The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted almost every aspect of life. Researchers at the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University are responding to these new challenges, working across disciplines to present clear-minded, research-based information that contributes to our understanding of the forces that are shaping the experiences of the pandemic.
This page captures ICS’ engagement with the issues surrounding and consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes articles, policy documents and discussions by ICS researchers as well as teaching resources developed through research activities to enhance the shift to online teaching. It also features our virtual seminars and workshops that have emerged in place of traditional on-campus presentations.
One key issue we collectively grapple with is the opportunities and challenges of carrying out research during a period of uncertainty. ICS researchers continue to work on the important issues that have been the focus of the Institute since its inception, including key topics like young people and social media; inequality and community economies; the development of cultural infrastructure; and local and global responses to climate change.
Yet, we are also adapting and responding to the conditions that have emerged since the COVID-19 crisis. For some researchers, adapting has meant pausing projects that would be unethical or impossible to continue during the pandemic. For others, it has meant carefully altering methods, practices, timelines or focus in relation to the different social and economic realities of our research partners and participants. This is especially important for our continued engagement with the Greater Western Sydney region and other communities across the country.
We look forward to sharing our collaborative research and engagement activities with other Western Sydney University researchers, as well as those across Australia and the world, to help in navigating a path to recovery. Please do get in touch with us if you would like further information.
For University-wide updates and frequently asked questions please refer to Western Sydney University's Information on Coronavirus (COVID-19).
ICS Seminar Series
The ICS Seminar Series presents an exciting breadth of social and cultural research from the Institute’s renowned staff and doctoral candidates as well as a range of national and international visiting scholars. Seminars are currently being held on Thursdays online. For more information about the upcoming seminar see the ICS Seminar Series page.
Digital Media, Collaboration and Knowledge Production in an Epoch of COVID-19: Seminar on Theories, Methods and Practices for HASS Researchers
Disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS) have a long and venerable history of inventive thinking to address emergent problems. The planetary contagion of COVID-19 and ensuing challenges have forced researchers across all disciplines to pause and reassess the relation between theory, method and practice. This seminar invited some of Western Sydney University's leading scholars and creative practitioners in HASS to briefly present how they have enlisted digital media technologies in their research and teaching. Recording to be released shortly.
Beyond the Crisis: Transitioning to a Better World?
Professor Ien Ang presents the sixth seminar in the COVID-19 series co-hosted by the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation (ADI) and the Science and Society Network.
We have made available a series of lecture videos that introduce Higher Degree Research students to key theorists and concepts of central importance to sociocultural thought. With presentations from experts from within the Institute for Culture and Society and beyond, each session involves a one hour lecture followed by 30 minutes of questions and discussion.
The Key Thinkers and Concepts Lecture Series videos cover topics including Stuart Hall and Cultural Studies, Michel Foucault, Embodiment, Space and Place, Postcolonialism and Environmental Humanities.
A database containing 50 digital resources that may be used in online teaching have been developed by Institute for Culture and Society researchers. All resources are drawn from research projects and seminars by ICS researchers.
Dr Emma Power is one of the hosts of the Housing Journal Podcast (opens in a new window). Episode 8.1 and 8.2 discuss the impact of COVID-19 on housing and the role of housing in post-COVID-19 recovery.
8. Housing Journal Podcast - Part 1 - May 2020 (opens in a new window)
In this episode Dr Emma Power and Dr Dallas Rogers outline the International Journal of Housing Policy’s editorial position on COVID-19. Leo Patterson Ross at the Tenants Union NSW, Carolyn Whitzman and Marie-Eve Desroche discuss COVID’s impacts on marginal groups in Australia and Canada.
8. Housing Journal Podcast - Part 2 - May 2020 (opens in a new window)
Beth Watts from Housing Studies outlines the journal’s response to COVID-19, Cameron Parsell from the University of Queensland considers it’s impacts on homeless people and Peter Mackie from Cardiff University reflects on lessons on post-crisis recovery in the global south. Julie Lawson at Housing Theory and Society asks Tim Blackwell from Uppsala University, Edwin Buitelaar from Utrecht University and Jago Dodson at RMIT about the role of housing in any COVID-19 recovery.
See all episodes on Soundcloud: International Journal of Housing Policy (opens in a new window).
Below is a selection of academic commentary on issues related to COVID-19. For a full list of media appearances see ICS in the Media.
