The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we do things and reoriented our interactive spaces — university campuses included. At Seton Hall's IHS campus, a new program focusing on ethical issues in pandemics is one example of rethinking spaces. Each week, Professor Bryan Pilkington holds a conversation with leading experts from the medicine, nursing, and the health sciences, as well as political theorists, economists, and philosophers. "We arrive at the best answers when we practically reason together," says Pilkington, "so our goal was twofold. We wanted to keep our communities — especially our student communities — connected and we wanted insights from folks with different disciplinary expertise."
The COVID Ethics sessions have tackled tough issues like how to balance practitioner safety with their duty to care, how to think about prioritizing immediate and long-term responses to the pandemic, and how COVID has affected daily activities, such as sport and recreation. "We've been fortunate to have some excellent conversation partners to help us think through some very challenging ethical issues and to widen the scope of common perspectives on COVID," Pilkington said. One such contributor was Kassandra Yocco, captain of the SHU Women's Cross Country Team and a nursing student, who spoke about the cancellation of university athletics, different approaches to training, and why this health crisis has affirmed her desire to become a nurse. "Sometimes in our urgency to address ethical challenges, we miss important voices. I'm grateful that we've had significant student participation," said Pilkington.
The rethinking of educational spaces and maintaining connections to SHU students is thanks to Kelly Freeman, Director of Student Life at the IHS Campus. Given the limited interactive time — the sessions run for an hour each week, Freeman devised a discussion broad to continue the conversation in between sessions and to share articles and books referenced by panelists. "These sessions would not have been successful without our collaboration with Student Life. Kelly's outreach to students, creative thinking, and engagement with the project have been essential in building our online ethics community," said Pilkington.
The COVID Ethics sessions continue weekly. For the latest topics, panelists, and to join the community, contact Bryan Pilkington at firstname.lastname@example.org or Kelly Freeman at email@example.com. Information can be found via Twitter @SHUBioeEthics and Instagram @hallstudents, or by texting IHSEvents to 55000.