

Green, Monica H. “Editor’s Introduction to Pandemic Disease in the Medieval World: Rethinking the Black Death.” In Pandemic Disease in the Medieval World: Rethinking the Black Death, edited by Monica H. Green, 9–26. The Medieval Globe 1. Kalamazoo: ARC Medieval Press, 2015.

———. “Taking ‘Pandemic’ Seriously: Making the Black Death Global.” In Pandemic Disease in the Medieval World: Rethinking the Black Death, edited by Monica H. Green, 27–61. The Medieval Globe 1. Kalamazoo: ARC Medieval Press, 2015.

Guarino, Ben. “We Were Wrong About Rats Spreading The Black Death Plague.” ScienceAlert, January 17, 2018, sec. HUMANS.

Jarus, Owen. “20 of the Worst Epidemics and Pandemics in History.” LiveScience, March 20, 2020, sec. All About History.

Varlik, Nükhet. “New Science and Old Sources: Why the Ottoman Experience of Plague Matters.” In Pandemic Disease in the Medieval World: Rethinking the Black Death, edited by Monica H. Green, 193–227. The Medieval Globe 1. Kalamazoo: ARC Medieval Press, 2015.

Ziegler, Michelle. “The Black Death and the Future of the Plague.” In Pandemic Disease in the Medieval World: Rethinking the Black Death, edited by Monica H. Green, 259–83. The Medieval Globe 1. Kalamazoo: ARC Medieval Press, 2015.

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  1. Zariah Chiverton Zariah Chiverton

    Why is it so hard for governments to get people to listen to the very simple social distancing and mask rules?

  2. Madeline Orr Madeline Orr

    In Podcast 14, Dr. Bezio discusses the history of pandemics and plague throughout the world. She discusses similar patterns and behaviors that have been seen throughout these historical plagues that we are seeing today with Covid-19. With so many studies and accounts in history of these pandemics, why has it been so difficult to formulate plans of prevention and containment within our country? Previous pandemics and epidemics have been widely known and studied to show the significance and dangers, so why has this not been predicted or planned for?

  3. Olivia Cosco Olivia Cosco

    In podcast 14, Dr. Bezio discussed many different epidemics that the world has been through. As we look at all of the epidemics, I am left wonder why can’t we figure it out by now? And off of what Zariah questioned, I am also wondering why people feel like they are invincible, while knowing the damage Covid-19 has done, as well as other epidemics in the past?

  4. Kathrine Yeaw Kathrine Yeaw

    This podcast highlights the amount of epidemics the world has experienced for many centuries. The countless amount of plaques and viruses that have hit countries and the world so many years ago I would think should have taught us something. Although, it seems as though there hasn’t been much advancement in controlling the spread, and know we know more about the viruses than 100 years ago. So why are they still such a massive problem? Why haven’t we learned more in the thousands of years that these epidemics have been going on? Is it because we don’t care about the problem until it’s too late or we have tried and we just can’t?

  5. Isabela Keetley Isabela Keetley

    While I have learned about the plague, the Spanish flu, polio, the swine flu, etc. I had no idea how far back in history epidemics really went. Listening to podcast 14 I wondered how a certain illness turns from a disease/illness to an epidemic. Is it due to the amount of deaths? Or is determined by the amount of people who actually become infected? Right now in the US we are fighting two epidemics and one pandemic: Zika, HIV, and COVID-19. However, if someone were to ask me I would have only been able to name COVID-19, because that is the one that affects me most. I am embarrassed to admit that, however I think it’s necessary for us as a nation to admit our faults and work together to overcome these epidemics and pandemics. If we know unity is the answer (especially in the case of COVID19), then how come we cannot agree and work together?

  6. Sara Moushegian Sara Moushegian

    Were any of these past epidemics also around election time and did that play a role in how the nation handled the rapid spread of the illness like it is currently in America? Were people more abiding by safety protocols put in place by the government to prevent the spread than people are now?

