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Opinion: The power of a social science perspective in the COVID crisis

Markus Zürcher, general secretary of the Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences (SAGW/ASSH), writes that the relevance of the humanities and social science perspectives has manifested powerfully as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds.

In an article published on the SAGW website on April 9th, Zürcher writes that humanities scholars and social scientists have the crucial responsibility of making sense of the actions of individuals and populations; information that is needed by epidemiologists to make decisions about how to limit the spread of the new coronavirus. An understanding of philosophical principles, as well as knowledge of historical events and past pandemics, are key to understanding the consequences of our actions in the present crisis, he writes.

Zürcher describes how political divides, both geographical and partisan, are re-shaping the way goods and information are exchanged. In addition to the virus itself, social distancing measures (and the digital technologies that facilitate them) are reinforcing social inequalities. Zürcher emphasizes that the huge impacts on human relationships, both personal and professional, will provide copious material for social science researchers for years to come.

Read the full article (in German) on the SAGW website: “Geisteswissenschaftliche Aufklärung im Zeichen des Covid