Professor Rachel Norman, Dean for Research Engagement and Performance, University of Stirling
For most of us, Covid-19 has come out of the blue and impacted our lives in ways which would have been unimaginable a few months ago. Immediate concerns in the first few weeks of the outbreak were around medical solutions to the disease: Could our health system cope? What drugs can we use to treat the disease? How can we manufacture ventilators more quickly? When will we have a vaccine? These are all important questions and there are many people working on finding the answers. However these are not the only problems that need to be solved in response to the pandemic.
Whilst we are all in lockdown and in the midst of the epidemic (at time of writing there have been 33,000+ Covid-related deaths reported in the UK) there are a number of urgent issues which need to be addressed. These include how to protect those in prison from infection and how to ensure vulnerable children and adults suffering from abuse can be protected.
Once the immediate panic subsides, there are some fundamental questions which we need to address about the virus is going to change the world we live in in the longer term. Can we use this as an opportunity to rebuild our societal structures in order to be more sustainable and to reduce inequalities? At the moment Covid-19 is exacerbating inequalities in society with, on average, the most vulnerable becoming even more so, and women taking on more of the caring responsibilities. However, some of the measures put in place to combat the spread of the virus provide us with an opportunity to look at how we might restructure to reduce emissions, increase sustainability and improve health. The answers to many of these questions will rely on universities to undertake research and provide evidence for the policy decisions which will need to be made.
Researchers at the University of Stirling are working across a wide range of areas which have impact in the real world; this pandemic has highlighted how important many of those areas are both in the short and long term. In this series of bite-sized public lectures our, academics will give an overview of how their area of interest has been impacted by Covid-19 and will discuss what the important questions are for them as we navigate our way through these difficult times. In doing so, they will highlight the crucial role that research continues to play in tackling society’s greatest challenges, and in underpinning a fair and sustainable recovery.