Opinion Articles and Essays
By Dr Zoe Sofoulis. 29 May 2020
Pandemic lockdown policies focusing on traditional families and households can result in single people effectively living in solitary confinement. Adopting a ‘co-virality’ model may slightly increase viral risk but offers a major gain for mental health. Dr Zoe Sofoulis writes on this at Croakey.org and expands further in a blog post.
By Dan Musil, Professor Katherine Gibson, Associate Professor Marcelo Vieta (University of Toronto) and Dr Stephen Healy. 21 May 2020.
Research by the team suggests worker ownership should be a central plank to rebuild more sustainable, equal and resilient post-COVID-19 economies (opens in a new window). Benefits of working cooperatives include dignified work that supports workers and society at large, responsiveness to the communities and environments in which they operate, creation of social trust, fostering of worker innovation and resilience during tough economic times.
By Professor James Arvanitakis. 16 May 2020.
Professor James Arvanitakis writes about the impact of COVID-19 on American politics (opens in a new window)including how it may impact the upcoming election.
By Associate Professor Alana Lentin. 12 May 2020.
Associate Professor Alana Lentin writes that as coronavirus continues to rampage across the globe, it has become apparent that, while biologically the virus may not discriminate, it is having a much worse effect on people from ethnic minorities (opens in a new window).
By Dr Zelmarie Cantillon. 1 May 2020.
The COVID-19 crisis has made it clearer than ever how crucial arts and culture are to our everyday lives. We rely on arts and culture for entertainment, education and distraction, but also as an outlet to respond to unsettling circumstances.
By Dr Joanne Orlando. 29 April 2020.
Dr Joanne Orlando writes about children's voices being missing from the debate around schools reopening. Children are at the centre of this school dilemma (opens in a new window)so their experiences and views are important, she says.
By Professor Brett Neilson. 18 April 2020.
In part 2 of this Essay for the COMPAS Coronavirus and Mobility forum (opens in a new window), Professor Brett Neilson discusses the language of anticipation in regards to the predictability of the COVID outbreak and the relation of logistics to epidemiology.
By Professor Brett Neilson. 18 April 2020.
In part 1 of this Essay for the COMPAS Coronavirus and Mobility forum (opens in a new window), Professor Brett Neilson explores disruptions to supply chains and logistical networks occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and the role force majeure plays in the transformation of capital currently underway.
By Professor James Arvanitakis. 18 April 2020.
Professor James Arvanitakis writes on the role of populism in American politics (opens in a new window)and how it is affecting responses to COVID-19.
By Dr Joanne Orlando. 10 April 2020.
COVID-19 has left parents grappling with the challenges of online learning, entertainment and work. It’s natural the amount of time children spend using screens will now increase. But that’s OK. There are ways to make the best of kids’ increased use of screens.
By Professor James Arvanitakis. 4 April 2020.
Professor James Arvanitakis writes that there are five dimensions of American life that may provide insights into the pandemic environment (opens in a new window)and how it could work for Trump despite his initial handling of the crisis.
By Philippa Collin, Dr Teresa Swist and UTS, University of Sydney and University of Melbourne colleagues. 3 April 2020.
Young people in Australia are among the fastest-growing group to contract COVID19. Our research has found that, contrary to popular belief, many young people in Australia are seriously concerned about the virus.
By Lisa Portolan. 31 March 2020.
When Tinder issued an in-app public service announcement regarding COVID-19 we all had a little laugh as a panoply of memes and gags hit the internet. Two weeks later the laughter has subsided, but the curiosity continues. How will singles mingle in the time of Corona?
By Lisa Portolan. 29 March 2020.
Love in the time of Corona is intensely felt. Or more accurately, people are intensely swiping right. It makes sense to some extent. As a result of COVID-19 and social distancing policies, more and more Australians are working and studying from home and that means a spike in dating app usage (opens in a new window).
By Emeritus Professor David Rowe. 28 March 2020.
There is a common saying that all politics is local. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we should invent a new one: all sport is global. In a few short months, worries about sport – especially via the media – being only too available, have given way to complaints that live sport action has become as rare as panic-purchased toilet paper.
By Vanessa Whittington. 26 March 2020.
There are distinct parallels between the severe economic downturn of the 1930s and the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 crisis in terms of mass business closures and worker layoffs. The Australian government has estimated that one million Australians could become unemployed as a result of the coronavirus.
By Dr Emma Power and University of Sydney and UNSW colleagues. 23 March 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a double crisis affecting public health and the economy. And both aspects are playing out in our housing system – in our homes. Our homes are the “first line of defence against the COVID-19 outbreak”, as the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Housing puts it. But, depending on how our housing system responds, it could make the double crisis worse.
