“The role of humanities is to bring empathy and perspective,” said Dr. Srivi “Srivi” Ramasubramanian.
That quote was the main takeaway from the successful webinar, “The Role of Humanities in a Time of Pandemic,” which was held by Texas A&M University’s Global Health Humanities over Zoom on April 21 from 4 to 5 p.m. (CST).
In times of great crises such as the pandemic we are living in, humanity needs collaborative, cross-disciplinary responses to surmount the impossible challenges we face every day. Of course, the current COVID-19 pandemic necessitates the front-line work of medical professionals, engineers, and biologists. Still, the work of scholars in the humanities is often underestimated in times like this, but this webinar aimed to showcase how the research of various liberal arts experts contribute essential labor during the coronavirus.
Free and open to the public, the evening webinar offered four lectures from leaders of grant-supported projects in the humanities and humanistic social sciences and a Q&A session. The lectures allowed the researchers to explain how their projects uniquely explore a wide array of experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Co-sponsored by the Gates Foundation’s Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH), “The Role of Humanities in a Time of Pandemic” featured Dr. Srivi. Dr. Srivi’s topic was “The ‘Quarantined Across Borders’ Project: Immigrant Voices, Shared Sense-Making, and Collective Healing in a Pandemic.”
Dr. Srivi presented her project, featuring Diasporic Digital Diaries about the COVID-19 pandemic called Quarantined Across Borders (QAB), which is Media Rise’s project. Media Rise is a nonprofit organization that promotes meaningful media and mindful media consumption. Dr. Srivi is Media Rise’s executive director.
Other than Dr. Srivi, three other scholars from around the globe presented during the webinar. Dr. Srivi was up first, followed by an English professor at Texas A&M Jessica Howell, who spoke on "The Stories of Epidemics: Oral Histories and Ebola.” Then, a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the Université de Sherbrooke, Charles-Antoine Barbeau, told listeners about "Holding a Mirror up to Society: Empathy and Social Resilience in Pandemic Times.” Lastly, a professor at Vanderbilt University’s Medical Center, Quentin Eichbaum, talked about "Conceptualizing Health Humanities Programs in Low Resource Settings (in Africa).”
Humanities scholars contributed big-picture research that deepened questions about public health to the current pandemic. The four scholars’ research continues to provide critical sociological and psychological context to the moment we are in. Dr. Srivi’s QAB is a prime example of this idea. Dr. Srivi explained the heart behind QAB and related her lived experiences to her work.
“As an immigrant, as a media scholar, as a communication scholar, as an artist and as a storyteller myself, I wanted to create the space for others to showcase the physical, psychological, economic and social impacts of COVID-19,” said Dr. Srivi.
- Written by student journalist, Riley Farrell
To watch the recording of the full webinar, click the video below.