inResponse - Omar Mouallem

For those needing a creative outlet during the COVID-19 Quarantine, a new online university has literally popped up overnight. Pandemic University, or PanU, was created by Omar Mouallem, an award-winning feature writer and author.

Jodi Goebel, founder of What I Wish I Knew, interviewed Omar about the overnight success story of this new online “University”

What is Pandemic University?

“It’s a cheeky online school, using school very loosely,” says Omar. “It’s a suite of 14 writing sessions...the type of professional development that would you find at professional development conferences. PanU has an impressive faculty including world-renowned cookbook authors, an Emmy-nominated screenwriter, and contributors to The New Yorker, National Geographic and The Atlantic.

Who’s attending Pandemic University?

Omar and the faculty have seen a surprising number of enrollments. “For class attendance, we’ve had some sessions with over 130 students.” Needless to say, this small passion project was widely popular seeing 500+ students signing up for the inaugural semester. Omar himself was pleasantly surprised, “sometimes you underestimate your ideas and they take on a life of their own”. People from across Canada have found this and rushed to get accepted. “A quarter of the people are writers starting out, another quarter is folks who just love writing”, the rest of the student body consists of seasoned writers and local community leaders looking hone their skills and explore new avenues of writing.

What’s the current state of information and misinformation and the role of media during a time like the COVID-19 shutdowns?

As distancing measures and new health rules drastically prevent media from covering government stories, questions arise how to keep the public sector accountable and how to get accurate information properly reported on. “I hope that people will see the value in journalism when they start to realize the importance of seeing correct, fact-checked information.” Not making any predictions Omar is hopeful that people will be careful with the information that circulates online and through popular social media streams.

Check out the full video interview with Omar above and follow Pandemic University on social media:

Instagram - @pandemicuniversity

Twitter - @PandemicSchool

Facebook - Pandemic University