By Associate Professor George Morgan. 11 March 2020.
Associate Professor Morgan explains the impact of COVID-19 on casual and gig economy workers (opens in a new window)who face loss of income and precariousness.
By Dr Tanya Notley and Associate Professor Michael Dezuanni (QUT). 25 February 2020.
Like adults, children use the news to learn about what’s happening in the world. But the circulation of misinformation, such as the recent spread of fake news about COVID-19, blurs our understanding of events and issues. Here are three things you can do (whether you’re a teacher or parent) to help children critically think about the news.
Radio and Television Interviews
Professor James Arvanitakis regularly appears on ABC radio and television programs commenting on current news, American politics, and responses to COVID-19. Commentary includes 702 ABC Sydney (opens in a new window)(at 2:31:40) on his experiences of living in Wyoming and traveling within the USA, American politics and approaches to COVID-19; and ABC 24 Weekend Breakfast (syndicated nationally) on American politics including US President Donald Trump encouraging places of worship to open, controversial comments by Joe Biden and implications of postal votes, in May. Further comment on ABC 24 Weekend Breakfast, ABC News (syndicated nationally) and ABC 24 The Drum in April 2020.
1233 ABC Newcastle interviews Professor Paul James on male politicians and different countries' approaches to handling COVID-19. 22 May 2020.
2SER radio (opens in a new window) and The Wire interviews Associate Professor Karen Soldatic on the Senate inquiry into Newstart, the COVID-19 Supplement and the future of the JobSeeker Payment, and why it is important for people with disabilities to receive support through the Disability Support Pension. 6-7 May 2020.
702 ABC Sydney Afternoons interviews Associate Professor Shanthi Robertson on migration policy including economic consequences and impacts post-COVID-19 (syndicated to ABC Central Coast NSW). 702 ABC Sydney Focus interviews Associate Professor Robertson on the impacts of COVID-19 on international students and how government and universities are responding (syndicated to ABC Central Coast NSW, ABC Capricornia). 5-6 May 2020.
702 ABC Sydney Drive interviews Dr Joanne Orlando on how workplace practices might change as COVID-19 restrictions ease, and in the future (syndicated to ABC Central Coast NSW). Channel 7 Sunrise interviews Dr Joanne Orlando on children's screen time during COVID-19. ABC Radio Newcastle (opens in a new window)interviews Dr Orlando on tips for avoiding digital hoax requests. April and May 2020.
ABC Gippsland interviews PhD candidate Dan Musil, and secretary of Earthworker Cooperative in Victoria, on the future of manufacturing in Australia and the impacts of COVID-19, including the recent research by Professor Katherine Gibson and Dr Stephen Healy on a just and sustainable manufacturing culture in Australia. 27 April 2020.
ABC Newcastle Mornings (opens in a new window)interviews Professor Katherine Gibson on the future of manufacturing in Australia and how local manufacturers have been assisting with production during the COVID-19 pandemic. 6 April 2020.
3AW Radio (opens in a new window)interviews Associate Professor George Morgan on the financial vulnerability of casual workers who don’t have sick leave entitlements if they are unable to work due to Coronavirus (syndicated nationally). 12 March 2020.
Further Media Comment
New York Times (opens in a new window)interviews Emeritus Professor David Rowe on Sydney during a time of stay at home orders and the value of moments outdoors (republished by by MSN Canada, MSN USA and others). 4 May 2020.
ABC News (opens in a new window)publishes comments by Dr Joanne Orlando on what comprises quality screen time for children (republished by MSN Australia). 1 May 2020.
The Conversation (opens in a new window)publishes an Open Letter to the Prime Minister to extend Coronavirus support to temporary workers. Associate Professor Shanthi Robertson is a signatory. 7 April 2020.
ABC News (opens in a new window)interviews Dr Joanne Orlando on how working remotely due to Coronavirus might change how people work in the future (republished by MSN Australia). 28 March 2020.
Comment by Emeritus Professor David Rowe on the negative effect on Australian sports fans of not being able to watch live sports is published in The Canberra Times (opens in a new window), 7 News (opens in a new window), Daily Mail Online (UK) and over 120 other outlets. ABC 24 News Afternoons and 720 ABC Perth interview Emeritus Professor Rowe on the implications the pandemic could have on the Tokyo Olympics and other large sporting events (syndicated to ABC 1 Perth). February and March 2020.