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July 16, 2020

Virtual Lecture Series Examines Transformation During COVID-19

TUCSON, Ariz. — The College of Science and the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Arizona have joined forces to present an online series on the past, present and future of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The series, titled "Science + Society: Transformation During COVID-19," will pair experts from the two colleges, whose discussions will be moderated by Nancy Montoya, a communications and marketing specialist in University Communications. Montoya is an award-winning reporter with more than 40 years of journalism experience.

The three conversations will premiere on the series' YouTube page on July 23, July 30 and Aug. 6 at 5 p.m. (PT). They will be available to watch any time after they go live. The series is supported by Mike and Beth Kasser and the Holualoa Companies.

"The challenges of COVID-19 will continue to have an enormous impact on every aspect of our daily lives for the foreseeable future," said Elliott Cheu, dean of the College of Science. "This collaborative lecture series explores a brief history of pandemics, while looking at present circumstances and the immediate future through the lens of science and social and behavioral sciences. We are pleased to be partnering with our colleagues within the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences."

"The formidable challenges presented by COVID-19 to our health and our society require a recommitment to interdisciplinary collaboration," said John Paul Jones III, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. "We are excited to partner with our colleagues in the College of Science to present fresh perspectives on the pandemic by bringing together the expertise of our science and social science scholars."

About the Talks

July 23 – "Making Sense of this Moment: COVID-19 in Historical Perspective"

In the first talk of the series, UArizona geneticist Michael Worobey and UArizona historian Emma Perez will discuss how the history of the pandemic is being constructed. How will COVID-19 be remembered in 100 years? How is our framing of the pandemic different now than it was two months ago? When there are conflicting narratives, whose stories will remain? Finally, as we deal with a stacking of critical events – including the pandemic, a presidential election, a wobbling economy and racial strife – how will our understanding of this moment in time forever change the trajectory of our world?

July 30 – "Compassion for Others and Ourselves During the Pandemic"

The second lecture of the series will explore how the challenges of this trying time can help us cultivate empathy and compassion, both for ourselves and others.

Leslie Langbert, director of the UArizona Center for Compassion Studies, will provide tips for how we can reduce anxiety by incorporating mindfulness into our day and how we can draw upon those skills to show compassion to others. One example is to be mindful of the communication challenges that mask-wearing, social distancing and Zoom calls present for people who are living with hearing loss. Nicole Marrone, an associate professor in the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, will explain these challenges and present suggestions for how we can stay connected.

Aug. 6 – "Moving Forward, Life After a Pandemic"

As part of UArizona Campus Reentry Task Force, biologist Joyce Schroeder is lead on the implementation of app-based exposure notification. Schroeder hopes that people will sign up for this anonymous app to help control the spread of COVID-19. But will they?

In the final lecture of the series, Schroeder will converse with UArizona communication scholar Rain Wuyu Liu, who studies persuasion, health behavior promotion and COVID-19 risk perceptions and preventative behaviors. Schroeder and Liu will discuss the barriers to people adopting recommended behaviors, strategies to promote healthy behavior and how managing expectations may help people adapt to new social norms. Finally, as we enter a future where the threat of communicable disease looms large, Schroeder and Liu will discuss if we can ever return to "normal," and how can we use the power of information to reduce risk.

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Media contact:
Lori Harwood
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

The University of Arizona, a land-grant university with two independently accredited medical schools, is one of the nation's top public universities, according to U.S. News & World Report. Established in 1885, the university is widely recognized as a student-centric university and has been designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education. The university ranked in the top 20 in 2018 in research expenditures among all public universities, according to the National Science Foundation, and is a leading Research 1 institution with $687 million in annual research expenditures. The university advances the frontiers of interdisciplinary scholarship and entrepreneurial partnerships as a member of the Association of American Universities, the 65 leading public and private research universities in the U.S. It benefits the state with an estimated economic impact of $4.1 billion annually. For the latest on the University of Arizona response to the novel coronavirus, visit the university's COVID-19 webpage.