The COVID-19 pandemic radically changed the free and liberal social environment we were used to. Imposed social distancing and the need to wear masks, coupled with quarantines, the globalization of the virus, and the realization that there is no place where one may escape its grip, have turned life in 2020 into a strange and somewhat apocalyptic experience. For many, these strange times are deeply unsettling. With no vaccine thus far, it seems that all policies have converged into one general guideline: We have to learn to live with the virus. We have to adapt our daily routines to a world in which the risk of COVID-19 is omnipresent. What exactly does this adaptation entail?
However, the challenges that COVID-19 poses to life in 2020 are not new. In fact, the health crisis of COVID-19 is the forerunner of a much deeper crisis that has been growing for many years: climate change.
The climate crisis is changing the planet and, more significantly for us, the human habitat. A changing habitat requires new adaptations: The climate crisis calls for new ways of “living with.” Human beings need to learn to live in a world in which temperatures are ever rising and fires erupt that melt the permafrost in Siberia and burn the forests of Australia and California. We need to learn to live in a world in which there are ever-fewer species and biological diversity is constantly decreasing. People need to learn to live in a world with the hazards of coastal flooding or hellish fires. In a world in which new health hazards lurk as a result of climate change, people need to learn how to live in a strange and unexpected environment.
What is the meaning of “living with”? Surely, the answer includes most aspects of life, such as workplace, family, leisure, career, politics, science, theology, and individuality. We see these changes, taken together, as the emergence of a new normality, a normality of risks. This normality is the puzzle we want to tackle in our workshop.
- What does this normality entail? In what ways does it resemble the 20th century risk society and in what ways does it entail something new?
- How is preparedness enacted on a global scale, and what can we learn from the experience of different societies with tackling COVID-19?
- What are the effects of lock-downs, mask wearing, physical distancing and similar practices, to our sense of subjectivity? Inter-subjectivity?
- Does living with an immediate sense of danger and risk change modern perception of time?
- Can we understand this shaky normality as being connected with the world that climate change is bringing about?
- What are the challenges that such menaces pose to liberal democracies and the role of science and experts?
These are only a few of the questions we are interested in. We are not interested in unequivocal answers but rather in theoretical deliberations and empirical research into these questions that will provide rich and comparative perspectives for discussion. The workshop will host senior scholars and experts from public health, medical anthropology and the humanities to deliver master classes and discuss participants' personal works.
We invite researchers (PhD candidates, postdoc fellows and early career academics) to submit their candidacy as participants in an international workshop. Our objective is to develop personal texts into original publishable papers that can be submitted as a group or individually to academic publishing.
The workshop will be held in Jerusalem, Israel, in 5-8 July 2021. It is a collaboration of the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, the Edelstein Center at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Sciences and Ideas at Tel Aviv University.
We are interested in interdisciplinary discussions and call for researchers from diverse fields of knowledge, such as the social sciences, health sciences, law, environmental sciences, and the humanities—including geography, history, philosophy, cultural studies and ethics.
The summer school will be held at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute and will provide overseas students up to a $500 grant as partial reimbursement of their travel expenses and accommodation costs in Jerusalem. Local participants will receive reimbursement for transportation to and from Jerusalem.
Applications should include:
- Abstract of your proposed original paper to be discussed (please include references for works cited)
The deadline for the submission of all application materials is February 28th 2021
Please note that we will be expecting participants to send papers for pre-circulation by June 1st 2021
- Prof. Nadav Davidovitch, School of Public Health, Ben Gurion University.
- Prof. Andrew Lakoff, College of Letters, Art and Science, USC University of South California.
- Prof. Limor Samimian Darash, Federman School of Public Policy, the Hebrew University.
- Prof. Monica Schoch-Spana, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University.
- Prof. Dora Vargha, Department of History, University of Exeter.
Note: we plan this conference with the hope that by July 2021 we will return to normal course of academic life. If this will not be the situation we will consider using transferring it to virtual meetings.