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After Coronavirus:

A Global Perspective Short-Essay Collection.

From Stillwater to Singapore and beyond, we have all endured together the most disruptive global event in decades. The COVID-19 pandemic brought a profound sense of desperation as nations rich and poor sought to head off the catastrophic threat to people, economies and health systems. The crisis that seemed unimaginable to many at the start of the year has turned the world upside down. There is still minimal certainty about damages we have already endured, much less those that are yet to come.

 

Faculty and researchers at Oklahoma State University have been engaged in international collaboration since the 1950s, and the expertise of many of these faculty has relevance to the global pandemic. We have asked a number of these global experts at OSU to share their thoughts on how the pandemic will change the world. 


Global Networks will survive, but will be under suspicion.
Dr. Randy Kluver, Associate Provost and Dean
School of Global Studies and Partnerships

Since at least the 1980s, the nations have been organized less along regional or even political lines, but around networks, interactive ties between organizations, institutions and people. The "network society" has created a new infrastructure (technological, political, economic and social) upon which our contemporary society is based. The infrastructure is not perfect, of course, creating and sustaining inequality just as it does trade, prosperity, and concepts such as human rights. These networks are and have been the means by which globalization spread and prospered. These came under attack in the 1960s as the most visible symbol of globalization, with the IMF, the World Bank, Starbucks and other institutions and organizations portrayed as symbols of new forms of economic and political colonization and control.

 

Now, however, these networks (as well as the people and institutions that maintain them), are under much more sever scrutiny. Even before the pandemic, the trade and economic ties were being strained by trade tensions and rising tides and nationalism. The recent controversy over the World Health Organization's role in allowing the virus to spread, the thousands of conspiracy theories purporting the supposedly nefarious origins of the coronavirus and the almost instantaneous dismantling of global travel infrastructures all demonstrate the fragility of these institutional and logistical networks to a virus that none of us had heard of as recently as four months ago.

 

 

In spite of the suspicion of the network society, the infrastructure is there and is not going away. The networks have become much too important to us to dismantle. Just as we cannot realistically entertain the idea of dismantling the internet, there is little value to dismantling the networks that have created the society in which we live.

 

 

What is likely to happen is that we will attempt to rearticulate those networks. While in the past we designed networks for efficiency, nations are likely to attempt to re-design them to obtain political and economic advantage. China's Belt and Road initiative is a perfect example of a supposed trade network that is really built to confer political advantage. The networks won't go away, but they will be held to different standards. 


Global Health is a National Security Concern.
Brian D. Sandersfield, Director Joint Programs Management Office 
Center for Health Sciences Office of Global Health

Global Health is a National Security concern. National Security includes the protection from emerging infectious diseases and a nation's economic vitality. Public health infrastructure set on prevention and preparedness is critical to a nation's economic and community health. Given the pandemic economic hardships felt across the globe, those countries with already underfunded health programs will be substantially impacted causing further deficiencies in their healthcare system. Future support of volunteer Global Health programs will be increasingly critical to support those nations with a lack of health infrastructure, expertise and funding support in order to prevent and mitigate further pandemics and to attempt to mitigate health infrastructure overloading as a crisis develops. To ensure a stronger health system, it is essential to continue to support Global Health programs and draw attention to the need of nations across the globe.

 

A strong public health program supports a strong national security stature. Global Health programs mitigate vulnerabilities is such a way as the global community must emphasize prevention and preparedness and the use of volunteer global health programs to ensure protective strategies in fragile states so that their healthcare, economic and national security do not deteriorate to the point of no return, as affected by global outbreaks. Leadership from Global Health programs play a critical role in supporting healthy and secure societies abroad.

 


The Necessities of Media Literacy and Online Communities Post Covid-19.
 Dr. Skye Cooley, Assistant Professor Mass Communication
School of Media and Strategic Communications

The pandemic has demonstrated the power of technology to keep the world interconnected without having to physically leave our homes, but it has also exposed how frighteningly weak our online public spaces are across local, state, national, and global levels. The move to online spaces and interactions seems and easier transition for business than democracy; particularly because our online community spaces are designed to sell user data rather than inform, promote dialogue, or facilitate responsible governance.

 

These online spaces were already vulnerable to misinformation and disinformation long before films like Plandemic were circulating across your newsfeed. Covid-19 has simply accentuated tensions between public health and industry to better illustrate how wildly uninformed we all are on how to manage our national system when crises strike. While our system inequalities and political divides have been more fully unmasked, our abilities to meaningfully engage solutions and re-imagine potentials have been stifled by our own inadequacies in processing information and the lack of meaningful online community spaces with which we can engage others.

 

We have long taken for granted our information capabilities, abusing them to their lowest intellectual and financial denominators as mechanisms of entertainment and self-validation.

The crisis demonstrates the importance of our online public spaces, media literacy, and shows that vacuums of factual information allow disinformation and conspiracy theories to run rampant. Lacking the ability to have discussions around commonly understood facts allows partisan and economic divides to be more readily exploited by politicians and outside powers. As we stumble out of covid-19 lockdowns, the federal political system of the United States looks decidedly more fragile.


Escalating tensions between globalism, nationalism and nativism will impact higher education.
Dr. Steve Wanger, Assistant Professor Higher Education
College of Education, Health and Aviation

The trend in recent decades toward globalization is prompting many people and organizations worldwide to look for ways to respond. Although a wide variety of responses are evidenced, two are gaining significant traction: nationalism and nativism.  The former is attested in the Make America Great Again campaign in the United States, the rise of Russian and Chinese exceptionalism, Brexit, xenophobic attacks in South Africa and nationalist movements in France, Germany, Turkey and other countries on every continent, among others.  The latter is seen in the recent demonstrations in Hong Kong, re-emergent strains of Nazism in Europe and North America, the resilience of both Al Qaida and ISIS, and a host of other political, cultural, economic, and educational movements. Whether national or nativist in persuasion though, each of these human efforts represents a response to the perception that identity is endangered or lost in an increasingly global world.

 

Because the COVID-19 virus may be seen as an ultimate threat to identity, politicians and opinion leaders across the globe already utilize the pandemic to promote agendas that embrace widely divergent and competing worldviews. For some, the pandemic highlights the need for a coordinated global response. For others, such a response imperils national or nativist identities. Throughout the pandemic and beyond we will wrestle with the appropriate sphere for addressing economic, cultural, and educational issues. The tensions will continue to escalate between the ideals of globalism, nationalism, and nativism.

 

This portends significant impacts on higher education. Beyond the current plummeting number of students able to participate in study abroad, and the restrictions on international travel for university employees, numerous questions arise. These include, but are not limited to: (1) how will families respond to study abroad opportunities for their students when international travel resumes, (2) will government funding be maintained (and, if so, at what level) for university research conducted by transnational teams, (3) will faculty be willing to travel to areas where the perceived or the real threat of the virus is high, (4) how will collaborative academic programs (such as 3+1, 2+2, dual degrees, etc.) be impacted, (5) will universities sustain their efforts to internationalize curricula and the university experience, and (6) will the global and intercultural competencies of students (both undergraduate and graduate) decline? The answers to these questions will shape the future of higher education, its students, and our world for generations to come.

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