There is no doubt that we are facing a historic moment of extreme seriousness due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has had an impact on society, politics and the world economy. In this context, Colégio Loyola, a Jesuit School located in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil, tackled its mission as a member of an educational community concerned with promoting an education focused on global citizenship, guided by human and ethical values and committed to the promotion of justice. Following these principles, the school proposed a careful analysis (anchored in a scientific methodology) of problems that afflict humanity today, in order to find solutions that ensure a dignified life for all individuals on our planet, even in times of pandemic.
Centered on such concern with the experience of a pandemic and its consequences, students and teachers from freshman high school year at Colégio Loyola developed the Projeto Pandemias. The project carried out a transdisciplinary approach to pandemics throughout history, considering the impacts on society, politics, economics, human relations and artistic production, grounded on scientific references and different human expressions. The proposal was driven by reflections around the question: How do pandemics affect society? In order to accomplish the task, the students worked in thematic groups. Nine themes were investigated: Historical context; Politics; Society; Economy; Medicine and Health Systems; Art and Culture; Information X Disinformation; Religions and Religiosity; Altruism. Each theme was approached through transdisciplinary activities organized by areas of knowledge, which resulted in three distinct productions: 1. Codes and Languages: Illustrated Chronicles 2. Human Sciences and Mathematics: Videos 3. Nature Sciences: Proposals of a Social Intervention.
The project was developed over a quarter and had different stages, in which the autonomy of the students was valued. In classes from Codes and Languages area, students read chronicles in English and Spanish about pandemics that occurred in different historical contexts, went through creative writing workshops and, finally, produced illustrated chronicles that explored, verbally and imagery, personal experiences of the current pandemic. In the field of Natural Sciences, the students came up, based on laboratory experiments, with proposals of social intervention for problems associated with Covid-19. In the disciplines of Human Sciences and Mathematics, the representations of pandemics over time were discussed, as well as the construction of graphs and maps on the progress of Covid-19 in different regions. In order to present the results of such debates, students made short videos. The students’ three productions — illustrated chronicles, intervention proposals and videos — were posted on a Wix website.
The project, innovative and challenging, was very well received by the students, who, when self-assessed, reported that the approach to the topic aroused everyone’s interest, as it allowed them to reflect critically and scientifically on the historical moment we are going through. In addition to the relevance of the theme, the students highlighted that the project was developed in a light, motivating, gradual way and collaborated so that they felt committed to building a future full of hope.
The students feedback shows that the Projeto Pandemias was, therefore, consistent with the educational mission of Society of the Jesus, by collaborating with the full formation of youth and placing them in a position of exerting global citizenship.