Convergent Science to Tackle COVID-19

Ronit Freeman, associate professor of applied physical sciences, is teaching her students to use convergent thinking to solve real-world challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Freeman teaches an “Introduction to Convergent Engineering” class that consists of a cohort of 12 undergraduate and graduate students across different majors. Influenced by recent events, Freeman has shifted the entire theme of the class to address COVID-19.

“We are now thinking about what is the next technology the world will need over the next few weeks and months related to the pandemic,” said Freeman, “and how as a class can we make a contribution to what is happening now?”

Freeman’s students are also learning ways to accurately validate scientific information, news stories and other source material using the CRAAP test. (CRAAP stands for Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy and Purpose.) Earlier in the semester, they used BeAM to make a CRAAP board game, and now they’re even looking at possible development of a software-based CRAAP test.

This kind of collaboration across disciplines, or majors in this case, serves as the backbone of convergent science. By bringing together students and researchers from various fields and interests, Carolina will be best prepared to tackle the pandemic.

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