IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - June 2021 - 40

Opinion
Opinion
Covid-19 in Conversations
Louise Gordon
Oxford Prospects and Global Development
Institute, Regent's Park College, University of
Oxford, Oxford OX1 2LB, U.K.
 The TranscripTs which follow speak to the
potency and promise of dialogue. They record
two in a continuing series of " COVID-19 In Conversations "
hosted by Oxford Prospects and Global
Development Institute (OPGDI), an interdisciplinary
research center of Regent's Park College, University
of Oxford. Dedicated to promoting discussion
and inspiring new ideas on the development of
China-U.K. relations in the context of globalization,
OPGDI is exceptionally positioned to illuminate the
comparatives and commonalities in East/West perspectives-in
times " normal " or " unprecedented. "
This fiercest public health crisis in a century has
elicited cooperative courage and sacrifice across
the globe. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic
is producing severe social, economic, political,
and ethical divides, within and between nations.
It is reshaping how we engage with each other and
how we see the world around us. It urges us to
think more deeply on many challenging issues-
some of which can perhaps offer opportunities if
we handle them well.
The
conversations
transcribed
here come
within the scope of OPGDI's ongoing projects on
the theme of " Technology-Society-Ethics, " engaging
academic audiences at the intersections of
technology with social management widely and
higher education specifically. In the first, ethicist
Dr. Mariarosaria Taddeo and engineer Prof. Jeremy
Pitt, moderated by lawyer Prof. Shuangge
Wen, confer on the use of technology in epidemic
response management, and the diverse, often
Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/MTS.2021.3077043
Date of current version: 3 June 2021.
40
0278-0097/21©2021 IEEE
disputed, ethical, legal, and social considerations
this raises. Shadowing the practicalities and politics
of the technology-enabled coronavirus control
measures of the past year is the spectre of privacy
diminished and lifestyles dominated, for motives
good or bad. The speakers' discourse highlights
the key need for trust in institutions and the vulnerability
of values, as well as lives when biology
or technology " goes viral. "
In the second conversation, educationalists Dr.
Lynn Robson of Oxford University and Prof. Hua
Sun, assisted by Dr. Fang Wang, of Peking University,
moderated by OPGDI Director Dr. Shidong Wang,
address the practicalities and prospects of blended
learning models within their university settings. Their
accounts of firsthand experience clearly demonstrate
the ways that an institution's scale and style of
pedagogy shape its application of standardized technological
tools in adapting to dramatically altered
conditions. Their conversation resonates with the
immediacy of steep learning curves-for teachers as
much as students-and the shared human impulses,
as well as culturally distinctive characteristics, within
technological inventiveness.
Framed wiThin The current pandemic, these conversations
transcend its transience, exploring the deep
and enduring linkages between material and intellectual
forces as well as between cultures and nations. 
Louise Gordon is a Publications Manager for
Oxford Prospects and Global Development Institute
(OPGDI), Regent's Park College, Oxford University,
Oxford, U.K. Contact her at pa_opgdc@regents.
ox.ac.uk.
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine

IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - June 2021

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