Live Q&As with experts in their fields

The College of Arts & Sciences aims to bring you credible, accurate and useful information in these times of uncertainty. Tune in every week to hear experts in various fields discuss the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. Find more info about how to join under each event listed below.

Thursday, April 2: Pandemics in an age of Resurgent Nationalism

Pablo Bose, Director of Global and Regional Studies, Geography Department, University of Vermont

Video Transcript

More info

A resurgence of nationalism, a renewed emphasis on borders and increased attacks on immigrants, refuges and asylum seekers is wound into how nations are responding to the pandemic, Pablo Bose, an associate professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Geography and the Director of the Global and Regional Studies program said this week.

“Nationalism has made an explicit comeback,” Bose said, pointing to calls for America first, and Brexit, government changes in India, South Africa and Hungary and the rise of right wing nationalism from the fringes to the center of political discourse in Germany and France, in Scandinavian countries, in Spain and many other places as well.

And tragically, Bose, said, these movements have moved from blaming global elites to “the most vulnerable refugees, asylum seekers, the poor within their own countries…A jingoistic discourse in generally racialized gendered class ways.”

And the solutions that governments have taken from shutting down transit, to forcing people to stay home have had a bigger impact on those populations. And suddenly, borders are starting to re-appear in places like Europe or being enforced and cordoned off in new ways, Bose said, like the US border with Canada, with COVID-19 now used as a rationale. For example, the wall on our Southern border continues to be built rapidly, Bose said.

“Xenophobia has been at the core of a lot of these issues,” Bose said, with a focus on further “disciplining and control over migrant bodies.” But of course the real tragedy will come if the disease surges through these densely packed refugee camps in Jordan, in Syria, in Turkey, in Lebanon, throughout North Africa and elsewhere as well, Bose said. .

Yet, in this time of crisis its multi-national groups that could do the most good, not individual states with a patchwork of solutions, Bose said. “We've got this public health catastrophe. How do we deal with it? We deal with it as a species,” Bose said. Yet, “the response has almost always been to move further and further and further inward…in many ways, this is the kind of logical outcome of this parochial sense of how one responds to an outbreak like this by saying, well, I'm going to take care of my own, I'm only going to take care of us. And blaming others.”

Thursday, April 9: The Stimulus: Who Benefits?

Stephanie Seguino, Professor of Economics, University of Vermont

Video Transcript

More info

Those most likely to be exposed to COVID-19 and the measures taken to protect them and ultimately provide some compensation are not equally distributed, said Stephanie Seguino, a professor of economics at the University of Vermont who studies economic impacts by gender and race.  We sit down with her to talk about the impacts of the public health crisis on the most vulnerable, the stimulus package and what recovery might look like. See a full transcript of her talk here.

Among other things, Seguino discussed the impact by health and race, including the much higher death rates among African-Americans. Part of this due to the variety of capability of health care systems and support that vary by geography and income, Seguino said. As well as the disproportionate number of front line essential worker jobs provided by women, in health care services and food distribution, Seguino said.

When it comes to the stimulus, Seguino is encouraged by how fast it has moved, but decries the failure to address the fundamental challenges for the millions of immigrants, undocumented workers and DACA recipients in the country.  She remains concerned about the lack of adequate health care and the uneven nature of the distribution of stimulus funds. But at the end of the day, Seguino says we must ensure that “people can provide for themselves and their families with dignity and with economic security and with safety during this period of time. And that really needs to be the guiding force of what we do in the coming months.”

Stephanie Seguino is a professor of economics at the University of Vermont in Burlington, Vermont, United States. She was the president of the International Association for Feminist Economics from 2010 to 2011 and has also carried out research for both the United Nations and the World Bank

Thursday April 16: Government power in times of crisis

Lisa Holmes, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Vermont

Video Transcript

More info

In this talk, Professor Holmes looks at emergency powers, executive power, and federalism in the United States in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Professor Holmes specializes in judicial politics, constitutional law, gender and law, and American politics. Her research focuses on various issues surrounding the politics of appointing federal and state court judges.

References & Discussion Questions

Dr. Holmes intends to cover the current debate about opening the economy, the recent election in Wisconsin and what it means for the election in November. Below are two articles and some possible discussion questions.

