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UArizona Applied Math COVID-19 Working Group - The Small World Network of College Classes: Implications for Epidemic Spread on a University Campus

Event

UArizona Applied Math COVID-19 Working Group - The Small World Network of College Classes: Implications for Epidemic Spread on a University Campus
Location: Zoom Meeting
Presenter: Kim Weeden, Department of Sociology, Cornell University

 To slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, many universities shifted to online instruction, and now face the question of whether and how to resume in-person instruction. This study uses transcript data from a medium-sized American university to describe enrollment networks that connect students through classes and, in the process, create social conditions for the spread of an infectious disease. These enrollment networks are “small worlds” characterized by high clustering, short average path lengths, and multiple independent paths connecting students. Students from different majors cluster together, but gateway courses and distributional requirements create cross-major integration. Connectivity declines when large courses of 100 students or more are removed from the network, as might be the case if some courses are taught online, but moderately sized courses must also be removed before less than half of student-pairs are connected in three steps and less than two-thirds in four steps. In all simulations, most students are connected through multiple independent paths. Hybrid models of instruction can thus reduce but not eliminate the potential for epidemic spread through the small worlds of course enrollments.  Zoomhttps://arizona.zoom.us/j/183045568 (begins at 12:30pm AZ Time - please do not log on before that time)