News From the Center

National Humanities Center Responds to COVID-19 Crisis

March 23, 2020 [Updated April 2, 2020]

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the National Humanities Center has taken several steps to protect the health of its Fellows, staff, and visitors, as well as to ensure that the work of the Center continues during this challenging time. The Center closed its facilities on March 13 and instituted a work-from-home policy for staff and Fellows. All events and gatherings set to take place at the Center for the remainder of March and April have been cancelled.

Recognizing the burdens placed on its Fellows, the Center’s staff has implemented a number of new policies and modes of support to help our scholars continue their research, including remote library and technical assistance. The Center has also created digital mechanisms for Fellows to meet virtually and remain connected with one another, helping sustain the intellectual community for which the Center is well known and which plays a significant part in its success as a research institution.

For Fellows with special needs, such as those from international institutions, the Center is making sure to provide additional communications and support to help them deal with their particular challenges.

We have also created webinars to help teachers work more effectively online with their students and to contextualize the ongoing pandemic through the lens of the humanities.

For teachers looking to contextualize the current crisis and facing the prospect of converting classroom plans into online learning for their students, the Center’s education team has created four “pop-up” webinars. The first, “Putting Coronavirus in Context: A History of Disease and Epidemics,” featured University of Pittsburgh historian of medicine, Mari Webel explaining how past epidemics hold valuable lessons to help understand the novel coronavirus outbreak as well as global responses to it. The second, “Essentials of Online Learning for the Humanities: Crisis Version,” led by Jennifer Brammer Elliott from the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was designed to help guide instructors through the practical essentials required to “switch to online learning,” offer resources to do so more effectively, and connect teachers with a community of practice to help them in real time.

In May, the Center will offer “Consolatio: Coping with a Collapsing World,” with classicist Michael Fontaine from Cornell University discussing how Ancient Greek, Roman, Jewish, and Christian writers developed strategies for coping with sudden illness, loss, and death. Also in May, Chris Bunin of the Virginia Geographic Alliance will lead a webinar entitled, “John Snow to Johns Hopkins: Using Geoliteracy to Teach about Medical Geography” examining how geography and location intelligence helps us understand events such as epidemics, migrations, and cultural diffusions.