U.S. Governors, at Center of Virus Response, Weigh What It Will Take to Reopen States (New York Times, 2020)

This article touches on a lot of things that may be influencing governors in deciding how to talk about reopening the economy in their state, such as partisanship, the impact of the coronavirus on that specific state so far, and what region of the country the state is in.  If you were governor, what would your general approach be to reopening the economy?  Would you want to join a regional interstate compact? Go it alone? Let different counties or municipalities in your state make that choice? Would your answer depend on which state you governed?

Trump Is Pushing a False Argument on Vote-by-Mail Fraud. Here Are the Facts. (New York Times, 2020)

How would you predict that voting is going to occur in the 2020 presidential election in November? Are lots of states going to try to institute voting by mail, or wider access to absentee voting, or should we expect to see similar pictures to what we saw in Wisconsin last week, if the coronavirus is still a big concern in November?


Thursday April 23: Religion in a time of COVID-19

Ilyse R. Morgenstein Fuerst, Associate Professor of Religion and Associate Director, Humanities Center

Video Transcript

More info

Prof. Morgenstein Fuerst discusses the ways that many religious organizations and institutions—individual congregations, collectives of religious authorities, and formal, official organizing bodies—adapt (or not) to the challenges COVID-19 is wreaking worldwide. While many find religion to be inflexible & anti-scientific, the reality is that most religious groups adapt rituals and traditions in light of the realities of pandemics.

References and Discussion Questions

Dr. Morgenstein Fuerst will cover religious innovations and religious responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are two pieces that may help frame a discussion.

Survey numbers chart evangelical defiance against the states

This RNS piece charts white evangelical defiance of stay-at-home orders, naming and locating instances of opening churches, holding services of varying kinds, and gesturing toward the use of religious freedom laws to demand that churches stay open. Anti-science, race, and religion have long combined in dangerous ways and this pandemic demonstrates that. How can we make sense of this particular American denomination’s actions, nationally? How would you address the leaders of these communities—or their home states? Do you think public health supercedes religious practice?

Places of worship try to keep the faith during the COVID-19 pandemic 

While some, admittedly loud, white evangelical Christians defy stay-at-home orders and protest quarantine programs, most religious institutions have quickly made changes to traditional practices in order to keep their congregations and communities healthy. This PBS article gives a brief run down of changes being made across the country and across religions. As I’ll talk about in the #ExpertsLive session, many religions are even fundamentally reversing eras-old rules in order to create solutions. Imagine what it must feel like to make big, sweeping changes—at a time when, globally, many religions are celebrating their holiest times (Easter, Passover, Ramadan, and Vaisakhi have all been impacted by the pandemic). What are some of the personal impacts you can imagine of these changes? What are some of the community-wide impacts?


Thursday April 30: Latin America, the Mexico-US Border and COVID-19

Caroline Beer, Professor of Political Science, University of Vermont

Video Transcript (Coming Soon!)

More info

Professor Beer teaches courses in comparative politics, Latin American politics, and global gender equality.  She specializes in Mexican politics. Her research interests include democratization, subnational politics, and gender in politics.

Thursday May 7: Weather, Climate & COVID-19

Vermont Climatologist Lesley-Ann Dupigny-Giroux, Professor, Department of Geography, UVM (Fellow of the American Meteorological Society & President-elect of the American Association of State Climatologists)

Video Transcript (Coming Soon!)

More info

In this talk Dr. Dupigny-Giroux will present some of the emerging data on the implications of COVID-19 on GHG emissions, weather patterns and air pollution.

Dr. Dupigny-Giroux is applied climatologist whose research interests intersect a number of interdisciplinary fields including hydroclimatic natural hazards, climate variability and change as well as the use of remote sensing in the fields of spatial climate and land-surface processes. Dr. Dupigny-Giroux is also the State Climatologist for Vermont and the lead author of the Northeast Chapter of the Fourth National Climate Assessment.


Thursday May 14: Potential Impacts of Stay at Home Policies on Children & Their Families

Betsy Hoza, Bishop Joyce Chair of Human Development Professor of Psychology

Transcript (coming soon!)

More info

In this talk Dr. Hoza discusses the potential impacts of the stay at home school policies on the physical activity and mental health of school children and their families.

Dr. Hoza is a professor of clinical psychology with a focus on understanding the social, academic, and behavioral functioning of both typically developing children and those with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) from a developmental psychopathology perspective.


Questions about this series? Get in touch with Richard Watts or Sophia Trigg, CAS Dean's Office.