Loyola University Chicago

College of Arts & Sciences

Faculty Spotlight: Jo N. Hays

Jo N. Hays, Professor Emeritus in the Department of History in the College of Arts and Sciences at Loyola University Chicago, has co-authored the book Epidemics and Pandemics: From Ancient Plagues to Modern-Day Threats.

Jo N. Hays, PhD, Professor Emeritus in the Department of History in the College of Arts and Sciences at Loyola University Chicago, has co-authored Epidemics and Pandemics: From Ancient Plagues to Modern-Day Threats (Greenwood Publishing Group 2021) with economist Joseph Byrne.

 

Hays’ book focuses on how wide-scale disease outbreaks have played an important role throughout human history, from the Black Death that ravaged Europe in the 14th century and the influenza pandemic following World War I, to the global COVID-19 pandemic of today. In addition to the toll they take on human lives, epidemics have spurred medical innovations, toppled governments, crippled economies, and led to cultural revolutions. Hay’s book provides readers with a holistic view of the terrifying – and fascinating – topic of epidemics and pandemics.

 

Beyond their impact on public health, epidemics shape and are shaped by political, economic, and social forces. Epidemics and Pandemics examines these connections, exploring key topics in the study of disease outbreaks and delving deeply into historical and contemporary examples. Hays’ earlier 2009 book, The Burdens of Disease: Epidemics and Human Response in Western History, was nominated as an Outstanding Academic Title in 2010 and explored the idea that epidemic disease is often driven by poverty and other social and economic factors.

 

Hays joined the History Department at Loyola in 1965, rising to the rank of full professor, until he retired in 2002 and was granted the rank of Professor Emeritus. His teaching included courses in the histories of science, medicine, and technology, modern British and British imperial history, intellectual history, the history of industrialization, and senior and honors colloquia. He frequently taught in the summer “Learning Advancement for Academic Progress” (LEAP) program for students admitted at risk. Hays also taught for several years in the medical humanities at the Stritch School of Medicine and served on the College of Arts and Sciences Health Professions Advisory Committee.

 

“Professor Hays’ book clearly demonstrates how rigorous, scholarly analyses of historical cases of epidemics and pandemics are crucial to understanding and effectively responding to their contemporary variants,” says Peter J. Schraeder, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Loyola University Chicago. “It is truly a gift to the College that Professor Emeritus Hays continues to serve students and engage with academic colleagues despite the fact that he retired in 2002. He is the perfect embodiment of why universities including Loyola seek to maintain links with retired faculty by providing them with Professor Emeritus status.”

 

Hays remains actively engaged in scholarship. His current project attempts to chart the interrelations of disease environments and how the world-wide Western empires of the nineteenth century responded to them.