What universities can learn about citizenship in the COVID-19 pandemic

universities covid

(Vadim Sherbakov, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Samuel Martin-Barbero, Presidential Distinguished Fellow, University of Miami


  • Mere job-related skills will mean very little from now on if they are not rooted in applicable social beliefs and personal strengths.
  • The current “university campuses lockout” will probably alter students’ expectations and choices of study and work.
  • Physicians, nurses and all key workers are displaying unimaginable levels of courage, solidarity, generosity, camaraderie, tenacity and resilience,

Higher education around the world has been shaken to its core by the coronavirus pandemic. But this pandemic, and our responses to it, have much to teach us. Educational leaders, scholars and policy makers should not only take advantage of this unprecedented moment in university history to fund, invest and get trained in the friendly use of instructional delivery platforms, applications and assessment tools. In addition, we must focus on the lessons to be extracted from the citizenship on display by many individuals and volunteers, in cities such as New York, Madrid or London. Hopefully, COVID-19 will provide higher education with a golden opportunity for a deeper dive into social purpose, meaning and commitment with the outside world.

 

So many physicians, nurses, psychologists, military, police officers, fire brigades and cashiers, among others, are acting as beacons of insight, inspiring admiration and profound life lessons in the rest of us.

These committed individuals have become the frontline of a battle, the end of which is still uncertain; when they stayed in person in those emergency rooms, street tents, nursing homes and improvised morgues. It is no exaggeration to state that, in these times of (apparent) peace in the Western hemisphere, those who save the lives of others while risking their own lives really do become the “saviours of humankind”, to paraphrase the Talmud. They are displaying unimaginable levels of courage, solidarity, generosity, camaraderie, tenacity and even resilience, an attribute hailed by the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, when launching his country’s national recovery operation.

The last few weeks have seen an increase in publications covering ways in which the higher education system is financially facing the forceful reality of having to temporarily transfer teaching to the virtual sphere due to COVID-19.

US higher education institutions could face budget shortfalls as income falls and students switch schools.
Universities have been shaken by the pandemic.

As for, the millions of young adults enrolled as university students in the US, UK, Spain, France and Italy, they are not just becoming “online students”; they are suffering a jarring shock in the form of an extra-curricular traumatic experience. Some socio-economic implications on how this situation is affecting vulnerable segments of the university population were recently described by the New York Times and The Atlantic.

It is not only students but also university professors from all kind of institutions, understandably stressed about this pandemic, who are confined at home right now. And the latter are often juggling caring for relatives and homeschooling with their regular profession. Teaching, researching and administrating is difficult to balance in normal conditions, but now much more so.

In recent times, universities across the globe are increasingly focused on transferable knowledge, high quality teaching, and equipping students with the cognitive skills and rational thinking needed to guarantee employability. Wanting to catch up with the times, many institutions have started adding extracurricular activities to provide graduate students with a “survival kit” of sorts, in order to stay in tune with market demands.

Mere job-related skills will mean very little from now on if they are not rooted in applicable social beliefs and strengths, which can make a difference in turbulent times such as this one. Universities would be better disposed to anticipate the future by listening carefully to the current citizenship’s “living masterclasses”.

The current “university campuses lockout” will probably alter students’ expectations and choices of academic programmes, career paths and even geographical locations of study and work. In a country such as Spain, with the fourth largest number of COVID-19 deaths in the world so far (over 25,000) this may well be the case already.

In the last month the increase of interest in short, non-credit, online courses, certificates and associate degrees has grown exponentially, according to Google Trends data. The chosen areas by users in this search engine are Health, Education, Social Services and Environmental Studies. It would be interesting to analyze whether these temporary choices and sensitivities will prevail and spread internationally, after the lockdown comes to an end.

What is the World Economic Forum doing about the coronavirus outbreak?

A new strain of Coronavirus, COVID 19, is spreading around the world, causing deaths and major disruption to the global economy.

Responding to this crisis requires global cooperation among governments, international organizations and the business community, which is at the centre of the World Economic Forum’s mission as the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.

The Forum has created the COVID Action Platform, a global platform to convene the business community for collective action, protect people’s livelihoods and facilitate business continuity, and mobilize support for the COVID-19 response. The platform is created with the support of the World Health Organization and is open to all businesses and industry groups, as well as other stakeholders, aiming to integrate and inform joint action.

As an organization, the Forum has a track record of supporting efforts to contain epidemics. In 2017, at our Annual Meeting, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched – bringing together experts from government, business, health, academia and civil society to accelerate the development of vaccines. CEPI is currently supporting the race to develop a vaccine against this strand of the coronavirus.

