By Sara Grundy

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The start of vaccine rollout across the country has brought hope, but also questions about which populations should receive priority. The CDC recommends prioritizing healthcare and other essential workers, residents of long-term care facilities, people 75 and older, those with chronic conditions and incarcerated populations. The last of those recommendations continues to draw scrutiny, including recently from Governor Jared Polis of Colorado. Despite being known for campaigning on criminal justice reform, he recently said “There’s no way [the COVID-19 vaccine] is going to go to prisoners before it goes to people who haven’t committed any crime”.

Throughout the pandemic, prisons and jails have been hit particularly hard by COVID-19 outbreaks. To date, more than 1 in 5 people in U.S. prisons or jails have contracted COVID-19 and over 2,100 have died. The CDC recognized this burden and appropriately recommended prioritizing incarcerated populations during initial vaccine rollout. The American Medical Association agrees, stating that “being incarcerated or detained should not be synonymous with being left totally vulnerable to COVID-19”. …

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Canvassers from Bull City Votes canvassing in Georgia. Photo courtesy Faulkner Fox

By Faulkner Fox

I didn’t see footage of the siege until 9 p.m. that night. My mother had texted me earlier: “Watching the storming of the Capitol?” “Driving,” I texted back. “Glad you’re coming home. DC is really scary,” she replied. But I wasn’t coming home — not yet. My husband and I were driving west from Savannah, not sure yet where we were headed.

I was in Georgia with a Durham, North Carolina get-out-the-vote group, Bull City Votes. About 50 of us arrived in Savannah on November 29, invited by local organizers to help register voters. Many of us came back to Georgia for Early Vote, Election Day, and the days after. On January 6, a lot of us were driving through the state to cure ballots — help people fix problems so their votes would count. …

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Editor’s Note: This is part of an occasional series of essays by Duke faculty members whose normal fall 2020 class routines were disrupted by the pandemic. These essays will examine how faculty adapted.

By Maria Tackett

In the Fall of 2020, I taught two courses — STA 199: Intro to Data Science and STA 210: Regression Analysis — completely online. There were about 90 students in each course, so I knew one of the biggest changes would be transitioning the lectures from face-to-face to remote learning.

During a typical face-to-face lecture, I introduced new concepts and there were short discussion questions and activities throughout the lecture. As I considered how to structure lectures for remote learning, I had two primary…

By Isabel Shapiro

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Me, too. I, like so many others, reveled in the schadenfreude of so many Hollywood abusers getting their comeuppance in the media, but the glow quickly faded. In 2017, when the #MeToo Movement went viral, I was working with impoverished, recently incarcerated people during the day and bartending in a firmly middle-class establishment at night. Even as I celebrated the downfall of Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein with my evening co-workers, I couldn’t help but notice how far away it all felt from my day job. …

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Editor’s Note: This is part of an occasional series of essays by Duke faculty members whose normal fall 2020 class routines were disrupted by the pandemic. These essays will examine how faculty adapted.

In July, we learned that our fall English for International Students (EIS) classes would be taught fully online. Many of our students living abroad would be unable to move to Durham, so we knew our Oral Communications classes would need major changes. In previous semesters, we had successfully collaborated to create a project-based class focused on academic and professional oral communication skills. …

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By David Eagle

As a white evangelical and a scholar of religion, I’ve listened with dismay as media outlets time and again repeat the mantra “white evangelical Christians are some of Trump’s most loyal supporters.” Plain and simple, this is wrong. In the media, the term evangelical has become synonymous with a toxic brand of right-wing Republicanism. But this isn’t the whole of the evangelical movement.

Aided by surveys and polls, the evangelical label has become as much a political as a religious marker. According to Pew Research Center, upwards of 80 percent of white evangelicals voted for Trump in 2016; exit polls suggest similar numbers supported the president in 2020. …

By Charlie Cox

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Editor’s Note: This is part of an occasional series of essays by Duke faculty members whose normal fall 2020 class routines were disrupted by the pandemic. These essays will examine how faculty adapted.

I teach Chem 101, and to give students a realistic laboratory experience this fall, I used a combination of simulations and at-home experiments using ingredients they might find in their pantry or the baking section of the grocery store.

Students completed simulations during the first half of the semester for the more abstract content, which included experiments and content normally not covered in the laboratory. For the second half of the semester, we gave students reagents such as vinegar, crème of tartar, food coloring, and other household items to complete experiments associated with kinetics and acid-base chemistry while at home. We designed assessments for both the simulation and at-home experiments that emphasized data analysis and interpretation because of the importance of this objective in the chemistry curriculum. …

By Maurizio Forte

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Editor’s Note: This is part of an occasional series of essays by Duke faculty members whose normal fall 2020 class routines were disrupted by the pandemic. These essays will examine how faculty adapted.

When I started the fall semester, I was very worried about teaching my art history class, Virtual Museums (ARTHIST 305) — which usually has several digital lab activities — entirely online.

The enrollment was high, with 20 students from five different time zones stretching from Oregon to China and Singapore. This class was particularly focused on the impact of the COVID19 era on museums and cultural institutions, so we had the chance to reflect about cultural social challenges in class and in relation to a new and still unexplored topic. …

By Jen’nan Read

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Editor’s Note: This is the first in an occasional series of essays by Duke faculty members whose normal fall 2020 class routines were disrupted by the pandemic. These essays will examine how faculty adapted.

DURHAM, N.C. — This fall, I knew my Immigration and Health (SOC 250) class would be different. How could it not? I would teach it in person, twice a week to 27 students, socially distanced, wearing masks, in a large campus auditorium.

So I started from scratch and partnered with World Relief Durham (WRD), a non-profit refugee resettlement organization, to have the students work on team projects analyzing the organization’s data to improve refugee youth outcomes in the Durham community. I had never forged such a partnership for class before, and doing so meant completely changing the course requirements. In the past, students would pick generic topics related to immigration and health, not real-world problems right here in Durham. But thanks to a 2018 Rapid Response Research Grant from the William T. …

By Jeremy Carballo Pineda

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

Why hasn’t President Trump conceded the election, and why is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell supporting his decision? I believe the answer lies in understanding that modern American democracy is dangerously reminiscent of ancient Athenian democracy. Both democracies can be characterized by majority tyranny or mob rule and pride of factions. This regress has been fueled by the American conception of liberty and by a substantial increase in democratic and Republican political polarization.

We are no longer the republic that the founders envisioned in the Federalist papers. Our institutions were supposed to curtail factions, and, in James Madison’s words, “to guard one part of the society against the injustice of the other part.” With child separation policies at the border, the Muslim ban and police brutality in our collective memories, I feel confident proclaiming we have failed Madison. …

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