  7. Olivia Cranshaw Olivia Cranshaw

    In this podcast, and in Trever Noah’s video, I thought it was really interesting to see how medical technology has completely shifted in some areas, like penicillin, but we still have some of the same protection measures like masks and social distancing. How important is medical discovery and experimentation for combatting a virus on a national or international scale? Are new medical innovations necessary for combatting new diseases, can we rely on what has worked in the past, or do we need a mix of the two?

  8. Sofia Adams Sofia Adams

    In podcast 14 Dr. Bezio discusses pandemics. I had no idea there have been so many pandemics and epidemics all throughout history. I had heard of the Black Death, Spanish flu, and swine flu before but that was it. It makes sense that as the world got closer more pandemics were able to break out and survive. This podcast left me with some questions. How can we take the knowledge learned from all past pandemics and epidemics to inform our approach to how we handle covid-19 as a whole world? Are we going to look back on how we are handling covid-19 patients and the pandemic in general as ludicrous the way we look at the practices during the black plague?

  9. William Coben William Coben

    Upon listening to Podcast Episode 14, I was drawn back by the frequency of epidemics that have been seen throughout history. I was never taught about the variety of epidemics that the human species has endured, and was very surprised by that. However, my question lies similar to those who have posted before me but is slightly nuanced: What can the social effects of epidemics that we have seen in history allow us to infer about the social effects that the current world will endure once this pandemic is over. I am curious to see how everyday life will change and am curious as to what the world will look like when COVID is no longer problematic.

  10. Michael Childress Michael Childress

    In listening to episode 14 of the podcasts, I noticed a couple common themes among most of the pandemics/ struggles. Those in power seem to think they know more than they actually do. Do you think this is an ego issue, or do you think its is because leaders don’t want their followers and community to panic? Furthermore, if leaders show vulnerability n a situation like covid19, and say “I’m not sure what we are dealing with right now, but we will handle it to the best of our abilities”? Does this vulnerability tend to make them look weak and unknowing or does it make them honest and up front with their people?

  11. Elina Bhagwat Elina Bhagwat

    Podcast 14 made me question a few things about the coronavirus and how we are dealing with it. I thought it was really interesting how similar past pandemics have been to COVID-19, which then makes me wonder why we haven’t learned from the past as much as we should have. Thinking about all the scientific discoveries and information we know now, and why we haven’t completely applied them to the current pandemic. Or, why some state refuse to make regulations and people refuse to abide by regulations that will help with containing the pandemic. Another question I thought of was in regard to vaccines. Based on historical pandemics and plagues, it seems that the only hope is a vaccine, do you think this is true for coronavirus as well?

  12. Alexander Dimedio Alexander Dimedio

    This podcast talks about many pandemics and the effects they had on the world. How has modern Technology impacted the rate of death among people during a pandemic? We now understand that we should not do rituals where we would contract a disease from other people, so what would life be like today if we did not know that? If technology does play a large role, then why is Covid doing the most damage to a first world country? The podcast talks about how the people who ate better and were healthier were more likely to survive a pandemic, so how does wealth play into surviving in a pandemic? Moving on to how people react to Covid, Should blame be placed on the people who live at the origin of the pandemic? Can President Trump constantly blaming China for the outbreak of Covid-19 be justified?

  13. Thomas Bennett Thomas Bennett

    When listening to the podcast it became extremely clear that the majority of important medical techniques have been discovered within the last century. Is it likely that this rapid pace of medical discovery will continue, or even get faster, and will pandemics eventually become a smaller part of history as a result?

  14. Sophia Picozzi Sophia Picozzi

    I found it really interesting observing how illnesses that plague the whole world are coined or named over the course of history. This year, there was a lot of controversy when Trump repeatedly called COVID-19 “The Chinese Virus” and I found it crazy that this wasn’t the first time in human history that a virus was tied to a certain ethnic group. For example, the Spanish Flu is the name given to the flu of 1918, meanwhile the outbreak didn’t even begin in Spain. This made me wonder why, as a society and civilization, do we put ethnic or racial connotations to things that have nothing to do with these demographics? Why are we so quick to put negative connotations on other ethnicities even when the world is being plagued by something that is so out of every human’s control? Is it a form of discrimination or racism? Is it an intended form of ostracism to maintain other ethnicities’ superiority?

