Reimagining universities post-Covid-19

The issues surrounding COVID-19 and various policy responses to its salience in communities across the world do not however relate to health and economic issues alone. They have also given rise to issues of sociality – how, under the new conditions, might people within and across communities relate to each other, and what new cultural and social formations might emerge in their aftermath. How might we need to rethink and reimagine issues of global interconnectivity and interdependence? How might they lead to the emergence of a new kind of world society? And for us as educators, how might we rethink the basic purposes of education, and the pedagogic models better suited to the ever-present possibilities of insecurity, risk and relentless change?

In the wake of COVID 19, universities around the world have been closed for instruction on campuses. Most are transitioning to online remote course instruction and learning for the semester. Universities have suspended study abroad programs.3 A number of Australasian universities, dependent on international students, especially Chinese students, have simply closed down for the semester. The loss of international students across Australasian universities could be 40 billion dollars, says QUT Margaret Sheil, leading to the devastation of the IE market.4 Around the world, many universities have also closed.

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Reflecting on experiences of social distancing

One of our children, age 7 years, was asked if he wanted to talk to his friends online. “No!” he replied angrily, “what’s the point if I can’t touch them!?” While his exasperation may not be shared by all of us, it concerns something basic to human life: embodied interaction with other people. Many aspects of our lives that were once taken for granted have been profoundly altered by lockdowns and social distancing measures that are part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Things as simple as hugging a friend, talking face-to-face, socialising freely, and travelling have been restricted in many countries. Even as social distancing measures are slowly relaxed, hesitation and anxiety remain. The situation has had a profound effect on our social relations. How might we better understand how people have experienced this seismic shift?

A promising place to look is the philosophical tradition of phenomenology, which is dedicated to the detailed study of human experience. Phenomenology draws on a range of methods to make explicit and clarify the subtle and intricate structures of experience. We build here on our previous work on the phenomenology of illness, which brought to light fundamental dimensions of illness experience using this method. Phenomenology is concerned with aspects of experience that are so deeply rooted in our lives that we typically overlook them, seldom reflecting on their nature. These include being situated in a meaningful world, feeling connected to others, feeling at home in a place, and experiencing things as real or present. Differing forms of experience, including illness experiences, have characteristic features that can be illuminated by phenomenological research.

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The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on older adults

The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic are different for various socio-demographic groups, and Medical News Today has zoomed in on the ways in which this crisis has affected the more vulnerable ones. In this Special Feature, we focus on how the pandemic has affected older adults.

From the likelihood of developing a more severe form of COVID-19 to the risks of isolation and mental health problems, this feature looks at ways in which older adults have taken the brunt of the pandemic.

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In-cell defense mechanism against viruses, decrease with age

Posted in Coronavirus, Old adult, Old age | Tagged , ,

Depression during COVID-19

Living under lockdown can cause negative emotions and force lifestyle changes that may be difficult to handle. This might be especially true for those experiencing mental health conditions, such as depression.

There are several ways people can try to manage pandemic-related fears, anxieties, and changes to prevent them from causing or worsening depression.

This article discusses depression, how the coronavirus pandemic may affect it, and ways to manage depression using at-home remedies, lifestyle tips, and medical treatments.

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Caring for someone with depression during the COVID-19 pandemic

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What to know about anxiety

Anxiety is a normal and often healthy emotion. However, when a person regularly feels disproportionate levels of anxiety, it might become a medical disorder.

Anxiety disorders form a category of mental health diagnoses that lead to excessive nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worry

These disorders alter how a person processes emotions and behave, also causing physical symptoms. Mild anxiety might be vague and unsettling, while severe anxiety may seriously affect day-to-day living.