In the meantime, those of us luckily working remotely must try to remain positive, constructive and motivated, remembering once in a while the lyrics of a former Spanish pop hit, Resistiré by Dúo Dinámico. In fact, many Madrilenians sang this song from their balconies every evening at 8pm, while applauding those in the urban battlefield. It is the anthem of “civic hope” after almost two months of strict confinement, as well as a hymn of gratitude to those applying citizenship on a daily basis. “And while the winds of life may rage, like a bending reed I will stay on my feet. I will survive… And even if all my dreams are shattered, I will survive.”

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Glaringly false reassurances about the repercussions of the EU-US free trade agreement

Here’s how to close the $176 billion health financing gap

Parliament wants to suspend EU accession negotiations with Turkey

German synagogue shooting ‘another tragic demonstration of anti-Semitism’: UN chief

UN conference agrees better ways for Global South countries to work together on sustainable development

‘Signs of hope’ toward a political settlement in Yemen, UN special envoy tells Security Council

Do you dare to go to China?

World Refugee Day, 20 June 2020: Joint Statement by the European Commission and the High Representative

Gender inequality in the medicine field: two commonly issues

UN chief pays tribute to Egypt’s role in avoiding ‘dramatic’ escalation in conflict across the Gaza-Israel border

A new era of computing is coming. How can we make sure it is sustainable?

Boris as UK Premier to be cornered if attempting a no-deal Brexit

UN report sheds light on ‘unimaginable horrors’ faced by migrants and refugees in Libya, and beyond

CLIMATE CHANGE FOCUS: Tunisia coastline in need of climate cash boost

Women’s empowerment ‘essential to global progress’ says Guterres, marking International Day

‘Humiliation was the worst’; Holocaust survivor at UN, asks world to act with ‘empathy and compassion’

Brazilian public health system and universality: a forgotten right!

Normal reactions to the abnormality of the pandemic

‘Critical test’ for North Korea’s Government as civilian suffering remains rife, warns UN rights expert

COVID-19 is more deadly for some ethnic groups

European Commission authorises second safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19

Listen to the future – how 26 youth-led organizations are supercharging the UN’s Global Goals

Telecommunications and Internet: A Jungle with no principles?

Eurozone’s north-south growth gap to become structural

Delivering masks across borders: EU Single Market protecting citizens’ health

We need to deep clean the oceans. Here’s how to pay for it

Three ways the world must tackle mental health

Car-free day – and the other 364 days of the year

EU-UK future relations: “level playing field” crucial to ensure fair competition

Humanitarian aid: EU announces additional €35 million for Africa’s Sahel region

Coronavirus response: How the Capital Markets Union can support Europe’s recovery

This is how good governance can make sure technology works for everyone

Von der Leyen in Ireland: Our mutual solidarity is here to stay

Science leads the response to COVID-19. These 25 scientists are tackling the other global challenges

How privacy tech is redefining the data economy

Understanding our own garden that we call mind

Impressions of China

Scaling for success: SMEs, tech innovations and the ITU Telecom World Awards 2019, in association with The European Sting

Everything you need to know about water

Croatian Presidency priorities discussed in the European Parliament

Brexit: European Commission intensifies preparedness work and outlines contingency action plan in the event of a no deal scenario with the UK

DR Congo Ebola outbreak now a Public Health Emergency, UN health agency declares

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: Cameron corroborates that Britain should remain in the EU

IMF: How To Deal With Failed Banks

A question of trust: the UN political chief working behind the scenes to prevent tomorrow’s wars

Security Council imposes arms embargo on South Sudan

Google and Apple suddenly realise that doing business in EU is tough?

5 inventions that could transform the health of our ocean

Smart devices must come with trust already installed

Mixed news about the Eurozone economy

How to rebuild trust and integrity in South Africa

Four in five adolescents failing to exercise for even 60 minutes a day, UN health agency warns

Girls still being treated as aliens in medicine in the 21st century

2nd Global Consultation on Migrant Health 21-23 February 2017 in Sri Lanka

Attempt to defy international law over Golan Heights sovereignty ‘doomed to failure’ Security Council hears

UN should be ‘exemplary’ in defending judicial independence, top Judge tells Security Council

Neither side stands to benefit in US-China trade spat, UN says

Security Council urges countries to factor child protection into conflict prevention efforts

As tech disrupts our jobs, it’s not too late to turn pain into gain

Antitrust: Commission consults stakeholders on guidance for national courts when handling disclosure information

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s