International Webinar on Long-Term Social Impacts of the Covid-19 Pandemic

International Webinar on Long-Term Social Impacts of the Covid-19 Pandemic, 22-24 February 2022 [Abstracts due 22 Dec 2021].

This webinar will be conducted by the National Academy of Sciences of Sri Lanka (NASSL) under the auspices of the Association of Academies and Societies of Science in Asia (AASSA) and the Inter Academy Partnership (IAP).

Background

Over the past two years, the Covid-19 pandemic not only resulted in thousands of deaths, debilitations, and economic and other losses across the world, but also left a deep and indelible mark on the human psyche and society.

A Pew Research Centre survey conducted in 2020 indicated that 44% of people (in the US) felt that it has altered their lives and lifestyle in a significant way. The impact of the pandemic may affect people’s hearts and minds and their very existence for many decades, in a very different postCovid world.

In this context, we hope, through this webinar, to generate contributions and discussions that are evidence based and, at the same time, focus on long term social impacts (beyond the immediate recovery phase).

Post-webinar dissemination will be via conference proceedings and U-tube videos. It is also hoped that a policy statement can be generated about how to address long-term impacts as an outcome of this webinar, based on the consensus reached thereat.

Conference Themes

The following themes will be covered under the overall focus on Long-term Social Impacts of the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Science and Health: Although scientists have worked on global impacts such as climate change, they have not faced such immediacy as presented by the Covid pandemic. Will scientists become readier to share data and knowledge with colleagues; learn to take decisions under incomplete information; find ways to implement findings quickly; and acknowledge their dependence on others? How will they tackle the growing skepticism about science?

Education: Education was one of the worst affected social sectors during the pandemic. In many cases physical delivery was replaced by online modes, but generated debate about the very nature of education. Socio-economic inequalities were exacerbated by online modes, which however demonstrated great potential too. Will the nature of education change permanently after Covid? Will educational institutions diversify their educational programs using lessons learnt during the pandemic?

Economics: Although the economy itself may recover post-Covid, will actors be forced to develop agility in the future in the face of uncertainties arising from pandemic? There could also be concerns regarding self-sufficiency in the face of transport restrictions. Will free trade be affected? What will be the long-term impact on vital sectors such as tourism and travel, internal and international migration of workers, and cross-border mobility of capital?

Politics and Governance: Strong and centrally-imposed measures of Covid control are seen by some as eroding democratic space. The relative emphasis to be paid on sustaining the economy as against safeguarding public health system through shutdowns and controls has also been hotly debated . Decisions have not always been made to protect the most vulnerable (and numerically largest) sectors of society. Are modern tools of decision making with inputs from the social sciences capable of defining such goals more objectively?

Religion and Spirituality: Religion has contributed towards psychosocial relief and social cohesion in the face of the pandemic; but controversies have been generated regarding issues such as religious freedom and relations between state and religious institutions during the pandemic. Covid-19 has also demonstrated the impermanence of life, and the limitations of an acquisitive society. In a Post-Covid world, will religions change their roles and practices, and/or even re-interpret their core beliefs? Contested relationships between science and religion have also been resurfaced in the wake of the pandemic.

Culture and Human Behaviour: Community dynamics and several cultural practices have also been challenged. Cultural practices such as hugging, kissing and even shaking hands have become scarce, even within families. Class distinctions and gender disparities have probably become sharper; and acceptance of strangers, visitors and ‘the other’ diminished. Social distancing imposed as a public health measure has sometimes been used to justify social hierarchies and cultural distancing between the dominant and the social underdogs. Will such changes come to stay; or will society find ways to counter them?

ABSTRACTS should contain (i) Relevant Conference Theme; (ii) Title of Paper; (iii) Author name(s) and affiliation(s) and email(s); (iv) Body of abstract with purpose/context/significance (≈50-75 words); objectives/methodology/approach (≈75-100 words); results/key findings/conclusions/recommendations (≈75-100 words).

Keynote Speakers

1. Prof. Dominic Abrams, FBA (University of Kent and the British Academy): The Covid decade

2. Prof. Malik Peiris, FRS (University of Hong Kong and NASSL): Global public health

3. Prof. Dame Anne Mills, FRS (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the UK Academy of Medical Sciences): Adaptable, responsive and equitable health systems

4. Prof. Virendra Malhotra (Indian Council of Social Science Research): Social protection

5. Dr. Jim Ackers (UNICEF): Learning transformation for all post-COVID

Call for Papers

The National Academy of Sciences of Sri Lanka (NASSL) invites scholars, researchers and practitioners to submit papers for the above conference. Papers will be selected on the basis of the quality and relevance of the abstracts submitted by 22 December 2021 (new extended deadline) to the Conference Secretariat [[email protected]].

An abstract should be about 250 words and submitted as a Word file (Times New Roman; Font size 12), indicating author affiliations. We request respondents to submit a brief resume along with the abstract, documenting their expertise relating to the topic of the proposed paper. Authors who are selected for presenting papers will be informed by 31 December 2021.

Full papers of around 2500 words (excluding the abstract) should be submitted to the Conference Secretariat by 31 January 2022. Papers will be grouped under the following themes (see overleaf). Authors should specify the theme at the time of submitting abstracts.