The Effects of the 14th-Century Plague on Medieval European Society and Parallels in the 2014 Ebola Outbreak

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2015-12-01
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Bauer, Joel
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Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology

The Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology seeks to teach the studies of ecology (organisms and their environment), evolutionary theory (the origin and interrelationships of organisms), and organismal biology (the structure, function, and biodiversity of organisms). In doing this, it offers several majors which are codirected with other departments, including biology, genetics, and environmental sciences.

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The Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology was founded in 2003 as a merger of the Department of Botany, the Department of Microbiology, and the Department of Zoology and Genetics.

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2003–present

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University Honors Program

The Honors project is potentially the most valuable component of an Honors education. Typically Honors students choose to do their projects in their area of study, but some will pick a topic of interest unrelated to their major.

The Honors Program requires that the project be presented at a poster presentation event. Poster presentations are held each semester. Most students present during their senior year, but may do so earlier if their honors project has been completed.

This site presents project descriptions and selected posters for Honors projects completed since the Fall 2015 semester.

Abstract

Disease represents a strong driving force of societal and cultural change, which repeats itself today. During the 14th century, the Plague ravaged Europe, and fear of illness, destruction, and hopelessness changed society. Fear of the Plague altered the religious climate of the entire continent and drove many to commit acts of violence. Lack of knowledge about the Plague changed the way medicine was taught and practiced, moving towards modern medicine. Governments began to take a more active role in the health of the citizens, and national legislation began having greater impacts at the local level. The centuries old economic structure began to crumble, setting the stage for more balanced, free-market trade. Those factors—mentality, medicine, law, and economics—elicited similar reactions in the 2014 Ebola Outbreak. Fear of Ebola resulted in violence. Medical researchers were inspired by the outbreak to learn more about Ebola and are looking for potential cures and vaccines. Laws restricting travel and advocating healthy practices dominated the infected countries. The economies of the diseased areas suffered. Little has changed in the nature of people in medieval Europe and today; though centuries have passed, societies respond to disease in the same fundamental ways. Disease represents a strong driving force of societal and cultural change, which repeats itself today. During the 14th century, the Plague ravaged Europe, and fear of illness, destruction, and hopelessness changed society. Fear of the Plague altered the religious climate of the entire continent and drove many to commit acts of violence. Lack of knowledge about the Plague changed the way medicine was taught and practiced, moving towards modern medicine. Governments began to take a more active role in the health of the citizens, and national legislation began having greater impacts at the local level. The centuries old economic structure began to crumble, setting the stage for more balanced, free-market trade. Those factors—mentality, medicine, law, and economics—elicited similar reactions in the 2014 Ebola Outbreak. Fear of Ebola resulted in violence. Medical researchers were inspired by the outbreak to learn more about Ebola and are looking for potential cures and vaccines. Laws restricting travel and advocating healthy practices dominated the infected countries. The economies of the diseased areas suffered. Little has changed in the nature of people in medieval Europe and today; though centuries have passed, societies respond to disease in the same fundamental ways.

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