Teaching and Research with SARS-CoV-2Please allow me some remarks regarding teaching and research during a pandemic.
- Our health system is still under substantial strain. The situation keeps changing, but the pandemic is far from over. Academics must take into consideration the consequences their actions have for other people. We should act respectfully and responsibly. We should not try to find loopholes. A culture of presenteeism was damaging to organisations already before the pandemic. During the pandemic, presenteeism has become only more toxic.
- I am grateful to those colleagues (many of them young academics) who, during the past months, have successfully developed safe and digital and inspiring academic events. These colleagues have made and are still making an essential contribution to our academic life. They help us to keep in touch. They help us to carry on with our work in a responsible way. Thank you!
- I have great difficulties understanding colleagues who clinge to a culture of presenteeism, who refuse to engage in respectful, responsible and productive digital alternatives. I find it dangerous when these colleagues excuse their own behaviour by pointing to others who “do the same”.
- Academic events, lectures and seminars, often not only serve an academic but also a social purpose. This is fine as long as the social purpose does not jeopardize the academic part. People interested in the academic part of lectures and seminars should be given the chance to participate in a safe and responsible and productive way. Those interested in social interaction might find pubs or coffee-places more suitable than classrooms.
Using digital formats not only shows respect to health workers and to vulnerable people. Digital formats also offer new opportunities to interact better than before. Digital formats are inclusive. They allow people to participate in academic events who, for a number of reasons, could not participate otherwise.
I do thank all my colleagues who, with their creativity and with their inspiration, help us dealing with the pandemic. Digital cooperation among researchers is essential. Several groups have compiled lists of online seminars in their fields:
- Here is a list of online seminars compiled by the American Economic Association.
- The Gary Chamberlain Online Seminar is an international seminar on econometric topics. They provide an exhaustive list of other seminars in economics and econometrics.
- The IDEAS project maintains an Economics Virtual Seminar Calendar.
- Virtual MD Seminar Series
- VIBES (Virtual Behavioral Economics Seminar)
- MiddExLab Virtual Seminar Series
- Norms and Behavioral Change Talks
- Since I am interested in economic behaviour, I also try to understand, why and how decision makers select information they know is biased, e.g. downplaying the actual risks of SARS-CoV-2.
The framework of Kamenica, Gentzkow (AER, 2011) could be useful.
Gitmez, Sonin, Wright (2020) apply this framework to behaviour in the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.
Digital contact tracing apps can help to fight the pandemic. But how can users be motivated to install such an app. Cheng, Fang, Goette (2021) use a large-scale experiment on social media to understand how users can be encouraged (Cheng, Fang, Goette. 2021. Not on my smartphone! Does information about local COVID-19 incidence increase the use of digital contact tracing apps? Mimeo).
Data about the pandemic can be interpreted in different ways. Kfir Eliaz, Ran Spiegler and Yair Weiss's (2021) paper Cheating with models presents a formal argument why we can draw so different conclusions from the same data.
- Non-pharmaceutical measures against the pandemic often restrict social contacts.
Social contacts come with individual costs and benefits. They also come with externalities, i.e. with cost and benefits for others.
Philipson and Posner (1993) present a framework in the context of the AIDS epidemic.
Toxvaerd (2021) extends this framework to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and compares the effects of two types of externalities: infection externalities and socioeconomic externalities.
Brotherhood, Jerbashian (2020) study the role of firms. They ask how much firms can gain by fighting infections to protect their workforce.
Quaas , Meya, Schenk, Bos, Drupp, Requate focus on the dynamics of optimal restrictions. Should one restrict contacts in a strict way for a short time, or should one rather restrict contacts in a milder way over a long time horizon?
Lu and Wang (2021) study in which way a pandemic has the potential to change society and to support democratization. Mechanisms considered are civil participation, political dissent, and what the authors call a risk of government by the people consciousness. (Ming Lu and Danli Wang. 2021. Epidemics and Democratization: Historical Evidence from the Establishment of County Councils in China (1900-1949). Mimeo.)
- Quality of teaching
- Is traditional classroom teaching (in a traditional classroom) better than active learning (in a virtual classroom)?
Deslauriers, McCarty, Miller, Callaghan, and Kestin (2019) confirm in a randomised controlled study that active learning is more successful than tradional classroom teaching. However, students' own subjective perception of learning is better under traditional classroom teaching.
- Cristina Bicchieri, Enrique Fatas, Abraham Aldama, Andres Casas, Ishwari Deshpande, Mariagiulia Lauro, Cristina Parilli, Max Spohn, Paula Pereira, Ruiling Wen. “In Science we (should) trust: expectations and compliance during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
- Solomon Hsiang, Daniel Allen, Sébastien Annan-Phan, Kendon Bell, Ian Bolliger, Trinetta Chong, Hannah Druckenmiller, Luna Yue Huang, Andrew Hultgren, Emma Krasovich, Peiley Lau, Jaecheol Lee, Esther Rolf, Jeanette Tseng, Tiffany Wu. “The effect of large-scale anti-contagion policies on the COVID-19 pandemic”. Nature. 2020.
- Gonzalo Castex, Evgenia Dechter, Miguel Lorca. “COVID-19: The impact of social distancing policies, cross-country analysis.” Economics of Disasters and Climate Change. 2020.
- Hunt Allcott, Levi Boxell, Jacob Conway, Billy Ferguson, Matthew Gentzkow, Benny Goldman. “What Explains Temporal and Geographic Variation in the Early US Coronavirus Pandemic?”. 2020.
- Panu Poutvaara, Madhinee Valeyatheepillay. “Covid-19 Pandemic: Challenges and a Way Forward”. EconPol Policy Report. 2020.
- Pierre Pestieau, Grégory Ponthiere. “Optimal Lockdown and Social Welfare.”. CESifo Working Paper 8694. 2020.
- Aditya Goenka Lin Liu and Manh-Hung Nguyen. “Modeling optimal quarantines under infectious disease related mortality”. TSE Working Paper, n. 20-1136, August 2020.
- Martín Gonzalez-Eiras, Dirk Niepelt. “Optimally Controlling an Epidemic”. CESifo Working Paper 8770. 2020.
- Tiziana Assenza, Fabrice Collard, Martial Dupaigne, Patrick Fève, Christian Hellwig, Sumudu Kankanamge, and Nicolas Werquin. “The Hammer and the Dance: Equilibrium and Optimal Policy during a Pandemic Crisis”. TSE Working Paper, n. 20-1099, May 2020.
- Laurent Miclo, Jörgen W. Weibull, and Daniel Spiro, “Optimal epidemic suppression under an ICU constraint”, TSE Working Paper, n. 20-1111, June 2020.
- Kenju Kamei, Louis Putterman, Jean-Robert Tyran. “Civic Engagement as a Second-Order Public Good: The Cooperative Underpinnings of the Accountable State.” SSRN 3448470. (The paper has obviously been written before the pandemic. Still, I think that civic engagement help us understanding social and economic dynamics during the pandemic.