Insights from bioethics and health humanities are essential in our responses to the coronavirus pandemic. Penn State’s Bioethics Program is involved in various initiatives related to COVID-19—among them, a new project, Viral Imaginations: COVID-19. The centerpiece of this project is a curated, web-based gallery of poetry, art, and other creative works by Pennsylvanians’ related to their first-person, lived experiences of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Viral Imaginations will offer perspectives and reflections on a variety of topics—from social isolation and economic disruption to illness, grief, uncertainty, and loss,” said Michele Mekel, Bioethics Program assistant director and project co-principal investigator. “Our aim is also to provide a much-needed community resource during these periods of physical distancing.”
The site will not only serve as a resource for the public—it will also create an archive for future study by scholars, health care professionals, administrators, and policymakers.
“I am delighted this project is receiving support from across the university,” said Jonathan H. Marks, director of the Penn State Bioethics Program. “I anticipate that these individual perspectives will also shed light on systemic ethical problems in pandemic preparedness and response.”
Viral Imaginations: COVID-19 is an interdisciplinary undertaking by the Penn State Bioethics Program, the Penn State College of Medicine’s Humanities Department, the Penn State College of the Liberal Arts’ Communications Arts and Sciences Department and Information Technology Web and Creative Services Team, the Penn State College of Arts and Architecture, and the Penn State Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences. Michele Mekel and Bernice Hausman, both members of the Bioethics Program Advisory Board, are leading the project, which is funded by a grant from the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences.
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