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Monmouth University Publishes COVID-19 Book Authored by Undergraduates in the Earliest Days of the Pandemic

WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – When Monmouth University students began the Spring 2020 semester in their Law and Society course, they had no idea they would be finishing it out in the midst of a global pandemic, let alone writing a book about many of the legal and social issues confronting society as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic itself.

Written by Monmouth University undergraduates during the frantic months of March and April 2020, “Confronting COVID: Research and Reflections of Monmouth University Students in the Early Days of the COVID-19 Pandemic” examines some of the most challenging issues of the time. It includes chapters on lockdown orders, child welfare, special education, college and university students, unemployment, mental health, the elderly, price gouging, child custody, the stock market, and student loans.

The work emerged after Lawrence Jones, a former New Jersey Superior Court judge and adjunct faculty member, revised his Law and Society curriculum on the fly to include real-time focus on many specific “first impression” legal and social issues brought on or exacerbated by the pandemic. According to Jones, “Confronting COVID” is believed to be the first COVID-19-related book in the United States authored by college students who lived and studied through the early days of the pandemic in March and April 2020.

“The book helps capture for posterity a critical period of time when the coronavirus suddenly paralyzed the nation, injecting both mass uncertainty and the need for heightened resilience into all of our lives,” said Jones. “The students were literally conducting their research and writing their chapters as the COVID-19 pandemic swept like wildfire through the country, turning everyday life upside down while instantly raising a tidal wave of legal and social issues with little or no recent precedent.”

The student-authors, most of whom are pursuing a pre-law course of study, brought a range of academic experience to the project, including five seniors (Nick Gibson, Quinn Kelly, Brielle Amanda Sanders, Andres Trujillo, and Alexa Zuppa), two juniors (Kaylee R. M. Baduria and Jasmine Cooper), three sophomores (Grace Joyce, Rebecca Malinowski, and Chyna Walker), and one first-year student (Sarah Reutti).

According to Cooper, who wrote the chapter on lockdown orders, the book project allowed her to turn watching the news into something productive.

“I used the opportunity to look at the legal implications of the pandemic and understand it on a deeper level,” said Cooper. “I love doing research and it gave me a real appreciation for what’s to come.”

Cooper plans to attend law school after she completes her degree at Monmouth. “I want to work on the law review,” she said.

Kenneth Mitchell, chair of the department of political science and sociology, noted that the book captures how young people processed, adjusted, and navigated this unique time at the University and also how they sought to find connections between their coursework and events unfolding around the COVID-19 crisis.

“This project represents a timely and novel contribution,” said Mitchell. “Higher education too often is conceived as the transfer of skills to young people when in fact, at its best, it provides the intellectual curiosity and general critical thinking abilities to unpack and comprehend the daily challenges, questions, and opportunities that come our way.”

“Confronting COVID: Research and Reflections of Monmouth University Students in the Early Days of the COVID-19 Pandemic” is available at the Guggenheim Memorial Library on the University campus.