june, 2023

9jun9:00 am- 6:00 pmWriting the History of COVID-19: Lessons for the Next Pandemic

Event Details

Date: Friday, June 9th, 2023

Time: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM EST

Location: Lehman Center for American History (420 W 118th Street, New York, NY 10027)

Register here.

While the Covid-19 crisis is still unfolding, it has already revealed much about the history of our time, and left lessons that will be important to study before the next pandemic. But much depends on gaining a sense of perspective, and preserving information that might otherwise be lost. Even before it began, archivists and scholars were struggling to develop new methods to record and analyze history in the age of “big data.” Resource constraints and fights over access to information have only intensified because of pressures on public budgets and the partisan politics that surround any attempt at retrospective analysis.

Our plan is to assemble historians, journalists, archivists and public health experts to take stock of the first efforts to record and report this global crisis, identify the most important questions for new research, and in that way set priorities for long-term preservation.

Please see below our schedule for our event.

8:30-9:30: Coffee/Breakfast

9:30-10:00: Opening Remarks and Welcome

10:00-11:45: Panel I – Prevision

How do we assess efforts to predict and plan for pandemics, and how did they prepare us for Covid-19 (or leave us unprepared)? What was expected and what was unexpected about how events unfolded? And how do we assess the use of different modes of prevision to inform policy choices and educate the public once the pandemic was underway?

Moderator: Matthew Connelly, Columbia University, Professor of International and Global history, Co-Director of the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy (ISERP)

Caitlin Rivers, John Hopkins, Senior Scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Gaia Dempsey, Metaculus, CEO

Jeff Shaman, Columbia University, ​​Professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences and Director of the Climate and Health Program at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health

12:00-1:00: Lunch

1:00-2:45: Panel II – Policy

There is a growing demand for understanding of how different scientific recommendations, political choices, and community responses shaped the course of the pandemic. Considering past pandemics, what are we likely to learn, and what questions may remain unanswerable?

Moderator: Wilmot James, Brown University, Senior Advisor to the Brown Pandemic Center, Professor of the Practice of Health Services, Policy and Practice

Stephen Hilgartner, Cornell University, Frederic J. Whiton Professor of Science & Technology Studies

Lawrence Stanberry, Columbia University, Associate Dean for International Programs and Director of the Programs in Global Health at Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons

Jennifer Nuzzo, Brown University, Professor of Epidemiology and Director of the Pandemic Center at Brown University School of Public Health

3:00-4:45: Panel III – History

How do we place the pandemic in the longer history of emerging infectious diseases and structural trends that are making outbreaks more common, including encroachment on natural habitats and international travel? How do we connect and compare it to other events that may define our time, such as the recrudescence of authoritarianism and growing resistance to racial and social inequality?

Moderator: Steve Morse, Columbia University, Professor of Epidemiology at CUMC

Tom Ewing, Virginia Tech, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research and Professor of History

David Rosner, Columbia University, Ronald H. Lauterstein Professor of Sociomedical Sciences and Professor of History, Co-Director, Center for the History & Ethics of Public Health

James Colgrove, Columbia University, Professor of Sociomedical Sciences at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health

5:00-6:00: Roundtable with Matthew Connelly, Wilmot James, and Steve Morse

This event is sponsored by ISERP.


(Friday) 9:00 am - 6:00 pm


Lehman Center (406 IAB, 420 West 118th Street)

Lehman Center (406 IAB, 420 West 118th Street)