In these difficult times, it’s easy to fall into a trap, thinking about what’s happening as if it’s happening just in our own community or workplace. But isn’t there value in looking at the broader picture? Of course we’re reading the local newspapers, and some of us even try to catch up with what’s happening elsewhere, scanning news from other countries.
But isn’t there more to it than that, if we’re trying to prepare for moving into a society and a way of life that is going to be very different from what we have had (even if we can’t yet identify what will be different)? While we’re very aware that we have two major crises facing us – the COVID-19 virus and the societal upheaval brought on as we try to address racism – we are also aware that they are connected.
Indeed, more than connected. In yesterday’s New York Times, David Brooks went so far as to posit that what we’re dealing with is five crises (America is Facing 5 Epic Crises All at Once), and his list makes much sense. Along with much else we’re seeing, it gives us credible reason to pause for thought.
These are crises that affect everyone, globally and locally, and if we can, we might also take the opportunity to think “bigger,” so to speak. For me, I’m finding inspiration in extremely fine content from Walter de Gruyter GmbH, the publishing house with which I’m affiliated (most readers know that I am the Series Editor for Knowledge Services, published by De Gruyter, which you can read about in the author note below or at my LinkedIn Profile).
De Gruyter is offering two free pamphlets on the pandemic, with both available online: 13 Perspectives on the Pandemic: Thinking in a State of Exception (a De Gruyter Humanities Pamphlet) and 12 Perspectives on the Pandemic: International Social Science Thought Leaders Reflect on Covid-19 (a De Gruyter Social Science Pamphlet). Each pamphlet contains essays from experts – as noted in the titles – in humanities and in social sciences. I’ve already dipped into several of these essays, finding them very useful, providing valuable and scholarly content with interesting historical background and, from a contemporary perspective, informative and of use.
As part of the same effort, De Gruyter is offering (also at no charge) a digital lecture series, De Gruyter Corona Talks: Thinking in a State of Exception, in which De Gruyter editors speak with scholars from various disciplines about the different intellectual approaches to take when trying to understand the effects of the global pandemic. These are scheduled for showing on YouTube at 6pm CET (noon, EDT) on the following dates (the first two are still available at the site):
June 18, 2020
Pandemics in Global History.
Dr. Thomas Zimmer, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
June 25, 2020
A Crisis of Value. Stoic Responses to the Pandemic.
Tue Emil Öhler Søvsø, Freie Universität Berlin
July 2, 2020
Living through a Pandemic. The Spanish Flu and Covid-19.
Dr. Ida Milne, Carlow College, St Patrick’s
July 9, 2020
Covid-19 and World War One Nursing.
Dr. Viv Newman, University of Essex
July 16, 2020
Dangerous Comparisons. Historical Pandemics and Covid-19.
Dr. Merle Eisenberg, Princeton University
I have already listened to the first two lectures (on YouTube I searched under “De Gruyter Corona Talks” and I found them easily). Each lecture is followed by a discussion between the lecturer and the moderator and includes write-in questions from attendees, making the whole experience very worthwhile. I’ve learned a great deal, which is probably why I’m sharing this information. It’s a good opportunity for all of us, and with this information, we can be better prepared for what’s happening. Or will happen.
De Gruyter describes the pamphlets and the lectures as having been prepared to provide “a virtual space for thinkers in the humanities and social sciences to historically embed and critically interrogate our response to the Covid-19 crisis,” with the hope that they will become “a useful part of the academic response to reflect the current moment.”
A very fine effort and much appreciated.