In the DRMCCA programme, we study all kinds of risks: earthquakes, tornadoes, forest fires, traffic accidents and clashes between competing football fans. I would say that the risk for a pandemic was mentioned maybe once or twice. That is, until the spring of 2020.
In March 2020, when the virus reached Sweden and universities moved to distance-learning, we had just commenced two courses: Preparedness & Planning, and Risk Perception, Communication & Human Behaviour. Just as the whole world adapted to the new pandemic, so did our courses. Most seminars and lectures included some kind of analysis of the latest Covid-19 developments – this was really insightful since many of the teachers have close connections and understanding of the response systems, and many of my classmates come from different countries and could share many different experiences (some of them even being stuck abroad as borders closed).
For the Preparedness course, we asked question such as how prepared were different countries to respond to the pandemic? How do we plan for the next few months without knowing what will happen?
In the Risk Perception course, we could talk about why some people were really scared and others did not care? What was the most ethical response strategy? And why did people buy so much toilet paper?
Beyond this, some of our teachers got involved in a research project on how Covid-19 was presented in media, and us students had the chance to contribute to the data collection. As far as I know, this project is not yet finalised, but once it is, I’ll try to share more about it. Nevertheless, it was so interesting to see how quickly things moved in the research field to try to comprehend the fast changes.
Even if I certainly wish this pandemic had never happened, I am grateful to have been a student at the time, as it has been very interesting to follow reactions and responses through the academic lens.
Feel free to share any thoughts or questions below!
Picture from Folkhälsomyndigheten