Laurier profs use essay collection to look at societal, government response to COVID-19

Two Wilfrid Laurier University professors are using a collection of essays written in the early weeks of COVID-19 to "cast a critical eye" on this moment in time.

Professors assessed collection of 10 essays by Canadian scholars

Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo have announced to deliver most courses and programs online this upcoming fall term. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Two Wilfrid Laurier University professors are using a collection of essays written in the early weeks of COVID-19 to "cast a critical eye" on this moment in time. 

Writing in the Midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic: From Vulnerability to Solidarity was put together by Greg Bird, an associate professor of sociology, and Penelope Ironstone, a professor in Laurier's department of communication studies.

The essays were written by other Canadian scholars and are being called a "rapid response collection" because its authors wrote, edited and published the volume of 10 essays in less than two weeks. 

Bird and Ironstone said they saw a need to provide different perspectives on how COVID-19 has unfolded in Canada. The essays highlight overall uncertainty, societal change and a sense of community.

"I think one of the big takeaways [of the project] is the need to be able to assess the way we govern life and death in our everyday moment and to see how starkly our current moment really reveals to us some of the challenges and some of the vulnerabilities," said Ironstone.

The collection encourages readers to think about people included and excluded in the conversation when big decisions are being made, and in a way, be able to take a long-view of the impacts, as the pandemic unfolds around them. 

"What is happening now is going to deeply affect us in the near future when this pandemic passes," Bird said.

Opportunity for change

Their work assessing the collection of essays also reveals future opportunities for societal change as a result of the pandemic, said Ironstone, such as the sense of community people are are experiencing right now or how people are starting to look at different jobs and industries differently. 

"There are so many positive and affirmative actions happening around the world," Bird said. "There's a beautiful sense of solidarity that is happening right now."


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