Fall ScholarSip Event Focused on Inequities as a Cause and a Consequence of COVID-19
December 16, 2020
On Monday, December 7, the Drexel Libraries hosted the first ScholarSip event of the 2020/2021 season, featuring a “food for thought session” with Drexel Professor Usama Bilal.
Now in its ninth season, ScholarSip was created in 2011 as part of the Libraries’ strategic goals to build interdisciplinary, cross-campus community and toast the end of the academic term. Though usually held on campus, the fall event was once again held remotely via Zoom due to COVID-19
As she introduced Professor Bilal, Danuta A. Nitecki, Dean of Libraries, chose to look on the bright side: “Utilizing Zoom has made it possible for us to extend the invitation to our ScholarSip series to our friends outside the Drexel community, something that was not easily possible when hosting it in person due to space and budgetary constraints,” said Nitecki, as she welcomed those tuning in from other organizations and institutions.
This year’s ScholarSip events address the theme of Responding to COVID-19 through Research and Scientific Problem-Solving, with each guest speaker sharing their research on COVID-19 research topics and how they have responded to the pandemic both through original research and through adapting existing procedures to address its effects on various communities.
“When it came time to select the theme for this year’s ScholarSip series, the answer seemed obvious,” said Dean Nitecki, “Almost as soon as the pandemic started, Drexel researchers began creating new or adapting existing research projects in order to better understand COVID-19 and its impact on various communities. Of course we had to explore this important work.”
From there, Dean Nitecki turned the Zoom controls over to Professor Bilal, who shared his latest research around COVID-19 with the 46 online attendees. During his talk titled Inequities as a Cause and a Consequence of COVID-19, Professor Bilal offered insight on the impacts of COVID-19 from a global perspective and explained how existing societal inequities are a “cause and consequence” of COVID-19.
When asked what COVID-19 is, most people would say that it is an infectious disease, said Bilal. However, he says, the virus is much more than that. Bilal describes the “second definition” of COVID-19 as “a socio-political historical event, occurring in a specific historical context, that has caused a mortality crisis with specific person-place-time effects, that has generated a response by public and private organizations that have their own social and economic impacts.”
Bilal also shared information on how different populations have been affected by COVID-19 based on country, age, and ethnicity and the impact of this virus over time. He and his team were able to analyze data from other countries to conclude that healthcare inequities are worse after the COVID-19 pandemic than they were before.
Following his presentation, Professor Bilal engaged in a Q&A session with those who attended the event, during which he stressed the importance of equity within schools and explained the factors that place an individual at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19.
Finally, utilizing Zoom technology, participants were divided into various breakout rooms in an effort to recreate the lively and stimulating conversation that usually follows ScholarSip events. These breakout rooms gave attendees the chance to socialize with colleagues and meet new people while discussing Bilal’s presentation and sharing a final toast to the fall term. Missed the event? Watch the complete recording of the session on the Drexel Libraries’ YouTube page.