Over the last few weeks, the newest Forum at COMPAS — entitled Coronavirus and Mobility — has continued to attract a diverse array of global perspectives on the rapidly changing scenarios surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. The effort now is to expand the reach of the Forum to ensure that the ideas and contributions are being read and discussed by a wider audience across academia, and far beyond.
That is why the Forum is partnering with The Paper, one of the most influential portals of news and social commentary in China, which attracted over 10 million daily active visits in 2019. The outlet will run a parallel column, publishing several posts from the Forum translated into Chinese under their Thought Market. The first such post is “Point-to-point” by Prof. Biao Xiang, who launched the Forum.
In his opening remarks, Xiang recounted how the COMPAS Forum first began with two roundtable discussions in Oxford at the end of the February and early March, as COVID-19 was slowly — and then, all of a sudden, quickly — shifting from a China-based problem into a global issue.
“The rapid developments force us to constantly revise our understandings, which is at once stimulating, confusing, overwhelming and often emotionally disturbing,” said Xiang. “I learned through running this Forum that delving into details of the challenges provides mental stability. We observe, we think and we discuss, not only to find solutions, but more importantly to learn how to live with the problems. Perhaps this is what science, especially social science, is for.”
In addition to the new partnership with The Paper, the Forum is launching a webinar companion, organized by Maurice Kirschbaum, Tamoi Fujii, and Lur Alghurabi, MSc students from the Department of Anthropology and the Oxford Department of International Development (ODID).
The first installment was a live-broadcasted conversation on mobility and livelihood during and after COVID-19 by Xiang and John Surico, a journalist and urban planning researcher who wrote on the Forum in April about the different roles transportation has played in the pandemic so far. The installment on May 12 heard from Piero Vereni, a professor of cultural anthropology, and Kushal Sohal, an MSc student in South Asian studies, on what education means during a pandemic. Further installments are planned for the weeks ahead.