CEA Global Voices, the Critical Knowledge Podcast brings together experts and activists from different backgrounds to foster forward-thinking, cross-boundary and interdisciplinary conversations. The first season sheds light on important aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic as a historical, political, psychological, and scientific event. Moving from the most basic and individual concerns to the global picture, we wish to generate insights and discussions that can help us free ourselves from the atomized realm of our rooms and consider the implications of the historical moment we are living.
In episode 5 of CEA Global Voices, we spoke with two psychologists about the challenges for motivation and reaching out during the lockdown, with a special focus on education. Bhasker Malu is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at CHRIST in Bangalore, India. He has developed a website- Onestoppsychology.com, and co-developed an android app called Summarizing Psychology. He has researched student motivation and contributed his insights into the role of isolation and technology on the psychology of human beings. Jesper Jørgensen is a space psychologist and astrosociologist. His knowledge about the psychology of astronauts and sailors who spend long periods of time in varying states of isolation, and about the role of space and time in how humans make sense of these states, complements this podcast. Together, we explored questions like: can demands on students be kept stable during these times? How should parents, educators, or other people in positions of responsibility react? As mental health has reached the status of a public health concern, the interconnected and intersectional nature of health, and the role of social interaction in our wellbeing is a topic that deserves in-depth discussion.
The ecological impact and implications of the coronavirus have been a topic of interest for many environmentalists. Global carbon emissions have fallen substantially - giving us an insight into, as some say, what the world would look like without fossil fuels. The unprecedented restrictions on travel, work and industry due to the coronavirus have ensured good air quality in many otherwise choked cities. Wildlife has returned to habitats. Pollution is considerably down across continents, in comparison to the pre-pandemic normality. Is this just a fleeting event, or could it lead to longer-lasting changes? We discuss this today with Prof. Tamara Steger, and Prof. T Jayaraman.
Prof. Tamara Steger researches on environmental and social justice and currently teaches in Budapest, Hungary, at CEU (Central European University). She holds a Bachelor of Science (cum laude) from State University of New York, a Master of Marine Studies from University of Washington, and a Ph.D. (with distinction) from Syracuse University. T Jayaraman is a Senior Fellow of Climate Change at the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation in Chennai in India. He used to work as a Professor at School of Habitat Studies in Tata Inst. of Social Sciences, Mumbai. TJ is trained as a theoretical physicist, and his current interests include climate change and policy, economics of climate change, climate change and agriculture. He also looks at science policy, and the history and philosophy of science.
Joined by two experts on economics, R. Ramakumar, Professor at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, and J. Mohan Rao, Professor Emeritus at University of Massachusetts, we discussed the socioeconomic implications of the lockdown on the regional and global level. COVID-19 is causing severe economic problems around the world. Global food supply chains are affected by lockdown measures and other problems caused by the outbreak. It becomes clear that many of the goods that we take for granted are in fact dependent on many factors that are vulnerable to the impacts of a state of unexpected crisis. Departing from the issue of food security, and with a special focus on India and the US, we talked about the economic-epidemiological dilemmas for policymakers, and their disproportionate global impacts.
If you want to read more, here is an article by R. Ramakumar: http://fas.org.in/blog/when-the-invisible-disappeared-migrant-labour-in-agriculture-in-the-pandemic/
For the second episode, we go more pragmatic and try to answer some questions that hold immense relevance today.The pandemic and the subsequent lockdown have made us all reflect on our dependence on technology. Though the most obvious use is online learning and work from home, the significance of technology is entrenched much deeper in our lives. We are in the anthropocene, but we are also, in a society filtered by media. A discourse on this leads to more underlying questions: what does citizenship of the future mean? What do emancipation and democracy entail in the 2020s? How can civil society organise in times dominated by digital communication technology?
We discuss what democracy, emancipation, activism, and civic engagement entail in light of COVID-19, and go on to a discussion about the public sphere of the future with our two guests: Doug Schuler, a Professor Emeritus at the Evergreen College in USA, who co-founded and runs the Public Sphere Project- which aims to create and support equitable and effective public spheres all over the world; and Siddesh Sarma, an alumnus of education and psychology of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai in India, who co-founded and presently heads the organization Leadership for Equity, that aims to work towards a more inclusive and equitable society by empowering public education systems.
Here is a suggested reading list provided by Doug Schuler, to help gain more insight:
For the first episode of CEA Global Voices, we were joined by two experts on epidemiology: Catalina Gonzalez Uribe, Master in Anthropology as well as MSc in Social Epidemiology, as well as Doctorate in Epidemiology and Public Health from University of Los Andes, Colombia; and Maarten van Wijhe from Roskilde University, Denmark, postdoctoral researcher on epidemiology, who works with the historical and statistical aspects of infectious diseases. Both universities are part of Critical Edge Alliance (CEA), a global collaborative framework for innovative, student-centered, and critical universities around the world which has brought us together to create this podcast.
With the aim to understand the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of its historical context, we explored past, present, and future together: what makes this pandemic different from those in the past? Why and how did this pandemic catch so many completely off guard? What are the present challenges and future implications of COVID-19? Joined by Catalina, an epidemiologist with an interdisciplinary orientation having also studied psychology and anthropology, and Maarten, who contributed historical insights, we crossed boundaries and found a means to connect using our computers and critical minds. Together, we created something larger than the sum of its parts: a shared understanding of what makes our present meaningful and historical.