New Fall 2020 Anthropology course! Anthrcul 357-002 (37542) Covid-19 Futures. NEW TIME MW 5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
This new course by Professor Stuart Kirsch will consider the long-term impacts of Covid-19. The first third of the semester, we’ll read accounts of how past disasters (natural, industrial, or hybrid) resulted in structural change. We’ll spend the remainder of the semester examining arguments and discussions about how Covid-19 may alter the future. For example, the disruption to globalization may lead to shorter supply chains and changing patterns of local production. The origins of the pandemic may affect human-animal relationships, especially the consumption of wild animals. The long period of sheltering at home has already accelerated internet-mediated work, life, and educational practices, and we will consider the extent to which these changes will persist after Covid-19. The disproportionate impacts of the virus on different segments of society have prompted reevaluation of the fundamental social contract (including access to health care, living wages, and basic income support) holding society together, as well as racial inequality and injustice. The reduction in mobility and patterns of consumption may hasten the transition to renewable energy as well as efforts to phase out coal and petroleum use; we will consider the implications of this and other changes for climate change politics and policies. The reduction in travel and migration may lead to increased isolation and nationalism. Many other things may change as well, including the potential movement of populations away from megacities, as well as devising alternative ways to move within and make uses of spaces within cities. We will map out these different trends by using information from academic sources, the media, and other contributors to the public debates, including political voices on both the right and the left. To sharpen our understandings, students will also conduct (socially-distanced) interviews of various experts, authorities, and laypersons, including their peers. We will assess the likelihood of these developments, and evaluate their negative and positive ramifications and synergies. The students will be expected to do extensive research on their own, to summarize and present their findings on a regular and ongoing basis, and to work together as a team to produce a final report representing the findings of the class as a whole. We will develop both a database of information and an overarching narrative interpreting the data. Your final assessment for the course will be based predominately on your contributions to this collective work project rather than individual papers.