Once aware of the true scale and severity of the Covid-19 pandemic, scholars at Lingnan University in Hong Kong moved quickly to set up a wide-ranging series of research projects.
They recognised the importance of studying the likely longer-term impact and understanding what the disruptions to normal life would mean for different sectors of society.
By taking an interdisciplinary approach, their aim was to look at the direct effects of the disease and the challenges faced by families, schoolchildren, university students, and those now out of work.
Clearly, a stalling economy, online schooling, and social distancing requirements would affect livelihoods and general well-being. So, Lingnan formed a distinct research cluster focused on Covid-19 and its consequences, with many of the approved projects also tied directly to one or more of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These set out a blueprint for global action over the next few decades.
The purpose was to ensure proposals put forward by different departments have real-world significance and that, on completion, the research findings and recommendations can have a genuine impact.
For instance, one current study funded by the Lingnan Research Committee is looking at the well-being and health literacy of school principals, management teams and teachers during the ongoing pandemic.
Led by Prof Padmore Adusei Amoah of the School of Graduate Studies, the work is focusing on an issue which is often overlooked. That is the increased burden shouldered by those responsible for organising online classes and dealing with the extra complications that inevitably result.
Much of the public discourse has been about the impact on school children, their parents, and the merits or otherwise of online learning. But the viewpoint of teachers and principals – and the difficulties they encounter – require similar consideration, especially if some education authorities now advocate blended or hybrid learning as the way forward.
Another important project, jointly run by Prof Maggie Ka Wai Lau of the School of Graduate Studies and Prof Stefan Kuehner of the Department of Sociology and Social Policy, involved an international survey of children’s well-being during Covid-19.
It found that children in Hong Kong had a low ranking overall and expressed most dissatisfaction about “time use” and “being listened to by adults”. Obviously, there are lessons to learn here for anyone concerned about the well-being of young people and how to help them regain the sense of stability and participation that allows them to thrive.
Taking a different path, Prof Gizem Arat of the Department of Sociology and Social Policy has been exploring possible factors for the prevention of Covid-19 cases among underprivileged ethnic minorities in Hong Kong.
And, in the Department of Management, a study of the pandemic’s impact on doctors and nurses was overseen by Prof Nan Wang and Prof Nancy Yifeng Chen.
New angles will no doubt continue to emerge, and all the latest Lingnan University publications and articles related to Covid-19 can be found in the webpage.