Aerial Norwich Campus View in early spring

SPECIAL EDITION: Thinking about COVID-19? So is Norwich faculty.

Everyone is adapting to new realities as we learn to work remotely, educate students and serve people in need and this transition has stimulated intellectual curiosities. Norwich releases a series of interdisciplinary essays featuring faculty members’ perspectives on the coronavirus to help us all think through the consequences our nation is facing.

Mathematical constructs can help make predictions about coronavirus’ spread, but not without pitfalls

Our thirst for daily information on the coronavirus pandemic finds us exploring the mountains of articles pushed by our newsfeeds. Inevitably, stories that profess the projected number of expected COVID-19 cases and death toll in your local community, the U.S., and globally, are everywhere.

Seeing current contagion mitigation approach might give ancestors déjà vu, history professor says

The people of Norwich slowly filed in to White Chapel and took seats in the pews, keeping a careful and somewhat suspicious distance from one another. They had difficult decisions to make regarding the pestilence that was spreading rapidly through other towns and may have already arrived in Norwich.

With coronavirus patients surge possibly looming, health care professionals respond to greatest challenge of their careers

My mother sent me a photo of herself today in her work uniform goggles, gloves, N95 face mask, disposable gown and a surgical scrub cap. Working in her mid-60s for this Veterans Hospital Clinic was her dream retirement job as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) however, this was not what she anticipated a retirement job would be after leaving the American Red Cross with over 30 years of service. Continuing the job she loves, she wants to care for veterans in this outpatient clinic and continue the family tradition of serving during times of conflict. While my family has served in various capacities since World War I, providing medical care is the path my mother chose.

Coronavirus crisis has disrupted life’s cadences, leaving life habits and perspectives askew, professor argues

During this pandemic’s lockdown, my “where” and “when” have changed meaning. My “how” and “why” are shifted out of position too. And now I’m asking myself: “Who even am I?”

I’m like the figure on the right in Diagram A. And I’m so out of joint I don’t even know what kept me in balance before. I need to find the line that held it all together like the left figure. What is my life’s Archimedean line? And why didn’t I know what it was before all of this happened?

Sports rivalry-style animosity manifests in election year politics, reaction to coronavirus pandemic response

Sports fanaticism

David Ortiz was a Yankee killer. The Boston Red Sox slugger’s batting statistics against the New York Yankees (.307 batting average, 171 runs batted in over 884 lifetime at-bats) were nothing short of crushing to me as one of the proud and few Yankees fans surrounded by the denizens of Red Sox Nation in Vermont. I grew up on Long Island, New York, and learned very early that my love for the Yankees was also defined by my hatred of the Red Sox. I found pleasure in the Sox’s pain — Bill Buckner’s game-blowing crucial error against the Mets in the 1986 World Series is one of my favorite baseball memories, even in the face of countless Yankees team and player achievements. I am, after all, a fanatic about baseball and the Yanks-Sox rivalry in particular.

Coronavirus pandemic-triggered dash to online learning puts teachers’ skill, empathy into sharp relief, professor says

For the past several weeks, the field of education has been flipped on its head as state agencies and postsecondary institutions have mandated that students stay home. We knew it was coming. Anyone who works in the field of education knows that schools are a petri dish for the spread of sickness.

Finding COVID-19-fighting medicine will require collaboration, collectivism and proper trials, chemistry lecturer says

Unlike the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, which most chemists find annoying or frustrating, the COVID-19 pandemic uncertainty is very scary. The scientific community understands how virulent our foe is; yet, the indistinct facet is that we cannot pinpoint the virus’s exact location, or spreading velocity, with certainty at all times. Like electrons in atoms, viruses are extremely small compared with the hosts they invade. Individuals not on the front lines of this fight may be inconvenienced by current recommended restrictions, but recognize that essential personnel are working exhaustively to combat this contagion.

Skilled actors working onstage render ‘liveness’ even through digital channels, across miles, professor says

In the United States and large parts of the world, theatre has disappeared. Here at Norwich, theatre projects in the works for more than a year were shut down before finishing rehearsals. It was dispiriting and even disorienting to see our work evaporate, but, rather than dwell on what is lost, we should also consider what remains of theatre.

Fight against COVID-19, unlike a war, transcends politics, religion, race and ideology, professor argues

Military historians have a tendency to see everything through the lens of war. The public does too: The War on Poverty. The War on Drugs. The War on Terror.

But I would say this of our present struggle with COVID-19: It’s not a war. A fight, yes. One of the biggest fights ever. But not a war.

Social isolation-sparked rush online creates perfect environment for infodemic, professor argues

There are two infectious pandemics at work around the globe. One is a biological virus and the other is disinformation that sows fear, distrust, falsehoods, and errors. They are similar in many ways. Both are spread through human interaction and both are having a tremendous impact on health, the economy, and security. One is understood to be “viral” in the literal sense, where the other has information that can be classified as spreading disinformation, misinformation or rumors in a “viral” fashion via social media.

Microbes must balance reproducing quickly in hosts and keeping hosts healthy enough to remain social

One challenge of studying the ecology and evolution of infectious disease is that the times when the topics I’m most passionate about capture the public attention are often times that are also difficult.  The past few weeks, this sentiment has become particularly unmistakable. In some ways, it has been exciting to see such interest in microbiology and ecology (because that’s what the spread of a disease is — population growth and ecology!) on social media, in the news, and among my friends and relatives.

Reponse by president, Congress offers case study in U.S. constitutional structures

Watching the response to COVID-19 has provided a fascinating case study in constitutional structures. Every day we get new information as federal and state governments respond to the evolving crisis. The Constitution sets up two basic divisions of power — a horizontal division and vertical division. The horizontal division of power consists of the most basic system of shared powers we are all familiar with — the legislative, executive and judicial branches at the federal level. The Constitution also sets up a sharing of power between the federal government and state governments.

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