Skip to content

This module introduces the concept of “criminogenic asymmetries” in times of emergency and explores ways in which crises are constructed and potentially abused by those in authority (session 1). The module also discusses topics such as “lawful but awful” practices and “institutional corruption”, in order to pave the ground for policy implications and ideas towards strategies and approaches for both the public and private sectors (session 2).

By the end of this module, you should be able to:

  • Appreciate and analyze health and more general emergency conditions conducive to opportunities for serious crime, motives to avail of such opportunities, and control weaknesses.
  • Become familiar with tools to evaluating the role and responsibility of authorities in the pandemic and other emergency situations
  • Critically assess government and corporate actions in response to the pandemic.


  1. Lecture: Covid-19 and Crime: Tests in the Quality of Governance and Policy Response
  2. Reading: Elinor Amit, Jonathan Koralnik, Ann-Christin Posten, Miriam Muethel, and Lawrence Lessig, “Institutional Corruption Revisited: Exploring Open Questions within the Institutional Corruption Literature,” Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal
  3. Nikos Passas, Lawful but Awful Corporate Crimes
  4. Reading:  Michael Grabell and Bernice Yeung, “Meatpacking Companies Dismissed Years of Warnings but Now Say Nobody Could Have Prepared for COVID-19,” ProPublica
  5. Reading: Elizabeth Schulze, “Economist Mohamed El-Erian Warns About the Risk of ‘Zombie Markets’,” CNBC
  6. Lecture: Vaccines Merck CEO
  7. Reading: Scott Pelley, “Trump Administration Cuts Funding For Coronavirus Researcher, Jeopardizing Possible Covid-19 Cure,” CBS News
  8. Reading: Ed Yong, “How the Pandemic Defeated America,” The Atlantic
  9. Reading: Sen Pei, Sasikiran Kandula, and Jeffrey Shaman,“Differential Effects of Intervention Timing on COVID-19 Spread in the United States,” MedRXiv
  10. Listen: The U.S. Covid Response: “It’s Chaos. Anyone Who Says Otherwise Isn’t Paying Attention” The Diane Rehm Show
  11. Reading: Anthony Gooch, “Fighting Disinformation: A Key Pillar of The COVID-19 Recovery,” The Forum
  12. Reading: Phil Williamson, “Take the Time and Effort to Correct Misinformation,” Nature
  13. Reading: Tim Hanstad, “Corruption is Rife in the COVID-19 Era. Here’s How to Fight Back,” World Economic Forum 
  14. Reading: Jeremy Schwab, “Fighting COVID-19 could cost 500 times as much as pandemic prevention measures,” World Economic Forum
  15. Reading: Beth Duff-Brown, “How Taiwan Used Big Data, Transparency and a Central Command to Protect Its People from Coronavirus,” Standford Health Policy
  16. Reading: Roy Arundhati, “The Pandemic is a Portal,” Financial Times
  17. Video: The Great Realisation

Write a research paper of up to 15 pages covering the following questions on emergencies and crime:

What parallels can you find between the COVID-19 emergency and past ones associated with previous health challenges (e.g., Ebola, H1N1, etc.), fires (e.g., in California), hurricanes (e.g., Katrina, Puerto Rico, etc.), security/conflict contexts (e.g., Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan), earthquakes (e.g., Haiti, Pakistan, Turkey) or tsunamis and floods (e.g., Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka). Pick one type of past emergency and contrast it with COVID-19. Outline the type of crime problems that emerged in those contexts, describe them in terms of criminal offenses, abuse of power, lawful but lawful and/or institutional corruption. Conclude with a section on the policy lessons should we learn from them