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Autopoietic Systems, Not Corporate Actors: A Sketch of Niklas Luhmann’s Theory of Organisations

Niklas Luhmann’s sociological systems theory sees in an organisation neither a group of acting individuals nor a single corporative actor, but instead a social system. For Luhmann, a social system is a closed network of communication processes that recursively engender each other. This article introduces the reader to this particular way of understanding organisations. For this purpose, we will have to look at certain individual issues within Luhmann’s theory. We will start with a few explanatory notes on Luhmann’s theory of communication. Subsequently, key terms from the field of systems theory such as ‘system’, ‘medium/form’, ‘autopoiesis’ and ‘structure’ will be introduced. With the help of these notions, we will be able to clarify what Luhmann understands by a social system in general. For Luhmann, organisations are social systems of a particular type. In the last two sections, the specific characteristics of organisations as subsystems of the society will be outlined.

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Organisms, activity, and being: on the substance of process ontology

According to contemporary ‘process ontology’, organisms are best conceptualised as spatio-temporally extended entities whose mereological composition is fundamentally contingent and whose essence consists in changeability. In contrast to the Aristotelian precepts of classical ‘substance ontology’, from the four-dimensional perspective of this framework, the identity of an organism is grounded not in certain collections of privileged properties, or features which it could not fail to possess, but in the succession of diachronic relations by which it persists, or ‘perdures’ as one entity over time. In this paper, I offer a novel defence of substance ontology by arguing that the coherency and plausibility of the radical reconceptualisation of organisms proffered by process ontology ultimately depends upon its making use of the ‘substantial’ principles it purports to replace.

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Autopoiesis, biological autonomy and the process view of life

In recent years, an increasing number of theoretical biologists and philosophers of biology have been opposing reductionist research agendas by appealing to the concept of biological autonomy which draws on the older concept of autopoiesis. In my paper, I investigate some of the ontological implications of this approach. The emphasis on autonomy and autopoiesis, together with the associated idea of organisational closure, might evoke the impression that organisms are to be categorised ontologically as substances: ontologically independent, well-individuated, discrete particulars. However, I argue that this is mistaken. Autopoiesis and biological autonomy, properly understood, require a rigorous commitment to a process ontological view of life.

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Toward an Anthropology of Ethics: Foucault and the Pedagogies of Autopoiesis

Anthropology has come to exhibit a certain ethical self-consciousness, a certain ethical anxiety, which the immediate heirs of Franz Boas would hardly have countenanced, perhaps hardly have under- stood. It emerged with the protests of the 1960s and had its earliest collective voice in Reinventing Anthropology, published in 1969 under the editorship of Dell Hymes. It has, however, proven to be far more durable than the Generation of Love. Though prevailingly leftist, its voices—neo-Marxist, feminist, postcolonial, ‘‘queer’’—have become increasingly diverse over the past three decades. The recent controversy over Alfred Kroeber’s treatment of his Yahi interlocutor, Ishi, is only one of many indications that its intensity remains quite high.1 What might thus be called anthro- pology’s ‘‘ethical turn’’ is indeed still very much in process. Here, I am less inter- ested in all that it has grown to encompass and enliven than in what, as yet, it has left almost entirely by the wayside. Anthropologists may worry at present over the stance they should take toward the Islamic veil, pharaonic circumcision, the Occi- dentalist trappings of the notion of universal human rights, or the ostensibly pater- nalistic regard of Ishi and of his remains, but they have yet systematically to put the ethical itself into anthropological question, systematically to inquire into the social and cultural themes and variations of ethical discourse and ethical practice, into the social and cultural lineaments of what, for lack of any better terminological placeholder, one might simply call the ‘‘ethical Ž eld.’’

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Rethinking the Theoretical Foundation of Sociobiology

Current sociobiology is in theoretical disarray, with a diversity of frameworks that are poorly related to each other. Part of the problem is a reluctance to revisit the pivotal events that took place during the 1960s, including the rejection of group selection and the development of alternative theoretical frameworks to explain the evolution of cooperative and altruistic behaviors. In this article, we take a “back to basics” approach, explaining what group selection is, why its rejection was regarded as so important, and how it has been revived based on a more careful formulation and subsequent research. Multilevel selection theory (including group selection) provides an elegant theoretical foundation for sociobiology in the future, once its turbulent past is appropriately understood.

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