By Dr. William Oliver Hedgepeth
Faculty Member, Transportation and Logistics Management, American Public University
That supply chains are currently broken is evidenced by the lack of essential food and household items on grocery shelves. The food supply chain is very complex, perhaps the most complex system we have working for us behind the scenes. As a result of the coronavirus that has spawned the COVID-19 pandemic, college and university courses in logistics, supply chain, and crisis management will need updating.
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The Effects of COVID-19 Have Forced Educational Institutions to Reevaluate Their Course Offerings
There is nothing in any college course syllabus now about how COVID-19 will affect logistics, supply chain, history, business management, leadership, project management, accounting, finance and other disciplines. Professors and students — as well as deans, presidents and provosts — are no doubt already thinking about how COVID-19 will affect classrooms and institutions beyond having already shut them down for who knows how long.
New data being gathered about COVID-19 will require updating current textbooks and course-related articles. These new courses will provide an excellent platform to test several theories that have been proposed since the Great Recession of 2008.
For example, there might be a need for a course in forward and reverse logistics as they are affected by COVID-19 and possible future pandemics. Such courses would analyze how various forms of logistics could help ease any future pandemic.
Obviously, some theories of risk associated with forward and reverse logistics would apply generically regardless of what type of risk event has occurred. Other theories would be applicable only to a risk event the size and scope of COVID-19.
It will take several years after this pandemic is over for people to sift through all the data. Once a new text and articles have been published, logistics and supply chain management courses will need to be changed to reflect the new information. There is enough of a requirement for these courses to draw into a more advanced or a narrower scope for certain parts of the risk management process that could result in new or other current classes in crisis management.
But it really goes beyond just those two types of courses, as COVID-19 has a certain impact on all our college or university courses.
A Game Plan to Asses How COVID-19 Should Change Future Academic Offerings
During the spring and summer, all universities and colleges should consider getting their best innovative thinkers together and create an online, virtual lecture series on COVID-19’s impact on their academic offerings. Such a series should have five to seven parts, depending on the ingenuity of those who design it. This free lecture series will inform the student body, the faculty and all other interested parties.
The lectures should last at least one hour and include discussions by invited guest experts and faculty. Afterward, the audience should break into three different groups. Each group will consider one of the three levels of issues that face all college students and teachers.
Group One would look at the strategic 30,000-foot level of how to change or modify all or select college course offerings. Group Two would look at the 10,000-foot operational level of how each course so identified should be changed or modified. Group Three would look the 10-foot level, how the students and ordinary citizens view the COVID-19 crisis.
These three groups will not talk to each other; otherwise each group’s findings might taint the other two. The results from all three groups would form one common set of issues, problems and solutions.
Finally, the three groups will brief the Deans and Provost, faculty, program directors and faculty on their opinions and findings. Only then does the audience discuss what could merge into one set of findings.
This plan would enhance specific courses or to create a series of continuous COVID-19-oriented lectures for the school and the public. This approach would help dig into the unknown areas of the future of society and education.
About the Author
Dr. Oliver Hedgepeth is a full-time professor at American Public University (APU). He was program director of three academic programs: Reverse Logistics Management, Transportation and Logistics Management and Government Contracting. He was Chair of the Logistics Department at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Dr. Hedgepeth was the founding Director of the Army’s Artificial Intelligence Center for Logistics from 1985 to 1990, Fort Lee, Virginia.