Adil Najam, Dean of the Pardee School of Global Studies, recently authored an op-ed for The Conversation reflecting on the lessons learned from a video series in which he interviewed 99 “big thinkers” about how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact the future of world politics, economics, society, daily life, and more. The video series, titled “The World After Coronavirus,” was a project of the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future.
In the op-ed, Dean Najam recounted his interviews with 101 leading experts and practitioners from Boston University and around the world on a wide range of topics, and the myriad challenges and opportunities that COVID-19 will present. He explained that, during the course of the project, he realized that the pandemic “is not a storm that we can just wait out,” but rather it represents a fundamental transformation from which there will be no “going back to normal.”
Specifically, he explained that the pandemic will accelerate disruptions that were already underway in journalism, higher education, and other fields. Politically, he recounted interviewees’ apprehensions that the impacts of COVID-19 will be turbulent and long-lasting, particularly for the intensifying U.S.-China rivalry. However, he also reflected on positive changes — including telecommuting and telemedicine — as well as the pandemic’s unique “opportunity to address the injustices of our economic and societal systems” by investing in solutions to mounting challenges like income inequality and climate change.