The question: Can Scientists’ Social Engagement Help Stem the COVID-19 Pandemic and Other Crises? was explored during the most recent discussion in the ‘Governance in Times of Crises’ webinar series co-organized by the Program on Governance, Resilience and Sustainability (PROGRESS) at the College of Public Policy (CPP).
Dr. Leslie A. Pal, founding dean of CPP, set the context in his opening remarks. Dr. Andreas Rechkemmer, professor, and founding director of PROGRESS, moderated the exchanges between Dr. Marc Owen Jones, assistant professor in Middle East Studies and Digital Humanities at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, HBKU; Dr. Deborah Brosnan, adjunct professor, Biological Sciences; and Dr. James Bohland, professor, School of Public and International Affairs, from Virginia Tech. The speakers concurred that scientists play a key role in rebuilding trust in the common good during a time of unprecedented crises. Governments are having to effectively manage complex risks - pandemics, global warming, severe weather events, and the loss of critical ecosystem services - and ensure community resilience despite economic contraction, political instability, rising authoritarianism, and eroding trust made worse by the exponential spread of false ideologies and conspiracy theories. To this end, there is a need for scientists to understand their role as engaged citizens dedicated to the social contract.
The “Governance in Times of Crises: A New Social Contract for the 21st Century” webinar series is jointly sponsored and organized by PROGRESS at CPP; the Institute for Society, Culture and Environment (ISCE), Virginia Tech, USA; and Deborah Brosnan & Associates, USA.