A&S scholars sharing their COVID-19 expertise in the media this week

April 9, 2020 by Jovana Jankovic - A&S News

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect our community and the world, scholars from a range of disciplines across the Faculty of Arts & Science are sharing their expertise on pressing issues in the media — from religious celebrations during social distancing to the appeal of dystopian fiction in a time of global pandemic.

Here’s some of what A&S scholars had to say this past week.

April 9, 2020

  • Peter Loewen, professor at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy and the Department of Political Science, co-writes an opinion piece for CBC News about how the pandemic has shown cross-partisan unity and political collaboration in Canada. “By having a common view of COVID-19 and a shared purpose in fighting it, we can overcome the narcissism of small partisan differences,” writes Loewen and his co-contributors.

April 8, 2020

April 6, 2020

  • Enid Slack and Tomas Hachard, both of the Institute of Municipal Finance & Governance at the Munk School, write an op-ed in the Toronto Star (paywall) about the relationship between local and broader levels of government — and how we can reconsider provincial funding of municipalities during the pandemic. 
  • Comparisons to a wartime economy during the current pandemic have been frequent. Drew Fagan, professor at the Munk School, comments on this comparison in a Globe and Mail article that examines increased debt and government spending now and during WWII.   

April 5, 2020

  • Professor Miriam Diamond of the Department of Earth Sciences is quoted in a Toronto Star (paywall) article about how the economic slowdown has resulted in improved air quality, presenting us with a unique opportunity to reset our environmental priorities.
  • Michelle Cho, assistant professor in the Department of East Asian Studies, is quoted in a CBC News article about the arrival of the Korean trend of “study broadcast videos” to Toronto. The videos show students studying in silence for several hours, recreating the communal feeling of a library or other study space. Cho says the videos create a sense of connection, solidarity and accountability, “even if you are sitting in your room by yourself.”
  • Anna Shternshis speaks to CBC Radio’s Fresh Air about how Jewish communities are celebrating Passover in the time of social distancing. “Sitting together for a meal accompanied by storytelling” is normally a crucial aspect of the celebrations, says Shternshis. “It’s going to be so different in so many ways.”

April 4, 2020

  • Professor Mark Kingwell of the Department of Philosophy writes an op-ed in The Globe and Mail on the increasing encroachment of boredom, restlessness and apathy during COVID-19. The good news? Many philosophers “believed that boredom was eventually edifying,” writes Kingwell, offering us the opportunity to learn about existence, meaning, consciousness, action — and ourselves.

April 3, 2020

  • Associate Professor Lynette Ong of the Munk School and the Department of Political Science is interviewed on CBC Radio’s The Current about whether COVID-19 numbers from China can be trusted. “The way in which the Chinese government has been measuring the statistics has changed more than once in the last couple of months,” says Ong, an expert in the political economy of China. Skip to the 43:15 mark to hear Ong’s comments, or read a transcript of the interview.
  • John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at The Citizen Lab in the Munk School, offers tips on CBC Radio’s The Spark on protecting your online security and privacy during a time when we are more reliant than ever on digital technologies. Scott-Railton warns that our data is now “much less secure, harder to defend and easier to snoop on.”
  • Tina Park, executive director of the Canadian Centre for the Responsibility to Protect —based at the Munk School — discusses the challenges of tracing COVID-19 patients in a Global News story. An expert in the relationship between Korea and Canada, Park explains the differences between Korea’s tracing of virus patients and Canada’s.
  • Bill Marczak, a senior research fellow at The Citizen Lab speaks to CBC’s The National about a new report he co-authored that analyzes security issues with the popular videoconferencing app Zoom. Marczak says “if there's a need to discuss confidential or sensitive data,” Zoom is not the best choice. The report has been discussed widely, including by Radio-Canada, CTV News, the Wall Street Journal and even in Australian media.