Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

Over 310 StFX students discuss COVID-19 and its effect on inequality during 19th annual Global Issues Forum

October 5th, 2020

Over 310 StFX students, through three online sessions and 31 different breakout groups, are joining together today to discuss COVID-19 and its effects on inequality around the world as part of the 19th annual Global Issues Forum at StFX.

The forum is annually organized by a consortium of professors to give students a chance to focus in on a global issue, including ways to improve on it. 

Despite extremely complicated circumstances, including moving to make this year’s event virtual, the forum is even more ambitious this year, organizers say. 

“We are very excited at how it has come together and think it provides a wonderful example of creative pedagogy to learn the most from the current situation,” says StFX anthropology professor Dr. Susan Vincent, one of the organizers. 

“The online element of this year’s forum has made the project more scalable, but also more complex to administer,” says Schwartz School of Business professor Dr. Brad Long, another organizer. 

The students have been assigned to groups and will discuss two questions: 1. Is COVID-19, and the associated measures in various places, an equal opportunity pandemic or is it exacerbating inequality? 2. Is there hope that measures implemented during the pandemic and the measures associated will improve lives of the most vulnerable? (for example, Peru is thinking about implementing universal health care.)

Dr. Vincent says the Global Issues Forum has been held almost every year since 2001.

It has involved several courses and Coady students getting together to discuss a topic from their different viewpoints. Topics have included free trade, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and transnational migration.

“We were faced with a challenge this year since we could not meet physically as we usually do. Nevertheless, over the past couple of months, we have put together an even more ambitious event than usual—students from 14 classes meeting virtually in three separate sessions.” 

Without the possibility of including Coady students this year, organizers coordinated with Immersion Service Learning. Jodi Van Dompseler invited the ISL partner organizations from Peru, Guatemala and Ghana to prepare videos in which they present their views on the topic.

The most important benefit of the forum is that it brings people with different perspectives into a common space to share their perspectives, says fourth year development major honours student Boye Matuluko from Nigeria. Not only are participants coming to their forum with their own lens, they’re bringing all these different ideas together to become more informed, he says.

“This would not have been possible without Matt Cameron’s stupendous efforts from Continuing and Distance Education,” Dr. Vincent says. 

Event organizers also included Drs. Corrine Cash, Christina Holmes, Sutapa Chattopadhyay, Shelley Price, Kim Burnett, L. Jane McMillan, Stefan Litz, and Jonathan Langdon. 

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