  15. Maggie Otradovec Maggie Otradovec

    Studying the deadly diseases of the past is incredibly interesting. The culture and events of the time period due to outbreaks shows a lot about human nature (that’s bad, let’s avoid it and burn some houses down). With that being said, why is it that we still have not perfected the response to an epidemic or pandemic, despite the almost twenty we have faced throughout history?

  16. William Clifton William Clifton

    In Podcast 14 Dr. Bezio addresses the history of pandemics. For obvious reasons this is very applicable to the lives of every single person on earth today. COVID-19 has etched itself into history for the rest of time. That being said, why is it that something that is this serious and has caused the entire planet to seemingly stop spinning is seen by many as a joke. Or seen as something that is not worthy of following guidelines and precautions to help contain the spread. I think in America we see this narrative of disbelief especially present. There is something in the American DNA that tells us we are above all else. For example, President Trump didn’t believe that the virus had any chance of reaching America, and even if it did he didn’t think it would have the power to shut down our economy as if we were too powerful for science to phase us. Yet here we are. What is it about America that breeds this entitlement? Is it out history?

  17. Zachary Andrews Zachary Andrews

    I found the podcast to be very interesting. I had no idea that the Bubonic Plague was actually a combination of numerous diseases, not just the Black Death which I though it was originally. Something that came to mind during the podcast was, how common was it for armies to use disease and infected corpses to attack other forces, towns, and cities like the Mongol Army did? Was this tactic used by other nations?

  18. Henry Groves Henry Groves

    I enjoyed the 14th podcast. The history of plagues and various sicknesses is very interesting and very prevalent with COVID 19 dictating what happens in today’s society. The thing that really stuck with me is that plague has been a problem for humans forever and with COVID, it really has shown that the progression of containing it has not gotten better. I was wondering if there would ever be a time in which there would be no plague and sickness? If society will develop to be so advanced that there will be no need to worry about a plague outbreak.

  19. Mia Slaunwhite Mia Slaunwhite

    As Dr. Bezio had mentioned that there were many waves of the plague, the different waves brought different effects. Would the different flus be considered waves each year? The flu shot contains the flu from past years, so would this year’s flu be considered a new wave of the flu. And another illness, would different waves of COVID be current in the upcoming years?

  20. Charley Blount Charley Blount

    Does the severity of certain diseases correlate to an increase in disease prevention and treatment funding? For example, did the WHO and CDC see more funding after the Swine Flu? If there is an increase, is it permanent or do these organizations receive funding cuts in decades without pandemics?

  21. Mohamad Kassem Mohamad Kassem

    In this podcast, Dr. Bezio talks about different historical pandemics that humanity has gone through and the impact of these pandemics on countries. This podcast also discusses how leaders reacted to these pandemics and we see similar patterns between the 1918 plague pandemic and Coronavirus pandemic.
    In recent news, Woodward has proven that president Trump knew how dangerous this virus is; in addition to having the historical information about the impact of such pandemics on humanity. Why did the president play this virus down knowing how deadly it is? What would be the impact of this virus on future generations and would we ever be able to go back to what was normal?

  22. Michael Stein Michael Stein

    In the United States, the COVID-19 pandemic has coincided with massive social awakening in light of the murder of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and other innocent people of color. While these most recent killings have sparked movements to call for massive change, these killings were not the first of their kind. How do pandemics shape social movements? What other historical movements have coincided with epidemics and pandemics of the past?

  23. Pierce Kaliner Pierce Kaliner

    Through Podcast 14 I realized just how often these epidemics happen. And, as a society we actually seem to be experiencing them at a rising rate, for example we have had Ebola, Zika and now COVID in just a 7 year span. So, why does it seem like the rate at which these pandemics are increasing, and is there any way for us in the future to prevent them from happening? Or, how can we catch them earlier to prevent them from becoming COVID like outbreaks?

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